Nine Classics to Read in the Winter

Why is it we only get reading lists during the summer? With its short days and achingly cold nights, winter seems the far better season to pick over neglected bookshelves. But I don’t like to read just any book in the winter. Breezy romances set in SoCal climes? Ech. (Well, for me that kind of … Continue reading

Reading the Quran during an Election Year

I wonder sometimes if Abraham Lincoln made a terrible mistake when he set Thanksgiving as a national holiday in the final days of November, knowing full well that every fourth year a presidential election would have just taken place. How cruel for the Great Emancipator to shackle us to a dinner table with distant relatives … Continue reading

The 200 Books You Need to Read

You could say I am playing into a stereotype by fretting over what really are the most important books that everyone should read. But these things do matter! Consider this 2008 piece in the New York Times that bemoans poorly-read sexual partners. It probably caused a lot of anxiety among the fairly well-read.  “It tells something about … their level of … Continue reading

The Human Stain’s Rambling

In Philip Roth’s world, so much depends on the New York Times and the New York Review of Books. No Roth novel seems complete without some obsession with New York high culture, as dictated by these expiring icons. Only perhaps John Irving, our contemporary Dickens to Roth’s Stendhal, can write using  the same half dozen tropes  in every … Continue reading