Thursday, September 29, 2016

Incidental Reading

At the last or second last meeting of the neighborhood book club, a neighbor and friend gave back to me a copy of Peter Schneider's The German Comedy: Scenes of Life After the Wall. I had forgotten not only that I had lent it to her, but also that I had ever owned a copy, and indeed that there was such a book. At the moment, it seemed to me that I must have read one of the essays included when it appeared in The New York Times Sunday Magazine; I find that it must have been "The Deep-Freeze Theory and Other Hypotheses".

Last night, being too tired to read the book I had in mind, I picked up The German Comedy, and shortly found that I had certainly read it; most of the essays were familiar. And I found reading matter that I hadn't known the volume comprised, not Schneider's: receipts from a vacation that we took in the fall of 2013. I don't know how they got there. I'm fairly confident that I didn't take the book along to the eastern Baltic.

I am always interested to read matter left in books, though I hope I would have the strength not to read matter left by someone I knew. There would have been nothing of much interest between the pages of The German Comedy, just receipts from restaurants, shops, and bars. None of it, I think, would have held any surprises for an observant person who had sat across many dinner tables from us over the years. And really, I don't think our neighbor read it, though I may ask at the next book club meeting. Still, the next book that I lend, I'll look into first.

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