Friday, December 03, 2004

Last Chapter for Booknotes

Read in order to live.
Gustave Flaubert, French novelist.

Another farewell, this time to C-Spans’ Booknotes. This was one of The Misanthrope’s favorite shows. For about two years, we watched the show regularly. It is a bit dry, but if the discussion is regarding a book one has read or is interested in but may never read it, it is a great show.

In many ways, it is a history lesson. All of the books discussed were non-fiction. The host of the show Brian Lamb, who is also the founder and CEO of C-SPAN, asked simple questions and allowed the author to respond. He did not try to showcase his intelligence through long-winded questions.

Among the guests interviewed on the show, to use Lamb's classification from his book, "Booknotes: American’s finest Authors on Reading, Writing and the Power of Ideas" were:

Storytellers: Shelby Foote, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Stephen Ambrose, Richard Reeves, Daniel Boorstin, John Keegan, David Remnick, Joseph J. Ellis, and many others.

Public Figures: Richard Nixon, Mikhail Gorbachev, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Robert McNamara, William Rehnquist, Hannan Ashrawi, Margaret Thatcher, and many others.

Reporters: David Halberstam, Lewis Lapham, Peter Arnett, Kevin Phillips, Garry Wills, George Will, Anna Quindlen, Thomas Friedman, William F. Buckley, Jr. and many others.

Lamb says he's not tired of reading. “But I am tired of having to read a book every week — on my own time.” He figures he has read 320,000 pages. The Misanthrope guesses that Toner Mishap colleagues (B2 and On The Mark) have an almost similar reading pace.

His final guest Sunday (8 and 11 p.m. ET/5 and 8 p.m. PT) will be University of Virginia professor Mark Edmundson, author of Why Read?, a celebration of literature and a critique of the way it is taught. The Misanthrope cannot think of a better way to sign off.

Reading—I discovered—comes before writing. A society can exist—many do exist—without writing, but no society can exist without reading.
Alberto Manguel, Argentinian writer

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