Lily Tomlin once said, “I always wanted to be someone, but now I realize I should have been more specific.” I know the feeling. Nearly ten years have passed since writer Susan Stoner and I began the book talk show, Just Read It. I had dreams of becoming the next Bill Moyers. How far did I get? I can honestly say I can walk into a library anywhere in the world and no one will know my name.
Emily Dickenson got it wrong. Being a nobody is rougher than she’d have us believe. I’d welcome the attention of a bog. So far, my role as a book show host can be summed up with the opening lines of Walter da la Mare’s The Listeners. “Is there anybody there?”
I’m not complaining about my invisibility, mind you. I prefer it to the life of a librarian. These days, too many folks have developed a passion for book burning. Snooze among the stacks in a dark corner of a library, and you may wake to find yourself on fire.
Like Tomlin, though I’ve failed to be specific about my goals, I’m certain I won’t be spared from life’s vagaries. Oprah has yet to call for a chat, but in May Just Read It turns 10. That’s worth celebrating.
To those who have watched the program or appeared as guests, I raise my glass. To the best-selling authors who also came, I offer a courtesy. Famous or infamous, each of you has offered insights profitable to others. And, all of you have been a joy to know.
About the downside of the experience, I pause to mourn the death of Jason Reynolds late last year. He was the program’s first guest, a witty, brilliant fellow. He suggested we begin our series with Adam Johnson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Orphan Master’s Son. None of us could recommend the book, as it turned out. After filming, Susan and I pinched him for his suggestion. Always a good sport, he endured his torment with a smile.
Thank you for making us laugh, Jason. We will miss you.
2022 will bring new faces to Just Read It s well as return guests. Best-selling author Phillip Margolin will join us for a one-on-one interview, also. This year he publishes two books. The Darkest Place releases March 29. In November, he offers us a lighter mystery set in England. Stay tuned for the interview date.
Again, my thanks to all who have brushed shoulders with Just Read It. You are my inspiration. Suggestions to improve the program are welcome, by the way.