Hey, I didn't take this photo and it's still out of focus! Maybe it's not me after all.
I was sure I'd read other books by Michael Dirda, but he doesn't appear in my Books Read list. I know I have one unread one in my possession. But I hadn't heard about this one until I read Stefanie's blog about it.
This book is a year's worth of his 'Browsings' columns, on books, reading, writing, and assorted other subjects, written for The American Scholar. I've added far too many books to my TBR list, based on Dirda's columns.
As I read this book, I decided that Mr. Dirda and I must be twins separated at birth. We don't look alike and he's a few years older than I am, but we sure agree on lots of things. It's almost eerie. We gravitated toward the same books and authors when we were kids, I agree entirely with his rants about his ill-fated trip to Rocky Mountain National Park and his local electric company, and his feelings about his aging mother in an assisted living facility mirror mine when my late mother was in an assisted living facility.
'Mr. Zinsser, I Presume' and 'Style is the Man' are about writing well. 'Bookish Pets' is about animals in books and stories. Dirda loves adventure stories, especially those written in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Jules Verne, A. Conan Doyle, H. Rider Haggard, H. G. Wells, Rudyard Kipling. I love them, too. I'm currently reading Tarzan of the Apes because, well, because I've never read it and it's on Dirda's list of the best adventure tales. I made a list of them and plan to read the ones I haven't. And maybe re-read the ones I have.
He is more fond of fantasy and science fiction than I am. But I'm willing to dip into both genres if he suggests them. And he does. I don't like outer space science fiction, but I do like the kind where ants grow really big and eat all the people. That's my idea of good fun.
He likes paper and notebooks, and so do I. I'm guessing you might also have cupboards and boxes full of unused notebooks, tablets, and paper, right? There is an essay on whether authors should continue to write in old age, one about book sales, and lots about book stores, especially used book stores.
Dirda says that as he gets older, he appreciates older books more than contemporary books. I used to have a 'dead authors' rule of thumb: an author had to have been dead for at least 50 years before I'd read him or her. But I've read more contemporary fiction in the past few years than I ever have before. That's mostly due to reading fellow book blogger's posts.
I think I've given you a taste of Mr. Dirda. I enjoyed each essay and I look forward to reading more of his books.