Arts Desk

Five Books I’d Read


in which the author discusses five books he'd read, if time permitted.

1. Bike Snob: Systematically and Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling, by BikeSnobNYC.
Drivers and pedestrians, consider the benefits of a bike-free world: no weaving around cyclists who, with undisguised glee and unrestrained aplomb, take to the sidewalks; no obnoxious couriers with their white dreds, love of lager, and taste for bands who play at IOTA; no feigning interest in your anarchist friends' Chain Reaction bike-ins; the parlours of punk group houses uncluttered; the walls of those same houses unscuffed by taped-up handlebars and unmarred by greasy chains; the streets of major metropoli freed from an unnavigable mishmash of bike lanes; more space in landfills now occupied by broken/lost bike helmets that take slightly less time than plutonium to biodegrade; no "dooring"; no awkward bike racks on sidewalks or on the front of Metrobuses; no obnoxious bicycle repairpersons who scoff at an amateur cyclist's inability to straighten a bent short, paradise.

2. Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook, by Anthony Bourdain.
Sometimes a chef is so handsome—so confident, so witty, so tall, so rugged-looking, so worldly, and so devilishly clever—and sports such a thick tuft of salt-and-pepper hair that you just have to devour (ha!) every word he writes about food, cooking, and his now-defunct heroin addiction.

3. The King's Best Highway: The Lost History of the Boston Post Road, the Route That Made America, by Eric Jaffe.
I've been watching Deadwood a lot, so reading about olde timey post roads with lost histories appeals.

4. Citrus County, by John Brandon.
This guy wrote another book called Arkansas that I liked. This is another book by him, also published by McSweeneys. (Dear McSweeneys Publicists: I appreciate that, after learning, through Google Alerts, that I frequently write about McSweeneys books in this column, you contacted me and offered me review copies of upcoming McSweeneys titles. As I explained via email, I wanted to re-iterate that 1) I don't need review copies of McSweeneys titles, as I am already a paying member of the McSweeneys Book Club; 2) I rarely read copies of books that I write about in "Five Books I'd Read," as the whole premise of the weekly blog post is to make fun of service journalists/blurb writers who always pretend to know more about something than they possibly could when blurb-writing; 3) having too much information about any given title, or actually having read said title is inimical to its inclusion in "Five Books I'd Read"; 4) I don't know how to spell "McSweeneys," especially in the possessive ("McSweeney's?" "McSweeneys'?"); 5) Dave Eggers and I share a birthday; 6) if you stumble upon this metareview via Google Alerts and write me about it, I will be impressed with both your diligence and the quality of Google Alerts' search engine.)

5. Uncharted TerriTORI, by Tori Spelling.
At my liberal arts college, I learned that we were living in the society of the spectacle. When I graduated, I earned little and worked long hours at a few nonprofit institutions, insisting (by action, if not in words) that our society was not necessarily a society of the spectacle, but a society founded on capital-G Great capital-P Principles that were still relevant o'er 200 years after America's founding. Then, I got burnt out, and thought, "Fuck it—we are living in the society of the spectacle," and made many vacant artistic gestures to demonstrate my cool Bret Easton Ellisonian vapidity. Then, I got old and soft and thought, "Well, we might be living in the society of the spectacle, but we don't have to act like characters in The Informers," and made fewer vacant, Ellisonian artistic gestures, even if I maintained, in my heart of hearts, a vacant, vapid, Ellisonian attitude. But, now I'm even older and even more burnt out and and miss the society of the spectacle, so I'm buying Tori Spelling's book and retreating to a room at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City for the next six-to-eight months, so if you're looking for me, just ask at the front desk, and when you come up to my room, bring amphetamines.

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