The reading life: In praise of the Levenger Catalog
While we were away this weekend I read How to Read a Book, an article written by a Ruth Franklin, who the NYTimes says is a senior editor at The New Republic. The article, as it turns out, is a review of a book titled The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life which was written by Steve Leveen, Levenger‘s chief executive, and a man after my own heart.
Mr. Leveen manages to combine two of my passions: reading and gadgets.
Ms Franklin, however, is lost to both reading or gadgets, so of course she despairs of Mr. Leveen’s entrepeneurial effort in publishing a book promoting books, reading, gadgets, and his own company. Ms Franklin, obviously not an entrepeneur, can’t seem to realize that the self-employed might, maybe might, need to plan their reading so they don’t waste the few precious moments they can spare to a book.
Life is short, and free time is even shorter, particularly for an entrepeneur. Mr Leveen explains his method to coming up with prospective reads, and it works for him. I read an average of a book a week (this week’s book is Mario Vargas Llosa’s La tentación de lo imposible) and I keep a short list of prospective reads in my Levenger-purchased matchbook notebook. I write down my list with a Waterman fountain pen, and read it with my glasses which I keep (when not on my nose) in a Levenger case (no longer at the website) that holds two pens and a pair of eyeglasses, and has a small pocket for business cards on one side where I keep eyeglass cleaning cloths. Years ago I purchased a small canvas organizer that looks like an LL Bean tote but came stocked with Levenger erasers, paper clips, highlighter, note paper, book bungee and post-it notes — I still use it constantly.
Yes, I consume books and Levenger products with pride.
While desparing of Mr Leveen’s “consumerist approach to books”, and that his “is a life organized around books, not energized by them”, she did manage to insert yet another dig at George W. Bush’s intellect. What does GWB’s taste in reading (does the POTUS actually have time to read for fun??) have to do with Levenger or anything much else, I sure don’t know.
Ms Franklin apparently has never read a book in its setting, and she asks,
We’ve probably all fantasized about reading our favorite writers in their own settings: Emily Brontë as we wander the moors, for instance. But what, other than a frisson of recognition, is really to be gained from such an exercise?
I can only suggest she try. I can’t explain it; it has to be experienced. Here’s a short list for starters:
- Location: Bath, England. Book: Persuasion, by Jane Austen.
- Location: Vicksburg, Mississippi. Book: The Beleaguered City, by Shelby Foote
- Location: Trinidad, Virgin Islands. Book: A House for Mr. Biswas, by V. S. Naipaul.
- Location: Ponce, Puerto Rico. Book: Los papeles de Pandora, by Rosario Ferré
- and last, but definitely not least, Location: Canterbury Cathedral, Canterbury, England. Book: A History of the English Speaking People, by Winston Churchill, specifically volume one, book two, chapter 12: Henry Plantagenet. You got to try reading that one on the very spot of the murder.
I guarantee you’ll be getting more than just a mere “frisson of recognition”. And, of course, you’ll have to carry your books in a Levenger book caboose.
(technorati tag: books)