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in which the author discusses five books he’d read, if time permitted.
1. Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, by Piper Kerman. I’m not sure if it’s cool to spend a year in a federal penitentiary and then be released and pitch a book about your year in a federal penitentiary. Then again, I didn’t understand what was cool about Swatches in the 1980s, especially when you had to wear three on your left wrist that clanked together obnoxiously, revealing your clandestine location beneath the bleachers in the high school gym to any and all lurking, lunch-money seeking bullies. I guess that, in the 1980s, everyone was obsessed with time (witness: Flavor Flav) because White Man’s time was runnin’ out. But, after all this time, it seems like White Man’s time still has awhile to go.
2.Pox: An American History, by Michael Willrich. Smallpox: I don’t want it and I don’t need it. It’s hard enough staying on top of the many dubious-seeming, ungrammatically named ways to stream audio files—-SoundCloud? BandCamp? TuneCore? DownloadCentric?—-without having to worry about a disease that was eradicated decades before I was born. Division of labor is what makes human civilization beautiful. From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. You worry about those vaccines. I worry about these 24-bit .wav files.
3. Wingshooters, by Nina Revoyr. I’m not going to make any jokes about a book by a Tokyo-born author raised in America while words like “catastrophe” appear next to “Japan” on the front of every newspaper/website I read, so supply your own if you want to be a d*ck.
4. Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead: Journeys Into Fame and Madness, by Neil Strauss. It must be weird to be the co-author/ghostwriter for books by famous rock dudes. Imagine if you were hanging out with Nikki Sixx and you were like, “Nikki—-it’s time to write Chapter 5, tenatively titled ‘Kickstart My Heart,'” and Nikki was like, “OK, but I started drinking again, so I have to finish this Wild Turkey first,” and you were like, “All right, but this time around we have to make sure to eliminate all of your g*damned dangling modifiers” and Nikki was like, “Don’t chastise me about dangling modifiers when you so blithely end sentences with prepositions” and you were like “Dangling modifiers—-that’s what she said,” and Nikki was like, “LOL.”
5. The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement, by David Brooks. What makes us human? What is consciousness? What is thought and what shapes it? Why do we love? Why do we hate? Why do we know what’s good for us—-and so frequently do the opposite? I sure don’t know, but I hope David Brooks does, because he’s charging $14.85 to find out, and I don’t want to throw my money away like I did on Alan Greenspan’s memoir a year before a major stock market crash he didn’t predict and still can’t explain.