This latest book review begs the question: Why did I just read that? I am a student of literature, I like to think of myself, pretentiously at times, so why would I spend any minutes of my life reading a teen bio on popsters Duran Duran (by Toby Goldstein)?:
To answer this question I have to go back one year ago exactly, to early April. I took one look around my library and realized that I had no free bookshelf space available. In order to free up some space, I decided, finally, to read some of the books that I had had for close to twenty years.
I work in a library, and one of the perks of the job is that I get to go through people’s book donations. The overwhelming majority of the books people donate to us are tossed in the trash, and whatever the library does not want, we can take home. It’s like going to work at a free second-hand bookstore. One might say that any library donation that I in turn “donated to myself” is like having a library book on permanent loan. In other words, I don’t have any urgent need to read it then return it. As long as I had real library books on loan to myself, with the obligation to bring them back, as well as my own books that I bought, these “self-donations” are low-priority on the reading meter. Since I owned them, I could read them whenever I wanted, right?
Right. Even if it took me twenty years to do it. That was my reading story of 2009: it was my year of fiction, as I finally got down to reading classics by George Orwell, Anaïs Nin, Arthur C. Clarke, Jacqueline Susann, Philip Roth, J. D. Salinger, and so many others that predate these book reviews. I freed up shelf space and then made the whole effort moot anyway when I went to Ikea and got two wide Billy shelves that were on sale, giving me bookshelf space to last until my next European vacation where I study a new endangered language.
Now to my last three book reviews. After my year of fiction, and after I read all five books by Helen Hooven Santmyer, I decided to tackle my performing arts self-donations. The autobiographies of Lawrence Welk and Eartha Kitt were followed by this short biography of Duran Duran, one of my favourite musical acts. Goldstein herself interviewed the band for Creem magazine in 1982. This bio dates from 1984, and it was published just before the group released their “Wild Boys” single and the live Arena album. For a teen bio, this was well researched and devoid of fluff, and, most thankfully, devoid of superfluous exclamation marks which often plague youth nonfiction. I was taken down memory lane as I recalled Duran events from 28 years ago. This was a book I saw in a donation pile, thought it would be fun to spend a day or two reading, yet didn’t get around to doing that till twenty years later. Now I can re-donate it back to the library and see if we’ll take it this time.