Books About Books

There's been a lot of discussion recently about the act of reading--how many books are being purchased and read, and how the transmission of text affects the experience of reading. And there seems to be more information about books and reading, with so many websites and blogs devoted to the discussion. We welcome to that the current abundance of books about books.

Last year, we enjoyed Nina Sankovitch's memoir, Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading (now out in paper). Three years after her older sister died, Sankovitch, still deeply grieving, decided to read one book a day for a year. She and her sister loved books, and the author thought of using books as a way not to escape from life, but to escape into life. Her eclectic reading list and unalloyed delight in reading are catnip for booklovers.

In a similar vein, Will Schwalbe has written The End of Your Life Book Club (our review is below) about the joy and tenderness he and his mother shared while sharing books, as she was treated for fatal pancreatic cancer. Later this month, Joe Queenan's memoir One for the Books will be published (October 25). The famously sarcastic writer loves reading books, buying books at bookstores, checking out books from libraries. Along with his trademark sharp prose, he includes a bushel of his favorite titles.

November 13 brings My Ideal Bookshelf, edited by Thessaly La Force, illustrated by Jane Mount. LaForce asked authors and other celebrities what titles they would choose if they had to fill a short shelf with books that represented them. Michael Chabon, Tony Hawk, Alice Waters, James Franco--it's a potpourri of readers, titles, essays and delightful colorful drawings.

This is just the beginning--there are, happily, more books about books to come. --Marilyn Dahl, book review editor, Shelf Awareness

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