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

1. Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror, by Jason Zinoman. When I was five, I found a copy of Dawn of the Dead in my mom’s VHS collection and asked if I could watch it, and my mom said no. When I was 13, I went looking for that same copy of Dawn of the Dead in my mom’s VHS collection and couldn’t find it and, when I asked my mom what had happened to it, she said that it was lost. When I was 21, I was browsing through my mom’s VHS collection not explicitly looking for Dawn of the Dead, but came across Dawn of the Dead and asked her where she had found the missing copy. She said that, since she had lost it, she had “re-bought” it. Here endeth the story of my mom’s Dawn of the Dead VHS tapes.

2. The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency, by Randall Kennedy. It’s gonna be tough if Obama loses in 2012 and we have to start reading all the hand-wringing op-eds and books about why the first black president only served one term. Then again, if he wins, we’ll have to read all of the triumphant op-eds and books about how the first black president was always destined to serve two terms. Maybe it would be more fun if Obama was attacked by a rabbit.

3. Pearl Jam Twenty, by Pearl Jam. Introduction by Cameron Crowe. I watched about seven minutes of the 1992 film Singles the other night, and if someone can name one way that the world’s improved since Citizen Dick rocked Seattle stages, please email me now. Those who provide smart answers will be rewarded with ice-cream sundaes from the dairy vendor of their choice.

4. The Facts of Winter by Paul Poissel, translated by Paul La Farge. This book is, like, a modern translation of a late 19th-century book in which a French author recorded the dreams of 19th-century Parisians. As such, it gives us insight into the psychology (psychologies?) of those who lived in the somewhat distant past. Just like when Benny Hill used to chase milkmaids.

5. 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, by Charles C. Mann. If the Indians had just started shooting, I’d probably be writing this from a shtetl in northern Poland, a Bavarian farmstead, or a lane in County Kerry.