How I love that first new book of 2014!

For some people, the new year arrives when the ball drops in Times Square. But for this devoted book lover, it's not 2014 till that first copyright page says so.

'Why I Read' by Wendy Lesser is this bibliophile's first 2014 book choice.

For book lovers, the arrival of a new year expresses itself not only in the fresh calendars we place on our walls, or the champagne we pop on Jan. 1, or the resolutions we make with everyone else, but in something subtler – a little thing we notice each time we crack open a newly published title.

It’s right there, on the copyright page – the evidence that one year has receded into the rearview mirror so that another year can take its place. I’m talking about the copyright date itself. At some point, whether it’s today or next week or next month, we’re going to open our first new book of the new year and notice that the copyright now reads “2014.” It’s the proud mark of a work of fiction or memoir or poetry that is, certifiably, brand spanking new, never published before.

That date on the copyright page always takes some getting used to. The new number of the new year seems odd, and it has yet to work its way into our familiar universe. We’ll need to break in 2014 as we do any year, by writing it repeatedly on bank checks and official forms, or by seeing it every day at the top of the newspaper.

I have, in my lap, my first new book of 2014 – “Why I Read: The Serious Pleasure of Books,” by Wendy Lesser. The official date of publication in Jan. 7, and seeing “ 2014” typed on the copyright page is, for me, as eventful change in my reading life as watching the ball drop in Times Square. It signals for me that I’ve passed another 12 months among books, and am preparing to keep company with literature for another 12 more.

And what also strikes me, as it does every year, is how suddenly dated all the books now seem that bear the copyright date of 2013. Right here on my nightstand is a copy of “The Boy Detective,” the marvelous memoir by Roger Rosenblatt published just a few weeks ago. Although the book isn’t meaningfully older than Lesser’s new one, the Rosenblatt title now appears, with last year’s date, somehow indelibly planted in the past.

But underlying these tricks of the mind is a deeper, more comforting truth. I know that truly good books – and I count Rosenblatt's memoir in that number – have no expiration date, regardless of the year stamped on their copyright page. They’re always new, transcending the turn of time, which is why we read them in the first place.

Danny Heitman, a columnist for The Advocate newspaper in Louisiana, is the author of “A Summer of Birds: John James Audubon at Oakley House.”        

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

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

QR Code to How I love that first new book of 2014!
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today