Keeping, and Discarding, Books | National Review

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My Impromptus column today begins with Kamala Harris (a bitter memory of). Other topics include: a Chinese scholar who has been abused by the state and assisted by Harvard; the Republican Party and QAnon; the report of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Russian interference in our 2016 election; and Christopher Columbus.

Yesterday, I had a post headed “Flipper, a Stripper, and More.” A reader says I should have squeezed in a mention of Reagan — allowing for the headline “Flipper, a Stripper, the Gipper, and More.” D’oh!

Another reader, responding to my article “An Ordeal in Prague,” writes,

I remember the Prague Spring and the Soviet invasion. (My God, what a lousy year 1968 was.) I was a teenage NR subscriber and I remember one of those wonderfully sardonic Eastern Bloc jokes that were published in The Week:

Alexander Dubcek calls Brezhnev and tells him that Czechoslovakia has established a Ministry of the Navy. Brezhnev says, “What do you need with a navy, you have no seacoast?” To which Dubcek replies, “So what? You have a Ministry of Justice and Bulgaria has a Ministry of Culture.”

Funny the things that you remember after more than half a century.


A reader writes,

Mr. N.:

. . . I am in a crisis because we are moving and downsizing and I am donating really good books to the Salvation Army here in Lapeer (MI). At 55 I have realized that I will never live to read all the books I own and have justified giving many away because I have access to a good, statewide library system. I am wondering about your living space in NYC. At the risk of being nosey, how do you house all the books you love?

The writer has a P.S.:

I am counting on having a large “Professor Henry Higgins” library space in Heaven, complete with rolling ladders, and plan to block off the first 10,000 years there for the reading of books. Also, I wonder if people are still writing new books, songs, etc., on the other side. (Beethoven’s Tenth, anyone?)

Ha — when Brahms (finally) produced his first symphony, the conductor Hans von Bülow dubbed it “Beethoven’s Tenth.” (In the spirit of our letter-writer: I wonder whether Mahler has completed his tenth. He left us just one movement.)

I have as many books as I can, I suppose. In a big, rambling house, I would have many more. But, strangely enough, I seldom return to books I have read. I look things up, occasionally — but not often. There is so much new, by which I mean, so much unread. I am not a re-reader. Hard enough being a reader?

As for looking things up — well, the Net.

Once, I had thousands of CDs. I was drowning in them. Could not give them away. Young people won’t even use them as coasters. They look at them as one might look at Victrolas or something. I threw a lot out — just dumped ’em. Seemed wasteful — even wrong — but . . .

YouTube may be the greatest thing since the wheel.

Finally, I’d like to show you a ball — a golf ball. NR aficionados will get a kick out of it. Friend of mine sent me a dozen of these babies:

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