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Why choose a best seller?  One sure reason to select a book that other people have selected in droves is to see ourselves, as in a mirror, for what we truly are.  Few books certainly achieve the status of either award winner or certifiable classic, but sometimes it’s nice to say to someone, “Yes, I’ve read that book.”  Over dinner with friends the conversation will invariably turn to the question: “What you are reading?”  I generally have at least three books on my nightstand.  Usually the book or books I’m currently teaching, whether it is Mandelbaum’s version of The Odyssey of Homer, Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, or Two Old Women by Velma Wallis.   I also try to juggle some other books for my own sanity like Dave Egger’s work, Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible,  Micheal Riera and Joseph Di Prisco’s Field Guide to the American Teenage, and The Best American Short Stories of 2000.   

If Mount Hood blew like Vesuvius and archeologists in the year 3923 had to make sense of it all using my books, I’m not quite sure what they would say.  However, I hope that they would see the intense respect for the culture in all its many guises; maybe they would see the abiding curiosity of the new ancients; but hopefully they would see the struggle to know myself through the eyes and words of others.  In an attempt to turn that inane saying around so that it finally makes some sense:  So little time, so many books.


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