Every year, my friend Ben DuPont and his colleagues gather fifty or sixty interesting people in a room for what they call the Non-Obvious Dinner. Participants eat for free, but there’s a catch: everyone has to bring along — and be prepared to defend — a prediction of something significant that they expect to happen within the next ten years. And that prediction can’t be something we can all see coming from miles away.

Very recently I learned that one of my favorite Mary Gaitskill stories, “The Nice Restaurant”, has never been collected. I still have the issue of the New Yorker it appeared in, and while I do own Mary Gaitskill’s work, it had never occurred to me she wouldn’t have collected it yet until a friend mentioned it in passing on Twitter and I was reminded, again, why for at least 20 years now, I save stories from magazines.

If you’re reading this, you probably care about books and you’re likely to care passionately.  Books will do that to a person.

Not just books, of course.  Movies and paintings and music will stir passions, as well, and for similar reasons: because, when they rise to the level of art, they evoke empathy.  Which is to say, they connect us to the world in a way we hadn’t been connected before we experienced them.

Lately I find myself pronouncing a lot on the state of book publishing, an industry that, to my astonishment, I’ve been following for more than 25 years.

When he isn’t greeting people or performing other duties, one of the doormen in our Manhattan apartment building often sits at the front desk with a well-worn book open to a familiar page.  I presume it’s a familiar page because it’s always the same book, always the Christian Bible.