in which the author discusses five books he’d read, if time permitted.
1.The Order of Days: The Maya World and the Truth About 2012, by David Stuart.
I want to get mystical. I want to score peyote outside a Pearl Jam show and retreat to the nearest desert during the next harvest moon and commune with scorpions while doing donuts in my Toyota Matrix and blasting “The End” from the car’s broken stereo. After consulting the appropriate A/V professionals, I want to install a quadrophenic speaker system in my living room and listen to the quadrophenic mix of Quadrophenia on scratchy vinyl or, if possible, 8-track tape or, if possible, 2-track tape. I want to read Carlos Castaneda while watching the Monkees’ 1968 film Head. I want to order a soy latte with no foam and then ask for foam on it. I want to wave down a taxi and when the taxi stops ask whether the cabbie can take me to the center of the universe and when the cabbie says “What?” I want to ask how many zones that is even though D.C. doesn’t even have a zone system for taxis anymore. I want to slide into a bubbling pool of liquid gold and then suddenly realize that I was the gold all along.
2. The Lost Children: Reconstructing Europe’s Families after World War II, by Tara Zahra.
This sh$t is harshing my mellow.
3. Someday This Will Be Funny, by Lynne Tillman.
Short stories are great. First, they’re short, like those people Randy Newman sung about, and episodes of The Office. Second, they’re stories—-that is, narratives of love, loss, victory, and defeat that will transport you from your sad pitiful daily struggles to a transcendent place where you feel one with the great mass of humanity. Why not read one today?
4. Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure, by Tim Harford.
They say that, if something’s lost, you always find it in the last place you look. While this is true, it’s not a very telling observation. Certainly, you always find something that’s lost in the last place you look because, once you find that something, you stop looking. Thus, the statement “you always find something in the last place you look” is tautological at best and condescending and snide at worst, especially when directed by a partner or a parent at someone who can never find his glasses, wallet, or keys, especially right before he is leaving for work or school, and is already late. So—-to those so eager to point out that something lost is always found in the last place one looks, I say this: Find an expression more relevant, thoughtful, empathetic, helpful, and Christ-like, and, while your at it, don’t move my sh$t around and call it “straightening up.”
5. Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir, by Steven Tyler.
Rock ‘n’ roll memoirs are like bananas: When the ones you’ve got spoil, there are always more ripening at the store.