Mere Commentary I | Page 44 | Newberry

Mere Commentary I

There are people out there who think I know everything there is to know about books. (Nobody knows everything there is to know about books, kids, even Uncle Blogsy.) Therefore, they feel I must have an opinion about everything that happens in the world of books.

Well, as Donald Kaul always says, “Ignorance is no excuse for not having an opinion.” So to respond to a few inquiries, let us this week string out some random thoughts, blogreader, and see if they make any sense. If they do, we have proven again that I do not fit in the world of modern journalism.


The Newberry list of Best Books for 2010 has been making the rounds, and I say hooray. It has a modestly unfair advantage. How can you miss if you’ve included a title like Nuns Behaving Badly? (Check elsewhere on this website for the full list.)

Some people dislike top ten lists, and I understand the theory: you do wind up excluding that book that came in eleventh which might have been such a wonderful experience for another reader. But surely taking time to say something good about a book brings more attention to the deserving and brightens the world with ten more positive notes. (Mind you, a list called The Ten Worst Books of 2010 grabs the attention more. Bu that’s just our nature.)

As to the books on the list, well, um, the fact is that I don’t think I’ve read any books published in 2010. I’m not entirely sure I’ve read a book published in 2009 yet. The last time I read a book the same year it was published was probably when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was unfairly released right during Book Fair set-up. (I had to sneak into the A.C.McClurg Bookstore and read the epilogue to reassure myself until I had time to read the whole thing. Some day, when we’re really desperate for blog material, I’ll tell you that I wanted to make sure of One Thing, and read the epilogue only far enough to check that before going back to kicking bookcases and hollering at volunteers. I was so cheerful about it that I actually stopped kicking volunteers and hollering at bookcases. For a while)

Of course, I am breaking that trend by reading a book published in 2011: Other People’s Books, a book technically not available until this Friday, so I’m really up to the minute. Yes, this is about the big Book Launch Dinner (reservations now closed, but see elsewhere on this website for details on the symposium March 19.) I have promised myself I will not go overboard in promoting this collection of interesting stories by interesting people about interesting books by touting it constantly as fun to read, fun to look at, and perfect for holiday giving even if it is fun to read, fun to look at, and absolutely perfect for holiday giving.

By the way, as long as I have cleverly turned the subject to Association Copies again, the Book Fair has pulled in another association book, The Story of Fort Dearborn, inscribed by J. Seymour Currey, Chicago historian, to Charles G. Dawes, Chicago businessman and the only Vice President of the United States to write a hit doo-wop song. I hope that, come July, someone out there will consider this the Best Book Bargain of 2011.

(Next time: Border’s) 

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