This is National Library Week, and a fine excuse to remind you that I do, in fact, still read books. Even the ones that have more words than pictures.
The occasional collection of pictures does help, though. Take, for example, Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins, a memoir by actor Rupert Everett. I have a soft spot for the kind of autobiography that is demanded by almost no one but could still be appreciated by almost anyone.
As you might expect, Mr. Everett comes off as charmingly flawed, but in more than just the British sense. For a brief period (after My Best Friend's Wedding) he was a Hollywood outsider turned insider, and that perspective fueled an intriguing candor that was not just self-deprecating, but deprecating all around. Those who regretted seeing The Next Best Thing (I missed it) may be relieved to learn of its disastrous back story.
Don't read it cover to cover; you'll get mired in early childhood and boarding school blahs and whatnot. Skip around and enjoy the relentless namedropping. Or the rise and fall of the Miami celebrity scene. Or his straight phase. The guy's been everywhere.
I'd be remiss if I didn't finally get around to mentioning a pair of books that I read last fall. The first is My Life as a Furry Red Monster, in which puppeteer Kevin Clash explains how he developed and became Elmo, and the great effect it's had. The second, Brainiac, recounts the exploits of game show legend Ken Jennings, who also provides an experiential treatise on trivia.
Clash's book gets a little too inspiration-minded at times, but he is Elmo, after all, which means a lot to kids and many adults. Plus, his success story is highly unlikely and unusual; few people dream of being a puppeteer, and even fewer try to make it happen.
Jennings (who blogs here) seems relaxed for a guy who spent 75 days robbing the coffers of Jeopardy! He's unashamed of his thirst for knowledge and his competitive drive, but I really enjoyed that he can bond with others in their trivial pursuits.
Do yourselves a favor and visit your local public library. If yours is like the Las Vegas system, they're forgiving all late fines.