Riveting Reading

Since finishing Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets a few weeks ago, I've had nothing to read at night or on the train. It hasn't been so bad, since I've mostly been driving to work lately and using the between-book interval to catch up on all the TV shows TiVo had recorded for me.

After watching And the Band Played On on HBO and The Last of the Mohicans (for the first time, all the way through; I've seen bits and pieces before) on DVD this weekend, I added these two titles to my reading list (which already contained Seabiscuit: An American Legend, on Meg's recommendation). With an active interest in starting a new book and the prospect of at least two train commutes looming this week, I proposed a trip to Tower Books, which is within walking distance of our house and open until midnight 365 days a year.

On the "featured" table near the entrance I found the Seabiscuit book in trade paperback (feels like a hardback, but convenient for toting around) for 30% off, and immediately picked it up. Above it was another title for 30% off, one that was also heralded as a New York Times bestseller: Nickel and Dimed. It looked like fairly easy and interesting reading, so I bought that too.

I opted to read Nickel and Dimed first, and devoured about 70 pages between the end of Law & Order: Criminal Intent and falling asleep. I read several passages out loud to Al along the way, and got into a hysterical laughing fit over the phrase "citrus fart". I brought the book with me on the train this morning, and read from the time I reached the platform from the time I... well, I was going to say, "set foot in my office building," but to be honest, I've been sneakily reading while mail downloads and the product builds. Fascinating stuff.

I took a detour on the walk from the train to stop at the Starbucks in San Carlos, and the guy who took my order noticed the book in my hand. "Great book," he said. "Yeah, I'm finding it really interesting," I replied. "What's that?" asked the girl (yay!) behind the espresso machine. "Nickel and Dimed," the guy informed her. "Yeah, I read that," said the girl. I turned back to the guy. "You know, I was reading passages out loud to my husband last night, and his question was, 'why didn't she ever apply at Starbucks?'" "She still would have needed two jobs," he said.

I called Al to relate the conversation, and his point wasn't that Starbucks would pay better, but that the working conditions would be better, or at least less menial and depressing than working at Denny's or Merry Maids. Maybe I'll stop at the Starbucks again tomorrow and continue the conversation with the chap who took my order. Or perhaps Al and I can find out for ourselves someday: We keep talking about chucking it all and going to work at Starbucks...

Posted by Lori in books at 12:51 PM on April 7, 2003