Race by Studs TerkelBack when I was in college, I worked for a writing center on campus. One of the rooms that we used for conferences had an entire wall that was covered by a bookshelf with titles on it that I never pulled out to read. I did scan over the titles, though, and the book Race stuck out at me simply because the authors name was Studs Terkel and in the mind of an 18 year old, that seemed kinda funny to me.

As you can probably tell if you’ve looked at this site any in the past two years, I have obviously become a huge fan of Mr. Terkel. To date, I’ve read five of his books and plan on reading everything he’s compiled at some point in the future. As I’ve mentioned in the past, he’s one of the best distillers of perceptions and language that I’ve ever read. His books have numerous, numerous instances of “normal” everyday people who say some of the most profound, beautiful, and meaningful things that I’ve read in the past five years.

I’m a person who likes good documentary films, and that’s usually because of the people and the personalities portrayed. One of the best things I can say about the books (especially Race) of Terkel is that when you’re reading them, you feel like you’re sitting in the middle of an outstanding documentary film. He guides you through different passages with skill and ease, and even in short interviews of a couple pages, he manages to paint vivid pictures of the lives and people he’s interviewing.

If it seems like I’m gushing, I am. As far as I’m concerned, Studs Terkel is a bit of a national treasure at this point. If you haven’t read any of his books, pick one up and get lost in it. If you’ve read his work and you know of other authors or collections of oral history style writings that you think I might enjoy, let me know.