Books at hand

Hit and Miss #160

As stores gradually reopened over the summer, I realized it’d been several months since I’d bought a book. This was probably a good thing—growing the stacks needs to be offset by time spent actually reading my way through them.

But the other week, I returned to my used bookstore, and started perusing again. It was nice to be back. The owner and I have a rapport, we’ll happily pass the time talking shop and musing about how things have been going. The business closures were hard on my usual store, as they were for so many, and I like to support the small places I want to see carry on.

So I’ve been buying books again. It was only May that I last bought new shelves, but they’re near full again. The new books are piling up where there’s extra room. We’re not in crisis mode yet—I’m trying to moderate my book buying pace, to cool the appetite. The long time not buying books seems to have helped that, somewhat.

Anyway, so what am I reading?

  • The Break by Katherina Vermette shares the story of a cast of characters—mostly family, plus some they encounter—after one of them—a daughter / granddaughter / great-granddaughter, depending on the chapter’s perspective—is attacked one cold night in Winnipeg’s North End. It’s compelling, filled with small pieces of commentary that shift your perspective.
  • The Public Philosophy by Walter Lippmann. Begun just before and finished after the Second World War, it grapples with democracy in the light of totalitarianism and other threats to democratic ideals. It’s, uh, a timely read even today….
  • A Civic Technologist’s Practice Guide by Cyd Harrell. Cyd has condensed so much experience and learning into this one book, it’s a joy to read. An inspiration, too—a reminder that many have grappled with the problems of civic technology, that you’re not alone in facing headwinds or frustrations, that there are good principles on which to base your practice. (And the book looks great, too.)

It’s a rewarding thing to consciously turn off a screen and open a book. It provides some much needed mental distance. I hope you’re able to find that space when you need it, however works for you. All the best for the week ahead!