The New York Times Sunday book section does a weekly feature called “by the book” in which the Times poses a series of questions to writers about their reading and writing habits. For the real writers – as opposed to the occasional celebrity who has used his or her fame to get an undeserved book contract to produce a piece of garbage that will outsell the collected works of dozens of real writers – the questions are pretty uniform. Typical questions include:
What books are on your nightstand?
What’s your favorite book of all time?
What kinds of stories are you drawn to? And what do you steer clear of?
What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?
Who is your favorite overlooked or underappreciated writer?
What kind of reader were you as a child?
What book did you feel you were supposed to like, and didn’t? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?
Also included in the “interview” – The Curmudgeon suspects these exchanges are conducted entirely by email – has been, since well before the current nimrod loaded up his truck and moved to Washington, D.C. ,
If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?
You would be amazed, readers – amazed, The Curmudgeon tells you! – at how many of the writers respond rather simply that they cannot envision Donald Trump actually sitting down and reading any book under any circumstances.
Recently, though, mystery writer John Sandford replied that
I don’t know, but I suspect it’d have to come with a massive amount of Chapstick.
It’s a sad state of affairs to think that the occupant of the White House wouldn’t be caught dead reading an actual book. Even George W. Bush, not exactly regarded as an intellectual heavyweight, was known to consume mass quantities of books.
But not our current president. From what we’ve been told, any information that can’t be boiled down to a few words written in big print on index cards, accompanied by photos, is unlikely to work its way through that helmet of hair he wears on his head and penetrate his brain.