Normally we lie about books boasting about those we've read when we haven't, but I have to confess about a little white lie earlier about not bringing any books with me to America.
I meant it at the time, but at the last minute I just couldn't do it. I pushed a collection of Lydia Davis's wonderfully anarchic stories into my case at home, and then at the airport, surrendered to David Sedaris's new book. (I shouldn't have done. I was bored with it after the first page and ended up leaving it behind.)
However, at Minneapolis I'm more than making up for any lack - Anne Carson, Amy Bloom, Rebecca Solnit etc etc etc. I know you can buy a lot of these authors in the UK, but I LOVE the feel and look of American books. There are some great bookshops here. (I'd like to show some photographs but my camera's broken - in one secondhand shop, I thought there was no one working there until I turned round one back shelf and found a man lying on a day bed, reading. He lazily waved a hand at me, and I thought, oh yay, Oscar Wilde lives. Later I asked him if he knew of a bank near here and he said he had no idea as he had never had much time for banks. Perfect. I'm imagining a velvet purse full of gold coins.) Anyway, I've packed my suitcase full of books and magazines and am now struggling to choose ones to read on the plane. I want to keep all of them close.
Perhaps best of all though are the literary and psychology magazines - Paris Review, Harpers, American Scientific Mind, Poets and Writers. I couldn't even wait until I was out of the shop to start reading, but had to go to the cafe to start flicking through them. I was in good company. At the next table there was a group of women in their twenties I started talking to. They each had a HUGE pile of magazines in front of them, and it turned out they were the Lazy Girls Magazine Club - Minneapolis Chapter. They meet once a month in the cafe, take a huge pile of magazines off the shelves and just read through them, sharing articles they find interesting. I like the cheek of it but I'm also a bit shocked - one of the joys of buying magazines for me is being the first person to read it, the sharpness of turning each page. And I know I couldn't resist my normal magazine reading habit which is tearing out the pages I find interesting or know I will want to read again.
Mind you, I tried this with Poets and Writers but ended up tearing the whole magazine out. Hmm. I think it's time to splash out on a subscription. At least I'd bought my own copy!