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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Food For Thought: From the Carleton Bookstore…

<m asked surprisingly often by customers if I have read every book in the Carleton Bookstore. As the General Books Manager in the store I have the good fortune to spend my days surrounded by titles that I would gladly devour. I am also frequently told that I have the ideal job because surely I must spend my day behind the counter reading to my heart’s content. If only that were true! Instead, like most people on campus, my days are a blur of activities and chores, both meaningful and mundane, that must be accomplished to keep the department functioning. The books go unread.

The Carleton Bookstore is a challenging environment. It is a rich resource for readers and a source of information, culture, and relaxation. The problem is that, for those very reasons, it is a source of temptation and frustration. Even through the blur of a busy day, titles beckon to be examined, perused and read. The refrain of “there’s not enough time” is everywhere.

We are fortunate to have an independent, locally owned, idiosyncratically stocked store in our midst. While I don’t get to spend my days reading, I am still informed and educated by the books that pass by me. It is worth taking the time out of a busy day to browse the store, to be surprised by a new title or intrigued by an old one. There is a rich world of ideas here. It is hard to say what it is about a book that captures a person’s attention or creates that sense of excitement, but here are a few that have created enthusiasm in the Bookstore.

We were so fortunate to have Leif Enger launch his book tour at Carleton on May 1. The story begins in Northfield and is informed by the Cannon River so his visit was very fitting. “So Brave, Young, and Handsome” contains all the elements of a wonderfully satisfying novel. Enger brings his unique and gifted voice as an old-fashioned storyteller to good use in this tale about an unassuming writer on an epic trip across the West in the year 1915. Populated with richly imagined, thoroughly credible characters, including a good bad guy and a bad good guy, a precociously knowing eleven-year-old, and Mexican girls, it is a tale of adventure, retribution, reconciliation and deep and abiding loves. Enger evokes the landscape and sense of place with the same care, lyricism, and joyful language with which he developes his story. Passionate fans of “Peace Like a River” will be delighted with this book and new Enger readers will be thrilled to discover him.

“The Uncommon Reader” by Alan Bennett is a delightfully entertaining novella. He imagines the Queen of England encountering a mobile library parked near Buckingham Palace while out chasing her runaway corgis. Discovering the joys of reading widely, she becomes an intelligent student of literature and ideas. Encouraged by Norman, a young man from the royal kitchens, she is fundamentally changed by books. Bennett provides us with a charming literary education and a story with a surprising and satisfying end.

Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein are the authors of “Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar. Aristotle and an Aardvark go to Washington: Understanding Doublespeak Through Philosophy and Jokes” is their new title. This timely title is about logic, philosophy and the ridiculous jargon generated by misleading politicians and pundits. The authors use biting humor and serious insights to help us examine what is actually being said and why it matters. This will certainly help you hone your ear to the current political debates.

One of the pleasures of being in the Bookstore is learning from customers about the books they care about. We certainly don’t have time to read everything we would like, but it is wonderful to share our enthusiasms.

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