Thoughts inspired by Kim Kardashian’s, um, assets

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I have a bunch of books — say 1,500 — in my office at home, and in an attempt to ease their retrieval, I try to organize them by category. Thus three shelves of books on presidents, a shelf of Chicago history, a shelf of Dante, a shelf and a half — 41 books — by and about humorist James Thurber.

And one shelf of what I think of as queer books, in the former, “odd” sense of the word, since it holds “Queer Books” by Edmund Pearson as well as “Bizarre Books” by Russell Ash and Brian Lake, and then books that showed up at the paper and I had to snag because I knew I would never see them again, such as “Handwriting in America: A Cultural History” by Tamara Plakins Thornton and “Dust: A History of the Small & the Invisible” by Joseph A. Amato.


Here, too, the books group together, forming a kind of spectrum: “Dust” shelved next to “Rubble,’ which is about demolition, next to “Buried Alive: The Terrifying History of our Most Primal Fear.” Bernard Mergen’s “Snow in America,” is next to “Ice: The Nature, the History and the Uses of an Astonishing Substance” by Mariana Gosnell.

Then a range of body parts. “The Nose,” several cultural histories of breasts, one of the vagina (next to “Flow,” about menstruation), the penis (next to “Castration,” which I haven’t yet found courage to open) and the book I pulled down Friday — easily, without searching, I noted — “The Rear View: A Brief and Elegant History of Bottoms Through the Ages,” by Jean-Luc Hennig, a new chapter of which was written last week when a photo of the huge, oiled, naked rump of Kim Kardashian roiled the Internet.


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