'One for the Books': 5 stories from Joe Queenan's exploration of his life as a reader

Writer Joe Queenan, a voracious reader, looks back on his life as a bibliophile in his new book 'One for the Books.' Here are five of his stories.

5. The cover effect

Queenan had trouble re-reading "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" when he disliked a movie tie-in cover that adorned the front. He finally realized that many of the books he owned that he had been avoiding reading had covers he found ugly. "Elated that I had finally solved this mystery, I raced out and bought a copy of 'Huckleberry Finn' with a passable cover," he wrote. "I loved it! I did the same with 'Nicholas Nickleby.' Fantastic! I then moved on to Dr. Faustus, a book I had tried to plow through a half-dozen times. No problem! That only left one more magic mountain to climb. I raced off to the library, checked out a copy of 'Death of a Salesman' that came with perfectly inoffensive packing, and retreated to my bed for a nice, long read. I hated every word of it. So much for that theory."

5 of 5

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.