Books acquired: “Gather Yourselves Together,” “Ubik: The Screenplay,” Philip K. Dick; “Beginning to See the Light,” Ellen Willis; “Diners,” John Baeder.
Books read: “The Early Worm,” Robert Benchley; “The Columnist,” Jeffrey Frank; “The Best of Jack Williamson”; “Over the Edge,” Harlan Ellison; “The Planet of the Apes Chronicles,” Paul Woods.
Welcome back, book nerds! Time for another installment of my monthly series of what books I read the previous month. As predicted here last month, April saw me back to my usual five books, as opposed to the 22 super-slim volumes (almost an oxymoron) that I read in March.
My 2013 total is now an even 40. While that would seem to put me on track to read 120, 80 seems more likely, given that I’ve read all the very short books I own and that there are some longer books I want to get to this year (including a complex one for June).
My April books have one thing in common: They were purchased at the same store, Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore., in the course of visits in 2007 and 2010. Powell’s is a book-lover’s mecca, four floors and one city block of books, both new and used. I’ve been thinking of another trip to Portland but have felt sheepish because not only don’t I need any more books, I haven’t even read all the ones I’ve bought in that very city. Reading those would make me feel better about buying more.
What I read this time was, in the order listed above, a solid collection of Benchley’s humor essays, a very funny novel about a blowhard Washington columnist, a best-of story collection spanning 50 years (1928-1978) by a SF grand master, a so-so story collection by Ellison and a book about my guilty pleasure, the Planet of the Apes series.
I was embarrassed to buy it, of course. I do have that much self-awareness. As I opened it up, three years later, to read a few pages each night at bedtime, I thought, why am I reading this? Why would I spend a month of my life reading about Planet of the Apes? But I stuck with it, soon loved it and almost wish it were longer.
Best book of the month, though, is “The Columnist,” which pulls off the neat trick of being narrated by someone who’s clueless (the classic unreliable narrator) and yet still imparting all the information we need to judge him by.
I had 10 Portland-purchased books left to read and now I’m down to five. Not sure when I’ll get to those, as I have other things right now I want to read, but at least I’ve read all the ones from my first visit and cut the total in half.
Your turn. What have you been reading? Surely nothing about the Planet of the Apes.
Next month: Three or four random books, one of them from a library.