Readings Redux

Yardley ends “Second Readings,” a fine skein of retrospective reviews.

Book Cover The Washington Post’s Jonathan Yardley is a useful and valuable commentator on books and culture, whose good work stands out in an increasingly degraded enterprise (the reviewing of books in some few hundred words for newspapers). Since February 2003, he has been devoting an occasional column to, as he puts it, a “reconsideration of notable and/or neglected books from the past.”

On January first, attending to the The Collected Stories of Peter Taylor (which, by the way, are wonderful, especially one entitled “The Old Forest”1), Yardley announced, “With that, this series of ‘Second Readings’ comes to an end. It began in February 2003 and has covered nearly 100 books. Probably it could go on a while longer, but it’s best to quit before you start repeating yourself.”

The list of books can be found here and is wonderfully idiosyncratic and wide-ranging. Which is, of course, beside the point—the point being that “Second Readings” was a persistent and engaging reminder that books have a longer, incalculable shelf life than groceries and other such commodities. This is an attribute woefully overlooked in the helter-skelter, willy-nilly rush to pound out all manner of product for the herds of grazing consumers.

1 Yardley comments: “If you look more closely at my Second Reading piece, you'll realize that the story collection was published in 1969, about a decade and a half before ‘The Old Forest.’ So far no ‘complete’ stories has been published, though I hope someday it will be.”
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