Stephen Baker

The Numerati
Home - Viewing one post

Rethinking books

October 3, 2010General

We're new empty-nesters. I think it's affecting how we think.

Yesterday I was trying to remove some of the clutter from the trunk of the car, and I pulled out a golf driver with a sawed-off shaft, the grip fashioned with adhesive tape. This was something I made for our youngest son, now a freshman in college, when he was in fifth grade. And it had been hanging around in our trunk ever since.

This got me to thinking about all the stuff that just hangs around in our lives through inertia (with a dose of sentimentality and wishful thinking thrown in). And that got me to thinking about books. Our house is bursting with them. And if we were living on the Kansas prairie 140 years ago, we'd want to keep every single one. Winters were long out there. And you never knew when you might want to read War and Peace or Elmore Leonard's Pagan Babies again.

Consider this: BusinessWeek actually paid for many of these books to move from El Paso to Mexico to Pittsburgh to Paris and back to New Jersey, and many of them completed that entire odyssey without being opened, much less read. So yesterday we filled up eight supermarket bags with books and are getting rid of them. We put some of the most tempting out on the front yard. People are passing them with their dogs. They browse. I watch them through the window, hoping they keep their dogs from putting their chemical stamp on the works. The pile isn't shrinking as fast as I'd like. I think a lot of people are rethinking books. Tomorrow I'll go back to writing mine.


©2023 Stephen Baker Media, All rights reserved.     Site by Infinet Design

Kirkus Reviews -

LibraryJournal - Library Journal

Booklist Reviews - David Pitt

Locus - Paul di Filippo

read more reviews

Prequel to The Boost: Dark Site
- December 3, 2014

The Boost: an excerpt
- April 15, 2014

My horrible Superbowl weekend, in perspective
- February 3, 2014

My coming novel: Boosting human cognition
- May 30, 2013

Why Nate Silver is never wrong
- November 8, 2012

The psychology behind bankers' hatred for Obama
- September 10, 2012

"Corporations are People": an op-ed
- August 16, 2011

Wall Street Journal excerpt: Final Jeopardy
- February 4, 2011

Why IBM's Watson is Smarter than Google
- January 9, 2011

Rethinking books
- October 3, 2010

The coming privacy boom
- August 17, 2010

The appeal of virtual
- May 18, 2010