Posts Tagged ‘Walt Whitman’

Elmore Leonard’s new book, Djibouti, has arrived!

Elmore Leonard is pretty much my favorite writer ever (I say that today; tomorrow I might say Neil Gaiman, the next day I might say Walt Whitman but for today let’s stick with Dutch).

Monday was Elmore Leonard’s 85th birthday, his fortieth novel, Djibouti, came out on Tuesday, and the trailer for the second season of the FX series Justified came out Wednesday. Three great reasons to celebrate what a prolific, generous writer has gifted readers like me. Here’s the man, the book, and the video after the jump: Read more…


Your Friday Recommendation #32

Of the eleven people who will be at my pad for Christmas dinner, six are getting at least one book from me. Most of the remaining five have received a book or two from me at one point or another, and there are at least four other people I picked up a book to give to as a gift. Tomorrow we announce a winner in the “Dead of Winter” contest – just so I can give away yet two more books. In short, I believe a good read makes a good gift and I encourage you to think likewise.

I’ve had many great books gifted to me over the years. When I was a kid, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. In college I got copies of Signal To Noise by Neil Gaiman, and my first copy of Writer’s Market. Christmas gifts have ranged from Dude, Where’s My Country? by Michael Moore, The Daily Show’s America: The Book, Terry Pratchett’s The Bromeliad Trilogy brilliant autobiography I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This by Bob Newhart, and Walt Whitman’s Memorandum on the [Civil] War. For wedding gifts, Kelly and I picked up Malcolm Gladwell’s innovative duo, Blink and The Tipping Point. And just for fun, my mother snagged me a copy of Neil Gaiman’s Two Plays for Voices on audio. This is just a small sampling of the great books I’ve received as gifts, but you get the picture. If I didn’t get a book on my own, I’ve had good people kind enough to know my tastes and find me good picks.

I hope you’re giving the written word to someone special this year. Who’s getting what from you? Okay, you can reply on December 26th, if you’d like, but I’d love to hear your picks for others (and what you receive in return).


P.S. The image I’ve selected to go with this post is of Bob Newhart’s autobiography because it’s so unbelievable good, plus it has many of his classic routines in print for the first time:

Teaching reading vs. teaching sex

10.28.2008 1 comment

I have met a lot of teenagers who don’t like reading, some of them outright hating it. They were forced to read a novel they considered boring or had too much reading homework for comfort or just didn’t understand the significance of Oedipus no matter how much their English teacher tried to explain, and so on.

This morning I was on Facebook and in under “Books” in the profile of a teenage friend (I know this person, I’m not a stalker), they have written, “F*** Reading,” only spelled out in its entirety. Sorry, I won’t pretend the F-Bomb doesn’t exist but I’m not interested in having it appear in my blog (you can send me an email about the hypocrisy of self-censorship later, dear reader). I know this person doesn’t like to read – they and I have spoken about it – and while they can’t pinpoint what made them decide reading wasn’t for them I was surprised by their volatile, public (yes, Facebook is pretty public, no matter how private you think it is) proclamation against reading.

I’m concerned for two reasons. First, much of what I write is aimed at teenage boys, often considered the most difficult demographic to get to pick up a book on their own for the sheer joy of reading. Second, in my anecdotal experience, it appears if a young man dislikes reading, they really, really hate reading and it often takes a grand and profound experience for them to be open to reading ever again.

All of this has lead me to believe a radical new proposal that will shift how America conducts its public education system is in order. Maybe instead of pushing reading or English class altogether they could replace that curriculum with classes about drugs, swearing, sex, and all the other things parents don’t want their teens doing and let the classes cover every single detail, no matter how “obscene.” Maybe this way the youth of America will stop wanting to have unprotected sex and start sneaking away to read copies of Charlotte’s Web in the closet or jump in the back seat with a special someone to analyze Walt Whitman poetry or get together with a group of friends in someone’s basement when their parents are out of town to have dirty, nasty group book club meetings.

What do you think? Will my new educational platform fly, or have I doomed my chances of ever running for office against someone who doesn’t understand satire? Do you know anyone who hates to read and do they tell you why?

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Part II (“F” Reading) and Thursday’s Part III (“How to fail at reading”) and this week’s installment of Your Friday Recommendation – “Five Books For Boys.”