I’ve learned a lot from books and my favorite writers, who include Eve Babitz, Anna David, Joan Didion, Tim Ferriss, Malcolm Gladwell, Pete Hamill, Christopher Hitchens, Nick Hornby, Leslie Jamison, Jack Kerouac, Stephen King, Michael Lewis, Norman Mailer, Ed Sanders, William Styron, Gay Talese, Amber Tamblyn, Hunter S. Thompson, James Thurber, Calvin Trillin, Lynne Truss, Rob Walker and Tom Wolfe.
I use this blog to post reviews, observations, opinions, analysis, humor, satire, views and news, and I share what I have learned.
I started You Can Learn From Books in 2019, two years after my retirement from the Biloxi-Gulfport newspaper on the Mississippi Coast, where I worked for 45 years.
This is a new version of the blog. It became affiliated with DreamHost on Tuesday, 1-12-21, which gives it SEO, redirected servers and a cleaner look.
I’m happy with that and I’m certain DreamHost will point this blog in the right direction.
Image credit: YouTube screengrabof Beatles drummer Ringo Starr reading a book in “A Hard Day’s Night.”
I received a Goodreads email Thursday night (1-7-21) and the subject line was “John Rachel has invited you to the event: FREE READ … The Worst Book Ever Written!”
I was intrigued and couldn’t wait to see what this was all about from an author I knew nothing about.
I blocked out five minutes of my valuable 24/7 downtime for research as a warm prospective customer, a marketing term I learned from Mella Music.
Rachel’s Amazon page says that he “has written eight novels, three political non-fiction books, and a fantasy/travel/cookbook about the dietary preferences of mermaids.”
This is the pitch he delivered in the Goodreads email:
I hope you saw the humor. I did. I laughed
Imagine consciously branding your new book as the worst, a line basically stolen from Adam Weinstein.
You’re at risk for a great blunder like the one a New Orleans pizza chain made in the 1960s.
Mr. Pizza was the name of the business, which had TV ads and its slogan was “World’s Worst Pizza.”
“It wasn’t the worst, really,” New Orleans restaurant critic Tom Fitzmorris wrote in 2010. “They threw their own crusts and baked their pizzas in the classic Blodgett stone-floored ovens. But it wasn’t the best, either.
“The chain fell apart in the 1970s, but some of the restaurants kept going for years. VIP Pizza in River Ridge started as a Mr. Pizza and has never closed, although it’s not much like Mr. Pizza anymore.”
I never went to Mr. Pizza. I was never interested. I was young and gullible. When Mr. Pizza said it had the “World’s Worst Pizza,” I believed it was true. Back then, I was serious about pizza and I’m more serious about it now in my late 60s.
Rachel is joking about his own work. I recognize a really smart self-deprecator and self-effacer, and you’ve got to be careful spelling deprecator because you might make an embarrassing mistake.
As I edit this post, maybe those self words are incorrect.
He had me at “Coffee,” so I did what he said to do and emailed him immediately that I would appreciate a free copy of “Sex, Lies & Coffee Beans,” though I left out my preferred ebook format. That was fixed Friday morning (1-8-21) after I heard back from him.
I received my copy Friday night (1-8-21) and I’m excited to start reading it this week.
I took a look inside “Sex, Lies & Coffee Beans” and was entertained Friday night at Amazon, where the Kindle edition is just 99 cents, which is almost as good as free. Literary Vagabond is the publisher of the book, which came out on Dec. 20, 2020. You know, 20-20. Five days before Christmas. Merry, merry.
“Sex, Lies & Coffee Beans” is an American satire and work of fiction in which the main character is Dr. Joy Smothers, the folk-singing psychologist who played a major role in self-help in the 1980s and 1990s.
Joy Smothers. I like the sound of her name. I wonder if she believed that joy smothers. I wonder if she was related to the Smothers Brothers. I wonder if Dr. Joyce Brothers inspired her.
It doesn’t matter.
A Thursday night email can be the highlight of the week.
See the autograph that is in the image at the top of this fine piece of journalism?
It appears in one of the Barnes & Noble 2020 Black Friday editions and I was interested in buying the book until I saw the awful signature at the Gulfport store on Tuesday. I was stunned, but that didn’t stop me from taking a picture to show you, oh reader, how bad it is.
Anybody want to guess the signer?
Maybe these clues will help you.
An American songwriter, musician, author and record producer wrote the book.
An Esquire reviewer says the book is “one part manual for composing a song, and one part philosophical inquiry into the human desire—the human need—to create. It’s also an easy, delightful read.”
The author’s previous book is a memoir published in 2018.
OK, I think the clues will lead to someone identifying the writer. Really, I think I have offered too much information.
The first person with the correct ID will win a prize and that will depend on whether I’m still in the holiday mood.
Something that brought me immense joy in 2020 was the magical convergence of New Orleans, Melba’s, books and Matthew McConaughey on Nov. 24, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
McConaughey was on Facebook Live and Zoom from Austin, Texas, for a lively Q&A with fans who went to Melba’s to receive a free copy of his memoir, “Greenlights,” which was published in October.
It was the coolest author event of all time because of the excellent questions and the entertaining answers, a 60-minute exchange during lunchtime at the 24/7 restaurant on Elysian Fields. All time means all my time since 1951, the year I was born, so all time to you probably means something different.
And if you need to know what makes McConaughey cool, I’ll quote Joe Gross of austin360.com from a story he wrote in 2019:
I’ve had dinner at Melba’s a few times, just not this year because of home isolation in the pandemic, and I always order baked chicken, corn grits and baked macaroni. The next time I go there, I’m going to make room for the 9th Ward gumbo.
My last meal at Melba’s was on Dec. 19, 2019, and at my table I took a picture of my usual bountiful choices served in a to-go tray.
Melba’s is one of my favorite places in New Orleans, not only for the tasty food but also for its Lunch & Literacy initiative, a program the restaurant’s owners, husband and wife Scott and Jane Wolfe, established in recent years.
Here’s a Melba’s Facebook post I enjoyed seeing on Nov. 27:
I used my Amazon gift card, one Patty gave to me for my birthday on Nov. 20, for my copy of “Greenlights,” and though it remains on my long list of unread books, I intend to read it soon.
Perhaps one day, I will bring it to Melba’s and read it while I’m there, paying homage to that special day the Tuesday before Thanksgiving in 2020.