One way to read -- or give the appearance of being well read -- is to skim through book catalogs from serious or less-than-traditional publishers. Last month when I was in Boston, I picked up the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 catalogs from one of my favorite bookstores, the MIT Press Bookstore (shown above), which is kind of a direct-to-consumer outlet for the prestigious MIT Press. You can look at their book catalogs online, but it really doesn't replace the glossy look and feel of fine, four-color printing on high quality paper. Their 100+ page catalog rates right up there with the Eighth Day Bookstore catalog, which is no longer being published and I sorely miss.
In addition to picking up the catalogs, I purchased a picture book about typewriters (Typewriter: The History, The Machines , The Writers by Tony Allen ), a book about memes from the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series and a book of essays (Paper Knowledge by Lisa Gitelman). The latter was a recommendation of the knowledgeable fellow working the register.
Bringing home catalogs is a potentially expensive indulgence because the catalog becomes a tempting extension of the bookstore and publisher. Here's just a few of the intriguing catalog entries from the Fall 2015 edition (the descriptions are theirs):
Fiction: Resentment: A Comedy, a new edition of first book in Gary Indiana's (yes, that is his "real" name and he's kind of well known in some literary circles) trilogy, which chronicles "the more-or-less permanent state of depraved indifference that characterized American life at the millennium's end." Literature: The Irresponsible Magician: Essays and Fiction by Rebekah Rutkoff. "Sharp, acerbic, and often humorous, her writings about contemporary culture reflect the present, in ways reminiscent of Renata Adler's and Joan Didion's writings about urban life in the late twentieth century. " Psychology and language education: Becoming Fluent: How Cognitive Science Can Help Adults Learn a Foreign Language by Richard Roberts and Roger Kreuz. Roberts and Kruez show how older adults can leverage their understanding of their own mental processes in learning a new language. Environment and urban planning: Sharing Cities: A Case for Truly Smart and Sustainable Cities by Duncan McLaren and Julian Agyeman. "Their case for sharing and solidarity offers a powerful alternative for urban futures to conventional 'race-to-the-bottom' narratives of competition, enclosure and division." Environmental justice and public health: Fracking the Neighborhood: Reluctant Activists and Natural Gas Drilling by Jessica Smartt Guillion. Touted as a greener alternative and a means to reduced dependence on foreign oil, natural gas development is an important part of American energy policy. Yet, as this book shows, it comes at a cost to the local communities who bear the health and environmental burdens. Geography and transportation: Transportation and Revolution: Pigeons, Mules, Canals and Vanishing Geographies of Subversive Mobility by Jacob Shell. This book challenges conventional wisdom about the supposed obsolescence of transport methods that have become marginalized in the modern era."
The latter looks like must-reading for Atlanta's own MARTA Book Club.