It’s a luxury to be able to take an occasional trip, and one of its many pleasures is in an airport bookstore purchase. I did that recently when I picked up a copy of Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens.
Buying an airport book is not easy for me. I’ve always been suspicious of books that have raised, gold lettering on the cover. And I don’t easily gravitate toward fiction since–when I’m reading fiction– it’s hard for me to forget that it’s the product of someone pretty much making things up. (I say that in spite of arguments that fiction can be the greatest vehicle for truth and that no genre contains more fiction than autobiography!)
Arguably is a big book and not cheap, 750 pages at $30. But two things appealed to me about it when I paged through it: first was the range of topics–from women and humor to an airplane ride Hitchens took with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and Sean Penn. The second was the length of the essays–anywhere from two, to six or seven pages; in other words, the perfect length for someone who sometimes only has time to read in bits and snatches.
And Hitchens, regardless of what you think of him, is a great example of the benefits of a liberal arts education. Some examples later.