You wouldn’t start your exercise program by running ten miles (or so I hear). So why is it when people decide they want to start reading again, they reach for something heavy? “Now where did I put my copy of War and Peace?” If your best reading lately has been People magazine and the back covers of cereal boxes while you’re in a pre-coffee stupor, then you need to start small. Or, more accurately, short. Here are four books under 200 pages to get you started.
700 Sundays by Billy Crystal is an adaptation of his stage play of the same name. It’s a biography more of his family than of the actor himself. He talks about growing up in the Bronx, and about losing his father. And I say talks rather than writes because you can almost hear his voice as you read this book. There’s lots of humor, but it’s not all funny I mean, the man lost his father. Overall, an enjoyable and quick read.
Skip this entry if you like George W. Bush. Are they gone? Okay, here’s a book that says everything you liberal left-leaners wanted to say about the state of our nation now, but just weren’t clever enough to. After all, you’re no Kurt Vonnegut. In A Man Without a Country, you’ll read everything you thought and some things you didn’t come up with yet, but so cleverly written you’ll want to turn back to the beginning of the book and read it all over again.
Welcome back. Now, my husband and I disagree about Harry Frankfort’s book On Bullshit. He thinks it is an intriguing philosophical discussion about what bullshit really entails. I think that the book is itself an exercise in bullshit, thus validating its own existence. At 80 pages long, you can join the discussion and say to your friends, “I just finished this book in line at the DMV.”
Now, Steve Martin may be a wild and crazy guy, but you wouldn’t know it reading Shopgirl. Almost nothing happens in this story, which is what makes it interesting to me. In real life you don’t meet someone because you’re driving a bus that will explode if it goes below 55 mph, and there’s this guy, and he’s really cute, and he happens to be helping you survive and save the lives of all of the other passengers. No, you meet someone, maybe it works out, maybe not. This could be called a chick book, but I won’t categorize it that way for two reasons. One, Steve Martin wrote it, and he is a man. Two, at 130 pages, you men will get incredible insight into women at a minimal reading investment. Case in point: Where the older man explains to the young girl that he is not looking for a relationship, but she interprets his statements in her own way. Explains a lot for me.