Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Did You Hear?

A mishmash of interesting things in the news lately makes me want to share them, in case the things that come to my attention are not necessarily things that other people know about. I'm never sure if I'm out of touch, or just in touch with a different reality.

Did you hear about Rebound Designs, which sells purses made from old books, and wallets made from old paperbacks? I have mixed feelings about this, but the proprietor seems sensitive to the fact that she's destroying books. I just hope she's checking the used book prices before she starts cutting! Otherwise that could be one expensive purse.

This reminds me of the time I helped out at a church basement sale in the tiny town of Plymouth, New Hampshire. We had a box of FREE books left over at the end of the sale, and the woman in charge directed me to throw them into the dumpster. Even though the word "valueless" is pretty thoroughly defined by the phrase "Yankee yard sale freebie leftover," I just couldn't do it. It made me feel like a Nazi.

Did you hear that The Elements of Style is turning 50 this week? I'm one of those people who calls it "Strunk and White" and uses it regularly. It's really all you need to know to write well. Not only is it full of splendid advice, it's delightful to read and its own best example. I'll stack Strunk and White's "Omit needless words" up against Thoreau's "Simplify, simplify, simplify" any day. (Seriously. Did he really need to say it three times?)

Did you hear NPR's unscientific picks of the most "forgotten" Pulitzer prize for fiction winners? There were some spirited defenses of some of their picks, and now my interest is piqued. As a self-identified book snob, I have avoided adopting the Pulitzer fiction list because it is "too popular." But now I'm thinking: it might be really interesting to read the more obscure ones. Maybe I could start with the ones I've never heard of before.

Yeah, like I need any more books on my TBR list!


  1. True about The Elements of Style. It's the best.

    But don't abandon the Pulitzer just because the books tend to be popular. Some were popular because they were GOOD.

  2. My Elements of Style is on the boat...I'll get it back this summer. I miss it.

  3. Glad to hear I'm not the only one who loves trusty old Strunk & White.

    And you're right, Rose: I shouldn't let snobbery interfere with a good reading list.


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