Saturday, February 02, 2013
Dave Barry: By the Book
The author of “Insane City” spent his childhood reading “Richie Rich,” “Archie” and “Batman” comics: “pretty much anything unlikely to inspire intellectual development.”
Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals.” I’m probably the last person on the planet to read it; I loved the movie “Lincoln” and wanted more. I am awed by the amount of research that went into that book. Most of my research consists of brief Google forays in search of factoids that I can distort beyond recognition.
When and where do you like to read?
I like to read at the beach, but the beach always turns out to be too relaxing, and I fall asleep after two pages. So I wind up doing most of my actual reading at night in bed, where I sometimes get through as many as three pages before I fall asleep.
Who are your favorite authors?
Robert Benchley and P. G. Wodehouse. Also (it goes without saying) Proust.
What’s your preferred literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?
I like nonfiction, mostly history. My guilty pleasure is tough-guy-loner action novels, like the Jack Reacher series, where the protagonist is an outwardly rugged but inwardly sensitive and thoughtful guy who, through no fault of his own, keeps having to beat the crap out of people.
If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?
“The Brothers Karamazov,” by Dostoyevsky. I was required to read this book in English class during my freshman year at Haverford College, but I never finished it. I seriously doubt that Dostoyevsky ever finished it. So I figure if the president read it, he could tell me what happens.
Paper or electronic?
Definitely paper. I say this because we authors get smaller royalties on e-book sales. So I’d like to start a rumor that electronic books cause fatal diseases and sometimes explode. This must be true, because it’s printed right here in The New York Times.