in which the author discusses five books he’d read, if time permitted.
1. The Electric Information Age Book: McLuhan/Agel/Fiore and the Experimental Paperback, by Jeffrey Schnapp and Adam Michaels
Though its cover is hard to look at, this apparently otherwise well-designed title comes from your friends at the always surprising Princeton Architectural Press, where books are lovingly presented like the pristine, indispensible objects of commodity fetishism they are. Ironically, The Electric Information Age Book pays tribute to the disposable paperback. But isn’t irony fundamental to the architecture of Rem Koolhaus, Frank Gehry, and even Le Corbusier and, yes, Frank Lloyd Wright?
2. The End of War, by John Horgan
This book dares to suggest that human beings are not designed to destroy one another. Someone should probably alert Benjamin Netanyahu, Hamas, President Obama, Al-Qaeda, Kim Jong-Un, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Castros, the Republican and Democratic parties, and Metallica.
3. Fairness and Freedom: A History of Two Open Societies: New Zealand and the United States, by David Hackett Fischer
New Zealand always seemed like a great place to have and/or recover from a nervous breakdown. It’s an island. It’s green. There are lots of sheep. The surfing is great. Water flows down the drain clockwise (or is it counter clockwise?). People seem to drink a lot, but still feel good about themselves. Peter Jackson is from there. So is Charlize Theron. No, wait—-Charlize Theron is from South Africa, which seems like a terrible place to have a nervous breakdown.
4. The Titanic For Dummies, by Stephen J. Spignesi
Fair warning: No entries for either “Dicaprio, Leonardo” or “Winslet, Kate” in the index.
5. Glaciers, by Alexis Smith
This depressing-sounding novel is about a woman with a fondness for thrift store-shopping has been compared to Virginia Woolf, which is either a plus or a red flag depending on your opinion of To the Lighthouse. My father, for example, talks about To the Lighthouse as if it’s the Superbowl of modern literature. I don’t share this opinion; for me, To the Lighthouse is more like a scrimmage game where your star QB, who was a first-round draft pick, gets sacked in the third quarter, tears his ACL, and ends up on the bench for the whole season. (The problem with comparing the NFL to modern literature: I know nothing about professional football. Do quarterbacks even tear their ACLs? And what is an ACL, anyway?)