Arts Desk

Five Books I’d Read

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

1. Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, by Lawrence Wright
People always want to talk about John Travolta's religious beliefs, sexuality, terrible hair plugs, terrible Christmas album with Olivia Newton-John, or comeback in Pulp Fiction, but never seem to mention that the guy is—or, at least, used to be—an absolutely incredible dancer. Have you seen Grease lately? Trav is up there swingin' and twistin' and hand jivin' with the best of them. Unbelievable. You go, Trav!

2. Science on American Television: A History, by Marcel Chotkowski LaFollette
Mr. Wizard ruled, but be honest: Did you ever really try to recreate any of his experiments in the kitchen? No. You watched the show, then channel-surfed over to Fox 29 to watch Benson.

3. The Zelmenyaners: A Family Saga, by Moyshe Kulbak, translated by Hillel Halkin
This first complete English-language translation of a classic of Yiddish literature is all-the-rage at NoMa bookclubs. Mazeltov, Federal City!

4. Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business, by John Mackey and Rajendra Sisodia
A colleague at work was like, "Hey man, check out this book, I think it's right up your alley." I was like, "Cool." But then I wondered: Why does a dude from work think that I am a morally upright person interested in the intersection of business and ethics? Is it because I saved the near-dead office plant from the trash can after it was unaccountably thrown away by some ne'er-do-well in IT? Or is it perhaps my affection for fair-trade toner?

5. Tenth of December, by George Saunders
Another book of short stories by another New Yorker contributor. Damn. These things multiply like earthworms when you cut them in half. I think I'll line my coffin with a few.

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