Book Smarts

Joe Queenan is addicted to books. Any chance he gets, he reads, as noted in One for the Books, which was excerpted last month in the Wall Street Journal:

I read books in all the obvious places—in my house and office, on trains and buses and planes—but I’ve also read them at plays and concerts and prizefights, and not just during the intermissions. I’ve read books while waiting for friends to get sprung from the drunk tank, while waiting for people to emerge from comas, while waiting for the Iceman to cometh.

But not just any book—Queenan reads almost exclusively fiction. For him it’s an escape—escape from the boredom of our mundane lives. But then he delves deeper:

I grew up in a Brand X neighborhood with parents who had trouble managing money because they never had any, and lots of times my three sisters and I had no food, no heat, no television. But we always had books. And books put an end to our misfortune. Because to the poor, books are not diversions. Book are siege weapons.

As far as Journal essays go, it’s on the lengthy side. But it’s worth every word.

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