Friday, July 22, 2011

Most treasured book

"Louise Brooks," by Barry Paris has
been published around the world
For a short while now, the San Francisco Chronicle has been running a short feature in its book review called "Special edition: Most treasured book." Earlier contributors have included novelist Isabel Allende, actor Peter Coyote, science writer Mary Roach, linguist and NPR radio commentator Geoffrey Nunberg and other luminaries mostly local to the Bay Area.

Each contributor is given approximately 100 words to talk about their most treasured book. Because of these constraints, it is a difficult assignment; what can one say in only 100 words? However, because of the very specific nature of this topic, it is also an easy assignment. This is the book we value the most, and we want to tell the world about it.

I recently had the honor of being asked to contribute. My most treasured book is Louise Brooks, by Barry Paris. First published by Knopf in hardcover 1989, it has proved to be an enduring work. Because she is something of an icon, and there have been other books both by and about this singular silent film star. This is the place to start.

Because of the 100 word limit, it was difficult for me to fully express how much this book means to me, and how it "changed my life." My contribution appeared in the print version of the newspaper on Sunday, July 10, 2011 and showed up on-line a few days later.

I hope others read this outstanding biography. It is the best book I have ever read. It is the best book I ever will read. My San Francisco Chronicle piece can be found at

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