A lot of people I know have mixed feelings about my home town, but one thing that’s undeniable about Boston is that it hosts tens of thousands of academic types, from undergrads, to professors, to grad students, to visiting artists, not to mention people who work in technology, medicine and publishing. In other words, people who read a lot!
It’s not unusual for me to walk onto a rush hour bus (the 39 bus for you locals) and find almost half the commuters reading a book (or Kindle or Nook; or even reading on their cell phone).
What is unusual (even for this place) is that I’m on some kind of weird book-finding streak. Without trying, I’ve found four abandoned books, pictured above, over the last five months.
Book #1 A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Found on top a heap of rubbish on Huntington Ave. Luckily, the rubbish was housewares and other books. Nonfiction Humor about hiking the Appalachian Trail. Already finished and very much enjoyed!
Book #2: The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted by the alliteratively named Harry Harrison. Found clearly abandoned on a table in JP Licks Ice Cream Store at the corner of Tremont and Huntington Ave (Brigham Circle for you locals). I remember The Stainless Steel Rat as one of those series that I would always notice in the sci-fic sections of bookstores in the 80’s and 90’s. I’m not sure I’m going to read this, actually, but it sparked strong feelings of nostalgia.
Book #3: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. Found all by itself, just sitting on the sidewalk on Longwood Avenue, not far from Coolidge Corner. This is the book that “made” Jonathan Franzen and also the subject of a big flap because Oprah Winfrey picked it as one of her book-of-the-month selections (quite an honor) and Franzen declined to accept. I do plan to read this eventually- as does my wife.
Book #4: To Sail the Century Sea by GC Edmonson. (1981 edition!) Discovered balanced on a brick wall outside City Feed and Supply on Centre Street in the neighborhood of Jamaica Plain, Boston. This is the only book of the batch I’d never heard of, and – in all honesty- I might not read it. It’s a sci-fi time travel mashup of the kind that I would have found engaging in my early teens.