There’s Rita on your left, sitting in my favorite chair at Booktowne in Manasquan, where I may as well be high in the Himalayas immersed in anything on the printed page. No Nooks just books, not that I disdain Kindles or eReaders. It’s merely that I still prefer the unique feel and look of various books. Take for example More Than This by Patrick Ness.
Or … A House in the Sky, co-authored by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett.
Yet neither of those fine books were among the ones I settled in or on last Friday afternoon. I tend to be captured by novelty, gravitating toward newer books and sources, but it was a book published in 2011 that caught my fancy that day. Most of Rita’s collection is as I would have it: current books, though I’m not quite sure how she decides to hold on to titles pre-current year. Her turnover isn’t as rapid as B&N, which moves titles around almost as fast as movies come and go from theaters. Perhaps I’ll ask her next time, but I’m glad she held on to Eduardo Porter’s The Price of Everything.
It was on page sixty of Porter’s masterpiece that I learned of a speech made my Robert Kennedy in 1968, three months before he was assassinated, in which he delivered a scathing critique about worshiping the GNP:
“Yet the Gross National Product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”
Porter informs on page sixty-one that the tiny Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, high in the Himalayas, developed the dream envisioned by Robert Kennedy – that of GNH, or Gross National Happiness.
Too idyllic for your tastes? Perhaps. If so, you can always come in and spend some time in one of Rita’s chairs, transporting your mind to the Himalayas. She’s got an extra one in case you’d like to join me.