Lives of their own

Books have lives, and stuff happens to them that you never planned. — Amity Schlaes

The life of Amity Schlaes’ 2007 book The Forgotten Man has become very interesting lately. According to a Politico article, the book has become a bit of a hot ticket because of its critical stance on the New Deal. The article quotes a Washington, DC, bookseller: “If all my books sold that well, I’d be a rich man.” That’s sweet music to an author’s ears.

The author herself seems to have a healthy sense of detachment from her work, boundaries she diplomatically articulates in the article.  She deflects effusive praise by emphasizing her reasoning and approach when writing the book. (Great PR lesson there, fellow writers — redirect attention to the book.) While clearly pleased by the attention the book is getting, she distances herself from any uses to which its words may be put. Using a quote or idea from a book to support an argument does not equate to an endorsement of that argument by the book’s author, a subtle point of reason that is too often overlooked in the current age of sound bites.

May we all enjoy such good fortune as to have our books become the darling of some highly visible demographic, and may we all be blessed with such a sense of calm perspective as Ms. Schlaes!


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