So I went to pick up four weeks of comics on Friday night (Hellboy, Elephantmen, The Astounding Wolf-Man, DMZ, The Invincible Iron Man, The Walking Dead, B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth, Baltimore:The Plague Ships, Fables, and Sweet Tooth) and as I was paying, the guy on the other side of the counter said I was the third person today he saw reading Lee Child's 61 Hours. He asked me what I thought of it and I gave him my standard Lee Child answer (the books are tremendously entertaining, expertly crafted popular fiction, and even though the books may sound like a horrific cliche that they are quite wonderful).
I went to a used bookstore today and picked up three more of the Inspector Montalbano mysteries by Andrea Cammileri, Hotbed by Bill James, the latest William Trevor novel, Love and Summer, a reading copy of Doors Open by Ian Rankin, and A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny. There were a lot more books I could have left with but something I just read (http://olmansfifty.blogspot.com/2010/12/67-corpse-on-dike-by-janwillem-van-de.html) made me put them back.
Olman just read The Corpse on the Dike by Janwillem van der Wetering and only sort of liked it. And he's going to read another book in the series before he decides if he's going to read more. This is a very sensible, level-headed approach. Very much unlike me. I have most of van de Weterings books and I've been wanting to read them for a while. I'd heard good things about them and I love police procedurals. And I enjoying tracking down all the books I'll need to be able to read a series in the proper order so to me, buying up a bunch of books that I do not know if I will like does not seem irrational. But maybe it is. It hadn't occurred to me that I would not like these books.
I put back a few books by Alan Furst. I have five or six of his books already and hear nothing but great things about him. Really, I should drop everything on go on a Furst-binge, he's supposed to be that good.
But I have known this since I first read about Furst in New York magazine some seven or eight years ago. And I haven't gotten around to reading a single one. So I put them back.
The Bill James book I got, Hotbed, is something like the 26th or 27th installment in series about Harper and Iles, English cops. I've accumulated maybe 11 or 12 of the books - but haven't actually read one yet. And the three Inspector Montalbano books - police procedurals set in Sicily - same story. Two massive violations of the Olman Rule. I'm thinking that maybe this will be how I treat new things I come across. Bill James and Andrea Cammileri are grandfathered in but everyone else in 2011, maybe I'll apply that test to.
When I was paying for my books, the guy on the other side of the counter asked me what I thought about William Trevor as he had never read him. I gave him my standard William Trevor answer - that he is the greatest short story writer alive today and that he should pick up his Collected Stories and read some of them.
These two encounters have had me thinking about where I find out about what I want to read. Lately its been all Donald Westlake and Richard Stark. Which means Existential Ennui and the Violent World of Parker have a big impact on what I'm going to read. My favorite book critic - Maureen Corrigan - just came out with her list of the best books of the year. The Rap Sheet is a continually great source of crime and mystery novels. Other websites of note are Detectives Beyond Borders and i09.com. The best sources in the offline world continue to be the New York Times, Washington Post, the New Yorker, the TLS, the Guardian, the New York Review of Books, and the London Review of Books. National Public Radio has amazing book coverage. So does BBC Radio 4 - or what I have access to, mainly Front Row. I miss the Times of London - they've disappeared behind a paywall and it is almost impossible to obtain a copy of the paper in the US anymore.