Recent reading & some book thoughts

Read two big novels on the road: Fernanda Eberstadt’s The Furies, which I liked quite a bit, and Frederick Busch’s A Memory of War, which I liked less, but thought masterfully written.
I’ve just gotten some new books to read: Wallace Stegner’s Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West, Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire, a Season in the Wilderness–both inspired by my Western road trip this past week–and also Abbey’s One Life at a Time, Please, Eberstadt’s When the Sons of Heaven Meet the Daughters of Earth, and James Ellroy’s My Dark Places.
Side note: The San Jose Library keeps the popular–and current–fiction on the third floor, but there is another area on the seventh floor where all the literature books–what I think of as the ‘complete’ fiction collection is kept. This is the floor where Louis Bromfield novels sit side by side with Amy Bloom’s short fiction, and the first editions of William Carlos Williams line up in a row beside the literary critiques. The stacks up here smell like old paper, paper made with a high rag content, lots of cotton in the mix, paper you could dream about eating if you were a child because it smells like a food called old books.
That old book smell intoxicated me for so many years–as a teenager, college student, and grad student–then I forgot about it. Now, I go back up in the stacks in the San Jose library and I smell it again, a reminder that all the old books are still there, their numbers growing daily.

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