Even as I begin the painful process of packing my 5,000 or so books for the move (yes, we’ve sold our house and found a new one in Hadley) I keep adding to the collection. During one of our trips to the Pioneer Valley I insisted on stopping at Bookends and wound up getting Svetlana Boym‘s Common Places (“Boym studies Russian culture in a broad sense of the word; she ranges from nineteenth- and twentieth-century intellectual thought to art and popular culture”) and David Shub‘s classic biography of Lenin (sure, it’s out of date, first published in 1948 and revised in 1966, but Shub, born in 1887 in Russia, knew most of the Bolshevik leaders personally, including Lenin, Trotsky, and Bukharin, and his perspective is irreplaceable). I just finished Michael Ondaatje’s Divisadero, which my wonderful wife gave me for my birthday (we’re both Ondaatje fans). Publishers have sent me some intriguing books that I expect to report on soon. And just today I got in the mail a gift from frequent commenter Noetica, a book I’ve been dying to read ever since it came out: Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World, by Nicholas Ostler. Just looking at the list of maps and tables thrills me. So I wanted to offer my heartfelt thanks, while noting the irony of my situation: voluntarily taking on water even as I bail out the boat!