A reader of the previous newsletter (hello, @RidgewoodJoe!) pointed out that copies of one of the recommended books, “Dupe” by Liza Cody, are now $50 on eBay. It was a curious development. A few weeks earlier, I had purchased my own copy on eBay for $19.90, which isn’t cheap for a used book, but it isn’t $50! I had to wonder if the recommendation led to an eBay price hike. It was not my intention.
A sinister thought came to me then. “If I was an unsavory person, I could make a chunk of dough recommending old books, then turning around and selling copies on eBay for extortionate prices under a fake username.” Do not worry; I’m not evil and I don’t want to get fired from my job for executing an easily traceable pump and dump plan. (Not YET, at least.)
But @RidgewoodJoe brought up a valuable point. One problem with recommending “hidden gems” is that they can be… hard to find. My hope is that these books can be unearthed in libraries, where gems often lie in the dust. A second hope is that a savvy publisher can take note of these titles and act quickly to republish the book in question. (It happened once before, and it was very exciting!) A third option would be to put that $50 book on your watch list and wait for the market to cool down.
I wish I could design a system where my own copy of each book, with the self-incriminating marginalia, could be sent free of charge to the first person who comments with a request. But I live a mile from the nearest post office, and as much as I cherish this institution, my patience to wait in line for 90 minutes is nearing an all-time low.
All that to say, if anyone has any ideas for making out-of-print books more widely accessible: I’m all ears. In the meantime, I’ll try to stick to books that won’t destroy your wallet.
“Winter Love,” by Han Suyin
This rec is for all my lesbian zoologists. Make some noise ladies! Before the rest of you move on, I should quickly offer myself as proof that you don’t need to fit the description above to savor this silvery, suggestive news of love and friendship.
It’s 1944, the place is London and all the young men are at war. We find ourselves at Horsham Science College with a group of women who spend their time dissecting mammals and navigating between material deprivation (bombs go off, pipes freeze) and emotional detonations (business breaks, tsummer–a–heads).
It’s a darkly cinematic book, full of neglected gardens and smoky cafes. The author, a doctor of Chinese and Belgian origin, rose to fame after publishing “A Many-Splendored Thing”, which was adapted into William Holden’s film. But I think this short story, which she wrote 10 years after her mega hit, is much better!
Read if you like: Sally Rooney, EM Forster, the film “Carol” by Todd Haynes
Available from: McNally Editions
“Aggressive Selling” by Evan Hughes
“Another book on the opioid epidemic? You’ve got the wrong tree, ma’am, I’ve got plenty already!” you might say. “I even have podcasts and a television show starring Michael Keaton. You heard me, Michael Keaton. What makes this so special? »
I will tell you. Journalist Evan Hughes chose an unknown corner of the crisis for his contribution. Rather than focusing on the machinations of Big Pharma, it focuses on a start-up called Insys Therapeutics, which has developed and marketed a fentanyl spray for cancer patients but “somehow” got into the hands of patients with, for example, moderate back pain.
“The Hard Sell” asks (and answers) the question of how it happened. Part of the answer lies in organizational charts. Hughes shows how Insys built a bureaucratic system that allowed every component of the company to blame someone else for wrongdoing, in an endless ouroboros of shifting blame: sales reps blamed managers, managers executives blamed executives, executives blamed sales reps and doctors, doctors blamed sales reps, everyone blamed the FDA and so on.
Read if you like: Michael Lewis, proceedings, Michael Mann’s film “The Insider”, Jane Mayer
Available from: Random penguin house
Why not you…
Step into Joshua Cohen’s ‘The Netanyahus’ if you prefer PHILIPPE ROTH novel is “The Ghost Writer”?
Try this short, heartbreaking page-turner if you secretly enjoy the feeling of being BEATEN IN A DISCARGUATION by someone smarter than you?
Learn to SKIN OF A SNAKE?
Subscribe to Read Like the Wind
Dive Deeper into Books at The New York Times
See previous editions of Read Like the Wind
Friendly reminder: check the books at your local library! Many libraries allow you to reserve copies online. Send your comments on the newsletter to RLTW@nytimes.com