The Spectacle Blog

Not a Great Year for Books

By on 12.20.13 | 7:04PM

Not a great year for books, was it?  Still there were standouts. Radley Balko’s Rise of the Warrior Cop told us why we shouldn’t trust our local police: Because they’re liable to kill us (and then get away with it). And just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, Charles Murray comes along in Coming Apart (2013 reprint edition) to tell us how the rot has spread throughout the underclass, white and black.

Of novels, there’s the new Michael Connelly Gods of Guilt. Haven’t cracked it, but it’s got to be great. And let me not forget cousin Jonathan: Jonathan Buckley’s Nostalgia.

Do you know what the problem is, with novels today? They’re written by idiots whom we despise. I mean, seriously, would you want a preening, smug Jonathan Franzen, the literary equivalent of Pajama Boy, as a neighbor?

So let me let you in on a secret. The trick to finding books you’d enjoy reading is look for an author you’d like to have a beer or a coffee with. And if there aren't too many of them around, you’ll find more of them in the writers of sixty years or a hundred and sixty years ago.

Here’s how I used to look for books in public libraries. Forget about recent acquisitions. Go into the stacks and look for the beat-up, rebound books. There you’ll find the ripping good yarns. And since libraries have been tossing out the older books to make way for current trash, get onto Amazon. Find someone you like, then hit advanced search and type in hardcover, and all the books the public libraries have trashed will appear. 

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