in which the author discusses five books he’d read, if time permitted.

1. Sensing the Past: Hollywood Stars and Historical Visions, by Jim Cullen
When I think of Jim Morrison, I don’t think of Jim Morrison, but of Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone‘s The Doors. And when I think of Justice Earl Warren, I don’t think of Justice Earl Warren, but of the sinister-looking actor who played Justice Earl Warren in Oliver Stone’s JFK. But when I think of Richard Nixon, I don’t think of Anthony Hopkins as Richard Nixon in Oliver Stone’s Nixon. Stone can’t totally control my conception of history. There are limits to his power.

2. Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present, by Max Boot
Guerrillas: Jumping out from behind trees, shouting “Freedom!” and kicking ass since the beginning of time.

3. The Dude and the Zen Master, by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman
I’m not one to worship at the altar of The Big Lebowski. I much prefer to worship at the altar of No Country for Old Men or A Serious Man. But I have to say that this latest entry in the Coen-Bridges-Dude industrial complex seems interesting or, if not “interesting,” at least “readable.” Then again, any text is “readable”—-every Stephen King novel, every Karl Marx treatise, and the list of ingredients on every tube of toothpaste.

4. James Stirling: Revisionary Modernist, by Amanda Reeser Lawrence
I’ve never heard of this architect, but at least one of his buildings looks like a bunch of shoeboxes held up by a bunch of toothpicks.

5. The Universe Within: Discovering the Common History of Rocks, Planets, and People, by Neil Shubin
Stardust is the name of a musical, but it’s also the name of the stuff that all of us are made of…(bong hit)…wait, hold on…(bong hit)…nah, I was wrong, it’s a 2007 romantic comedy starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert DeNiro with a 76 percent “fresh” rating on…(bong hit)…are you gonna eat that?