A Book Recommendation from Its Author – The Sword and the Shield

I had to admire Peniel Joseph against the backdrop of bookshelves proudly displaying multiple copies of The Sword and the Shield – not the spines, but the covers lined up on a wall of bookshelves behind him, as he discussed the controversy of tearing down monuments with Judy Woodruff on the PBS News Hour.  What great publicity.  Of course, I had to find the book and of course he is the author.

In a review of The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.,  Mark Whitaker for the Washington Post notes:

“Joseph, a historian at the University of Texas at Austin, has made his name studying the Black Power movement and wrote the definitive biography of Stokely Carmichael, the mercurial leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In turning to King and Malcolm, he ventures into far more densely covered historical territory… {and}  for the most part he smartly zeros in on the relatively brief period during which King and Malcolm actively influenced each other, even if they had no personal contact. It is a fascinating story, full of subtle twists and turns, that unfolded in three phases.”

The New York Times offered an excerpt from the book – you can check it out here.

This might be a good time to revisit their lives by reading the book.

 

Amazon, I Give Up

It’s getting harder to avoid Jeff Bezos. I had sworn off buying books, joining Prime, or anything else from Amazon when the pop-eyed titan clashed with Hatchette book publishers. In 2014 The New York Times reported “(Amazon) controls nearly half the book trade, an unprecedented level for one retailer. And the dispute showed it is not afraid to use its power to discourage sales.”

The desire to own the universe has expanded since then to some of my favorites. Amazon is now the force behind the Washington Post, Audible, Goodreads, Whole Foods, Airbandb, and Uber. And “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is only available on Prime Video. I may not be able to hold out much longer from the persuasion of persistent marketing.

th  Yes, Virginia, I did finally give in and subscribe to Amazon Prime – bingeing on Mrs. Maisel and Jack Ryan. I christened my Whole Foods account today with a sweep of my App, buying many of the tempting (but not needed) Prime Savings items. I laughed at John Kelly’s article in the Washington Post with his stack of unread New Yorkers (he knows me well), and I dowloaded more books on Audible.  I’ve read and enjoyed most of the Goodreads Choice Awards including Moyes’ Still Me and Hannah’s The Great Alone, but I still wonder why most of the prestigious book award winners were not included.  Where were?

  • Pulitzer Prize winner Less by Greer
  • Pen/Faulkner Award winner Improvement by Joan Silber
  • National Book Foundation Award The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
  • Man Booker Prize Winner Milkman by Anna Burns

51qvrvMLUoL._AC_UL200_SR200,200_On a quick search, I found I could, if I wanted to, order wine from Amazon, as well as my favorite Illy coffee, products from Trader Joe’s, and live goldfish – but no puppies…yet.

I hope Jeff Bezos appreciates my contribution to his space race – but I doubt he’s noticed.

Book Lovers Live Longer

The news was so hot, two friends called and another sent me the clipping of the article by Pulitzer winning writer Amy Ellis Nutt from the Washington Post – Scientists Say Book Lovers Live Longer Than Non-Readers.  Just reading books more than 3.5 hours a week – a half hour a day – can add to your life span.  Imagine what reading more in a day can do, but be careful to get up and move around now and then, since the Annals of Internal Medicine recently linked a sedentary lifestyle to early death.

Someone suggested listening to books on tape while walking, jogging, biking –  to cover all bases.  I could never give up the pleasure of turning the pages, or the convenience of a quick download of a best seller, but I am working on my Audible list.  Here are a few:

  • The Country Wife – starring Maggie Smith in a BBC dramatization
  • Say Something Happened by Alan Bennett
  • The Road Home: Stories of Lake Wobegon by Garrison Kellor
  • In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

 

My favorite study, however, linked eating chocolate to good health and long life.

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Making the List

k0091272Although I faithfully note new books I want to read,  I can never be number one on the library wait list.  It doesn’t help that the book is not yet listed when I log in, anxious to find it.  It doesn’t help that the library “wish list” can only include books in cataloguing.  Mostly, it doesn’t help that I forget about the book until I see another ad or review – usually weeks later.  By then, other more diligent readers have already ordered the book, and I am number 198 for the new Jeffrey Archer, or 20 for Donna Leon’s new mystery, and still holding at 14 for The Luminaries.   Is it any wonder that my electronic book bill has soared?  Sometimes, I just can’t wait.

A friend recently sent me an article from the Washington Post about the slow-reading movement and the effects of digital reading on the brain – Serious Reading Takes A Hit from Online Scanning and Skimming.  It struck me as I “skimmed” the article that library users may be promoters of this movement, sometimes forcing me to revert to digital text that may be eroding what is left of my brain.  Michael Rosenwald writes in the Post:

Before the Internet, the brain read mostly in linear ways — one page led to the next page, and so on… Reading in print even gave us a remarkable ability to remember where key information was in a book simply by the layout…We’d know a protagonist died on the page with the two long paragraphs after the page with all that dialogue.

The Internet is different. With so much information, hyperlinked text, videos alongside words and interactivity everywhere, our brains form shortcuts to deal with it all — scanning, searching for key words, scrolling up and down quickly. This is nonlinear reading…

Will we become Twitter brains?”

I worry that books will disappear – like bookstores.  I happily still prefer holding the pages and flipping back to remember who died – harder to do on an e-book, even with those red bookmarks.  But when the wait is long, and the price is right, those electronic books fill my need every time.   How about you?

 

 

 

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Dickens at Christmas – Dodger

9780062009494_p0_v1_s260x420In the spirit of Christmas – past, present, and future – I am reading a little Charles Dickens on Christmas Day through the clever mystery of Terry Pratchett’s Dodger.  Set in Victorian England, Patchett channels the master storyteller Dickens and his charming fictional rogue, Dodger in an adventure to rescue a damsel in distress.

Inspired by the Charles Dickens display at the Morgan Library in New York City, and prompted by a review in the Washington Post sent by a good friend who shared the outing, I ordered Dodger from my library and it appeared just in time for Christmas reading.  Although listed as a book for older children, adults who know the literary and political references will appreciate the nuances.  Back to reading for me – and Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Related:

  1. The Morgan Library Exhibits
  2. Washington Post Book World Review of “Dodger”