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

1. Prime Baby, by Gene Luen Yang.
I thought this was a baby book about a baby who learns what prime numbers are and why prime numbers are important and, since a lot of people seem to be having babies these days, I picked it up because I thought it would be good to have on the bookshelf for re-gifting (or, more specifically, “free-gifting”) purposes. But, instead of being a book about a baby who learns what prime numbers are and why prime numbers are important, this seems to be a graphic novel about a really smart (alien?) baby aimed at an older audience. I guess I should have known. What baby wants to know about prime numbers? And why are they important? I haven’t seen Contact in awhile, so I’ve forgotten.

2. Love in a Time of Homeschooling: A Mother and Daughter’s Uncommon Year, by Laura Brodie.
God, choosing a school for a child seems like a nightmare. Way worse than figuring out natural childbirth, or daycare, or potty training, or breastfeeding, or attachment parenting, or whether your parents really should move closer to you when their first grandchild is born so that they can see that grandchild (and, presumably, you?) more often even though their closer proximity and more frequent visits might interfere with your commitment to raising a vegan daughter and your avant-rock band’s irregular practice schedule. Picking a school isn’t just like Russian Roulette—-it is Russian roulette, but a drawn-out version of Russian roulette that includes bullies and A.D.D. diagnoses. If you live in a major city with oppressed racial minorities/socioeconomic underclasses and you send your kid to public school, you’re undoubtedly walking into some nightmare Blackboard Jungle/Lean on Me/Boyz in the Hood scenario, but if you send that same kid to a ridiculously expensive private school, you’re walking into some equally nightmarish Less than Zero/Dead Poets’ Society/Catcher in the Rye scenario. Or, like the author of this book, you could grow some balls and homeschool your kid, but who has time to do that when there’s so much media to consume? I haven’t even had a kid yet and I’m not totally caught up on Lost.

3. The Collaborators, by Pierre Siniac, translated by Jordan Stump.
The Cure didn’t write a song about every cool French novel.

4. The Language God Talks: On Science and Religion, by Herman Wouk.
I’m not really sure who Herman Wouk is and can’t believe that he is still alive, but, like William Styron and Robert Ludlum, he seems to have authored a number of books that are only available on the mildewed bookshelves of vacation/beach homes on the East Coast which, in every month of every year that’s not June, July, or August, remain abandoned with the heat and the water shut off; books best read (or, truth be told, skimmed) as one lays (lies?) on the beach catching some rays, wondering whether it’s time to reapply sunscreen to one’s shoulders while lighting a damp cigarette and trying to figure out whether that crew of attractive girls and boys Boogie-boarding in the seaweed-y surf are intelligent, ironic, and, most importantly, over 18.

5. Alberto Garcia-Alix: Box, photographs by Alberto Garcia-Alix, introduction by Lola Garrido.
Since I’m not perfect, I don’t speak Spanish, and was unable to immediately uncover much useful information in English about the (Spanish? Mexican?) painter Alberto Garcia-Alix, but take a moment and enjoy the fruits of this Google image search, if you’re not stranded Google-less in mainland China.