books

I read a book last week that made me remember why I read books. Books are lovely because they’re entertaining and they curl up with me in bed and, as the saying goes, “Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.” But, the reason, actually, that I read is for books like Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael.

It’s an old book, published almost 20 years ago; the copy I found at the Pasadena Library was a bit battered. But, it rocked my socks right off; it knocked and rattled some loose ends in my mind. Great books seem to do that: rattle your loose ends—un-tie them or bind them up, or fiddle with them in some way. It’s a bit of a preachy book, about a wise talking gorilla who predicts how humans are destroying the Earth and all life upon it, but it’s also funny and humble, and though Quinn wrote before environmentalism became mainstream, it still feels revolutionary.

Books like this remind me what books are capable of. Some books are good while you’re in ’em, while they last. Like a nice meal: you enjoy it, you’re entertained by some lovely flavors, but then you finish up, pay the bill (return it to the library). You move on, and you eat another meal the next day.

Great books stick with you. Great books are like eating the perfect hamburger: that moment of “Aha!” when you realize what hamburgers are capable of, what they’ve always been capable of but had forgotten because they are so often mediocre–why you keep tasting and trying them. Why you’re trying to make one yourself.

I went to the L.A. Times Festival of Books this weekend. Thousands of books, thousands of people who like books–what could be better? Turns out, what could be better was writing about a book festival. It was a sunny Saturday. Families miled, college students strolled, and people looked at books, listened to authors, and munched on Kettle Korn.

While folks were meandering around the UCLA campus, I dashed up hills and power-walked over a rather knobby and beautiful stone walkway, seeking internet to file a story. (File a story! Who says that?) I covered the event for the LAT book blog, which was awesome. And, when I say awesome–though that it was–I also mean insanely stressful, as we had to turn in articles within hours of the events were were covering (as is the practice for, well, all working journalists.) My first exposure to tight-deadline writing was…tense, but, in the end, rewarding.

Woohoo! The skinny on Hungry Girl’s low-calorie success from Lisa Lillien made it up to the actual latimes.com site.

Who says print isn’t dead? Dave Eggers, of course. Speaking of print not being dead, a blurb from that one, above, made it into the print edition yesterday.

My favorite quote of the weekend came from this panel–Curiosity, wonder, and finding a narrative thread.

David Grann, a writer from the New Yorker, said, in response to a question of doom and gloom and the downfall of the written word: “The hunger for stories and the magic of stories isn’t going to go away,” he said. “People still want to be moved and you don’t get moved in a tweet and you don’t get moved in a blog post.”

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