My friendly neighbourhood library

I have been thinking about buying a new lens for my camera, which in some ways is a little bit of an overwhelming process. These purchases are expensive and I want to make sure that I get it right so I have turned to my friendly neighbourhood library to educate me.

Some of the books were really old and talked about lenses that might be good if digital photography became a thing — the joy of libraries is that these books from the ’80s are funny and free. There are also a number of really good photography books that I’ve gotten my hands on.

One of my other kicks has been the Best American series, which collects journalism from a given year of a particular kind together — Best American Sports Writing 2010, Best American Music Writing 2009, etc. These books are generally delightful and it is nice to know that whatever comes next it will be well written and enjoyable.

In the Sports Writing and Music Writing collections writing about a wide variety of topics is collected and is united by the common denominator of excellence. There are many things and topics that one normally wouldn’t be exposed to.These books lend themselves to writing features and profiles rather than reporting about sports scores and releases of tour dates.

The Best American Political Writing of 2009 strays from this winning formula a little. It still collects writing by the best in the business but the content is lacking. Nothing comes out of left field or is about originality of the idea. It feels more like a year book of Obama’s election and the financial crisis. Where the other books collect a wide variety of content Political Writing 2009 focuses solely on national politics. There is little room for foreign policy or local politics.

The introductions before each article are unnecessary and annoying. These articles are very self-explanatory. If one has a decent knowledge of politics — Palin was McCain’s running mate will do — then they can follow along with the writing and don’t need to have the editor hold their hand along the way.

Political Writing 2009 is organized in sections by topic, which is as unnecessary as explaining that Obama won the election and reflects the lack of depth in the content contained in the volume.

Overall the writing is good but it feels like you know the ending because really you do. The selected writing tells you what happened very well and in some articles with an incredible amount of sources and access. It’s too bad that so much domestic and national politics was included. The topic is broad as is the journalism being produced and published in the US.


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