Some words have been swept up by the force of a historical moment. Like gay, diversity is one of those words.
However, last evening, in the small reading room that contains the central portion of Crawford Doyle Booksellers (since 1991), the shop keeper, who can converse about books at length, and did with me as she pulled book after book to help me find one I'd want to take home, spoke of Martin Amis's friendship with the late Christopher Hitchens, saying something about how Mr Amis said in an interview (on Charlie Rose, I think)
a diversity of conversation.
To hear diversity in one of its former contexts was happy-making (Beth Bosworth word).
After looking around the shop and being introduced to several books, from poetry to biography to essays, I decided upon a book by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, who herself was an aviator. This was the diversity-speaker's first recommendation. I'd never heard of the book.
Its cover is one of the homeliest I've ever seen. It reminds me of a tissue box. I almost ripped it off, the way my middle school teacher ripped off the cover of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (because it showed a still from the film), but figure I'll paste a great big sticker when serendipity tosses up a suitable sticker gift.
The woman at the checkout table told me it was her mother's favorite book. Of course my mother's favorite book came to mind: Maeterlinck's The Blue Bird.
At the desk, leafing through some of the pages,
I thought of Carolyn Heilbrun's Writing a Woman's Life and also some of Vivian Gornick's prose, though clearly this wasn't those.
My concern was that it was going to be sentimental or pocked with tea-bag wisdom (the cover, the cover, the cover). One bedtime chapter in, it's not.