Books: Door stoppers

When I began this blog, I made a choice to write about books and art and cities and food I admire. Too easy to pick on the second rate! But as a new decade dawned, and “best of” lists spawned, I couldn’t help thinking about the piles of books in my home and office, books I can’t finish and can’t pass on, because no one will take or buy: door stoppers.

I know, I know: buy a Kindle. But I like books, big books, messy full-bodied reads. Hardy, Dickens, Tolstoy. From the here and now: Price, Russo, Ishiguro, Diaz. Their weight, their textured jackets, their pages.

I end up with door stoppers because I take chances; I want to find and devour good reads, to be taken in, seduced. These led me on, but left me cold.

51i0myldlol_sl160_aa115_1) I am Charlotte Simmons, Tom Wolfe. Pre-ordered from Amazon. Read 90 pages. A boring, predictable read from the master of the universe? When I tried to sell, hundreds of new copies already for sale, for $1.40. Later, a born-again friend invited me for coffee; she was troubled Charlotte gave up her virginity. All I could say was, “You read that whole book?!?”

2) Man Gone Down, Michael Thomas. Interesting set up: a black man has only a few days to regain his young family. That’s all: an interesting set up.

3) And then We Came to the End, Joshua Ferris. Don’t know anyone who made it to this book’s end. Told in the collective first person.

4) The Emperor’s Children, Claire Messud. New York narcissists? My kind of story! One chapter. Friend who lent won’t take it back.

5) Beautiful Children, Charles Boch. A child is missing: where’s the urgency?

6) Driftless, David Rhodes. If fly-over country is this odd, we’re doomed.

7) A Gate at the Stairs, Lorrie Moore. Same suspicions as above, re fly-over country. Provocative ideas, none fleshed out.

8) Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Marisha Pessl. One breathless chapter.

9) Away, Amy Bloom. Rapturous reviews, ludicrous tale. When my friend Jennifer wouldn’t take it back, we left in on an empty seat at a book signing.

10) The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver. Read to page 62. Bland character heading into a Forrest Gump life. Even my niece, a Kingsolver fan, won’t take it off my hands.

Also in the blog

If you’re like me and read everything good, then bad, about blood-testing entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes you might think you don’t need to read John Carreyou’s Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Start Up. You do. The story is soooo crazy and Carreyou tells it like a thriller. Founded in 2003 after she dropped


“I use Grammarly’s plagiarism detector because no one likes a capy cot!” I don’t especially like reading on a Kindle — click…click…click — but I’d pressed the Amazon wireless “buy” for Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings: A Novel so that’s how I read it. Click…click…click…all weekend, flying to and from Ottawa, Canada, where I was visiting


In these unsettling times, my reader friends tell me they’re reaching for fun or light or soothing reads. A comfort, for me, is a big read. Below, a few that have taken me far far away from CNN, my Facebook feed, the daily papers. I loved C.E. Morgan’s All the Living and looked forward to


One thought on "Books: Door stoppers"

  • Jacquie Kohn says:

    Thanks for the why are we so fat article!!
    Great work losing the extra pounds. It’s amazing when the weight starts to come off not eating is more rewarding than the taste of food.
    Forwarding your blog to my Book Group leader Rachel Jacobsohn.

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