Book nerd that I am, it wasn't until a few years ago that I became aware of St. George's Day. Celebrated on April 23rd, St. George's Day is known in Catalan as La Diada de Sant Jordi and it is traditional, on this day, to gift a loved one with a book and a rose. This day has since been declared International Day of the Book, since St. George's Day also coincides with the dates of death for both William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes.
For the past 3 years, BookPeople has celebrated St. George's Day by laying out a table of staff recommendations from various booksellers. These are old favorites that have inexplicably sold less than five copies in the previous year.
I was stunned to discover that Philip Roth's The Plot Against America was on this year's list of candidates. Whether you're a fan of Roth's work or not, this should be on anyone's list of must reads. Roth readers will discover what I consider to be Roth's best work. Those who haven't read Roth, for one reason or another, should take Plot Against America as a reason to begin.
The plot of The Plot involves fiction jumping off of fact. First, the facts; famed aviator and explorer Charles Lindbergh was involved in politics and considered a run for the Presidency in 1940. Lindbergh took an isolationist approach to WWII and gave speeches that featured anti-semitic rhetoric. Roth imagines an America in which Charles Lindbergh runs against and defeats Franklin Roosevelt for the Presidential election of 1940. He imagines the America we would be today.
The New York Times review described the book as "a terrific political novel" as well as "sinister, vivid, dreamlike, preposterous and, at the same time, creepily plausible."
If you haven't read The Plot Against America, you should drop by BookPeople and pick one up. If you have read it, you should come pick one up and give it to a friend in honor of St. George's Day. And if The Plot Against America doesn't sound like your thing or something any of your circle would enjoy, you should still come check out our display and grab something off the table.
Whether your tastes run the way of Gail Caldwell, Richard Russo, or Kurt Vonnegut; we have something for you. If you like war memoirs like If I Die In A Combat Zone, horror classics like Frankenstein, the philosophy of Walden, or the pulp adventures featured in The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane; you can find them all there. I have read and can recommend all of them. And there are even more staff favorites that I haven't read, but that others can recommend.
Come by the store, come by the table, pick up a book, and celebrate St. George. Buy The Plot Against America. And, if you don't, buy something. These books are too good to miss. This celebration is too good an excuse. It's Valentine's Day for the literate. Give a book you love to someone you love. Or a book you hate to someone you hate. Either way, what a day.