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In which the author briefly discusses five new books he’d read, if time permitted

1. Good Eats: The Early Years, by Alton Brown I had a housemate who loved Alton Brown. Absolutely loved him. Would stay up until 2 a.m. to watch him on the Food Network. Funny thing was, this housemate was a chef. An actual, real chef, who worked at a fancy restaurant for like 10 or 12 hours and then came home to Alton Brown. I never understood that. I thought a “real” food guy would admire a “real” chef—someone I, who am not particularly interested in food, probably had never heard of—not a TV chef with a kitschy food show that was considered “for foodies” only by people who watched Rachael Ray or Top Chef and weren’t sweating it out every goddamn day in an actual gritty working kitchen somewhere. But, it turns out that this real-life chef loved this fake TV-chef more than any other real chefs he actually knew in real life. Just goes to show you: you think you’ve got life figured out, then it throws ya a curve ball.

2. Changing My Mind, by Zadie Smith People love Zadie Smith. White Teeth, On Beauty—Zadie writes ’em, folks buy ’em. Unfortunately, I’ve only read The Autograph Man, which I liked, but most people hate, and I’ve heard Smith disowned. Then, I did some research and learned she actually disowned White Teeth. But I can’t keep track of who disowned what, or who likes what. I just read.

3. Open: An Autobiography, by Andre Agassi Did you hear about that guy who didn’t want to read a vaguely Zen tennis autobiography by a sexy, bald man who used to date Barbra Streisand? What a douche.

4. When the Game was Ours, by Larry Bird, Earvin Johnson Jr., and Jackie MacMullan Oh, wait—I thought this book was co-authored by Larry Bird and Julius Erving (a.k.a. Dr. J) and was a celebration of the Apple IIe game One on One. Guess it’s about something else. Still, pretty good stuff.

5. South of Broad, by Pat Conroy I checked this book out because I’m from Philadelphia and I thought it was about Philadelphia, specifically South Philadelphia (“South of Broad,” get it?). Turns out it’s about Charleston, S.C. and, according to Amazon.com, “features Appalachian orphans…a black football coach’s son…and an astonishingly beautiful pair of twins, Sheba and Trevor Poe, who are evading their psychotic father.” All right, Pat Conroy, you’ve still got my attention. Keep talking.