Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Back to the books

 It was a grand feeling to walk out of the Hamilton branch of the Pratt Library this morning with a selection of books under my arm. 

During the apprehensions and tensions of the pandemic, along with stresses at the job that I do not plan to describe, my reading dropped off sharply. Oh, I read articles in The New Yorker and The Atlantic and other publications online, but the appetite to devour books dwindled to next to nothing. 

Happily, release into retirement over the past three months or so saw appetite return. 

Penguin is bringing out Georges Simenon's Maigret novels in fresh translations, and I sampled ten or so of them. They're a quick read. I got through Robert Dallek's Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life without learning much that I hadn't already read elsewhere. Hillary Mantel's The Mirror and the Light, the last volume of her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, was a delight on every page, as was Edmund Morris's Theodore Rex

Isabel Wilkerson's Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents paralleled and illuminated much of the discussion about critical race theory, and Baynard Woods and Brandon Soderberg's I Got a Monster: The Rise and Fall of America's Most Corrupt Police Squad added considerably to what I already knew about the Gun Trace Task Force scandal. One of Our Own brought to an end the late Jane Haddam's Gregor Demarkian detective series, and rereading John Le CarrĂ©'s Smiley's People was as enjoyable as the first time. 

Jane Gardam's Old Filth, John Williams's historical epistolary novel Augustus, and the late Thomas Vinciguerra's Cast of Characters: Wolcott Gibbs, E.B. White and the Golden Age of The New Yorker had been on my to-read list for years. I went back to Eudora Welty's A Curtain of Green and Other Stories and Barbara Pym's Quartet in Autumn. 

Now, thanks to the Pratt, I can look forward to Jack Lynch's You Could Look It Up: The Reference Shelf from Ancient Babylon to Wikipedia. I haven't read anything by John O'Hara in forty years, so now I have a book of short stories to investigate, and I picked up Phillip Lopate's Portrait Inside My Head to reacquaint myself with his essays. 

The bookworm returns.