The Hughsletter #102 – Sneaking Books

Good Morning!

As I am sitting here in a quiet house, drinking coffee and typing this out at 6AM on Monday morning, my cat Puss is across the room from me, sleeping. Apparently, she is having a dream, because she keeps twitching her ears and her nose, and periodically makes a sort of growl noise – all while sound asleep.

I like to think she is dreaming she is a tiger, stalking something on the African savanna. But since her feet have never once touched grass, she probably isn’t.

My favorite time of day is the early morning, in a quiet house, drinking coffee and dreaming about the day.

Here are five things I thought were beautiful:

  • Most artists have a sketchbook, but this one is a work of art all by itself.
  • The Guardian published a collection of Steve McCurry’s photos from Afghanistan, taken from 1979 to 2016. Those eyes, y’all.
  • This is a collection of photos from the exhibition called Cathedral of the Pines. There are a few in the collection that are (tastefully) NSFW. They are also breathtaking – in the true sense of the word. They are stark and so… ordinary – like Vermeer’s paintings of ordinary people doing ordinary things. I love them. (Here is an interview with the artist)
  • This is a lovely essay in the Atlantic, published in 1922 by a minister, who details his strategies and techniques to sneak more books in the house amid the protestations of his wife. This one hits a little close to home. 🙂
  • This short (6 minutes) film, Ghosts of the Arctic, about the search for polar bears by a photography team is just straight-up beautiful.


I mentioned last week that I had brought home a haul from the used bookstore – one of my treasures was a collection of essays by mystery writers paying tribute to Robert B. Parker, who created the character Spenser and probably singlehandedly saved the mystery novel in the 1970’s. I know he saved me.

When I was 16, I was a mess. I didn’t like who I was, and didn’t know who I could be. I wasn’t comfortable in my skin, didn’t credit my own opinions and thoughts my ideas worthless. Then I met Spenser. I loved every book that involved him (some were better than others, but after 40 books, you expect that) and, if it doesn’t seem too weird to say about a fictional character, admired him.

Spenser had a code of sorts. He was fiercely independent. He loved art and literature, but also loved Dunkin’ Donuts. He actually thought about things like how to be a good man. He fought to be autonomous, to not need the validation of others. In other words, he was the role model 16 year old me needed. And after that, I thrived.

My favorite book of Parker’s was Early Autumn. His longest, most mainstream book is A Catskill Eagle.

All of them are worth reading.

Take care of yourself, and each other.

Hugh Hollowell
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