Monday, June 9, 2008

Books? Books!

I used to be really good about reading books. The air pollution in Beijing was oppressive. I accepted the questionable assumption that indoor air was way cleaner than outdoor air. And the constant basketball in my life made knee maintenance imperative. So I rode a stationary bike. 45 minutes a day. Five days a week. For close to four years.

The books got sweaty, but I flew through them, and I loved it.

Back in the States, however, I'm embarrassingly out of the groove.

I read my feeds. I read handwritten Bob Doss stories. I'll wake up tomorrow morning and re-read this to make sure posting it wasn't a mistake. But I've been totally slack when it comes to books.

I've been back for more than six months, and, unless I'm forgetting something, the only books I've read have been The Moral Animal by Robert Wright and Six Degrees by Duncan J. Watts. Both were enjoyable for sure, but both are science books: books rich in ideas, not so much literary inspiration.

And, given what feels to me like a ridiculous amount of writing that I've been doing since this blog kicked off in January, some literary inspiration would probably do me good. A little Ken Kesey maybe. Some James Baldwin. Hunter S. Thompson. Kurt Vonnegut.

But, nope, I have the luxury of clean air and beautiful outdoor running, and, apparently, I can't be bothered with books.

Luckily, however, my friends don't let me forget what I'm missing. They send me emails like this one, a reminder to watch the Mark Bittman TED Talk:

it repeats a lot of what is said in in defense of food by your boyfriend michael pollan. same message, but faster intake. for more thoroughness and awesomeness (and rage and paranoia), read the book.

I haven't read In Defense of Food yet, but it's on the list, and I reckon it'll even inspire. Pollan's got that Jared Diamond thing going on. Science that's literature.

But first I turn to Dave Eggers, the mastermind behind Giraffes? Giraffes!, the book with the title that dwarfs all other titles. I've been hearing good things about What Is the What for a while now, and I'm finally making it happen.

The literary inspiration should be back any minute, and you should demand nothing short of Shakespearean grace from now on.