I love facts. They are malleable enough to be the stuff of never-ending arguments. (How many changed ingredients make a new recipe?) And circumstances change. ( Is the Aral Sea still one of the four largest bodies of water?) I am one with Roseledge Book readers in a lifetime of learning ever more about these changeable facts and the decisions and their aftermaths that follow. So it is with pleasure, but little surprise that I find these RB readers might also make good Supreme Court Justices. Retired Justice David Souter might agree.
Facts are arbitrary puppies. They can be used to support both this and that as any two people looking at an old class picture or the Freakonomics guys* demonstrate. Even deciding what is a fact is tricky. Remember the Swift Boat Veterans’ factless assertions** that too many believed? A professor chided me for over-documenting a paper by noting that July 4 did not need a citation to support it’s being a holiday if three people agreed to the “fact.” I was showing off my reference librarian skills at the time and thought he was being naïve. I still think so and loved reading former Justice Souter‘s comments about the changeable meaning of facts. “The meaning of facts arises [outside the law] and its judicial perception turns on the experience of judges and on their ability to think from a point of view other than their own.”
Readers know about points of view other than their own. This makes them, and Supreme Court Justices, better decision makers than non-readers. And, from my Roseledge Books’ perspective, nothing leads to learning about facts, thoughts, and decisions of others better than books. So Roseledge Books has a purpose and readers rule.
Now the joy is turning these varied points of view into book choices for Roseledge Books readers. Biographies are easiest: just find two authors writing about the same person and then tie that person to RB. I have Edmund Morris’s The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, and, good news, Douglas Brinkley’s The Wilderness Warrior is out in paperback. The RB tie is through my late neighbor Harry‘s boyhood memory of talking to his aunt‘s neighbor who was or was not Theodore Roosevelt. And, of course, I am North Dakotan. Fiction is trickier because a novel’s points of view may be several, but the underlying one is often subtle and important. I’m ordering Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall; I’ll be sure to have another view of Cromwell. As I write this, the tie to RB is elusive. Suggestions?
It’s big order time. Choosing multiple points of view is an interesting target. How many Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, or Icelandic detective novels does RB need to fairly represent the Arctic world? I know Finns are technically not Scandinavian. Are Icelanders? How many and which books about WWII or whaling or privacy or Irish here before Vikings or (your topic here) does RB need to support good conversations on a rainy summer night?
RAIN big time today. Lights were out once already, but only for a morning half-hour when daylight sufficed. Coffee went cool, though. Fog at treetop level across the harbor. I don’t know what it means, but I like it. Check the webcam to check my fact! (With this weather, I might be wrong in minutes. How could that be?)
* Levitt, Steven and Stephen Dubner. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the `Hidden Side of Everything.
** Manjoo, Farhad. True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.