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When Booklist asked Pearl about the provenance of her new book, her answer struck us as the dream of every writer and book lover. "The publisher came to me," she confided, "with the idea of doing a book of recommended reading--incorporating all sorts of books, old and new, fiction and non, for all ages. They wanted it to be friendly and inviting, to sound like I was talking to people who shared my love of reading and good books and wanted some ideas of what to read next."
The publisher certainly approached the right person for the job. A practicing librarian for many years, Pearl is currently the director of the Washington Center for the Book at Seattle (WA) Public Library. Also, it was her brilliant and much-imitated idea to get all the readers in her hometown to read the same book at the same time and join discussion groups about it. The idea has spread from city to city across the country. She has written a two-volume readers'-advisory reference set titled Now Read This (1999; 2000). But her new book is more than a reference resource for librarians in their readers'-advisory work. It is also a book for personal use by library patrons, and even a book to own and keep on one's reading stand.
Pearl sees this book as a personal milestone. "It's the book that I think my whole life (and career as a librarian) has been leading toward. I basically went through my bookcases at home, where I have managed to accumulate most of my favorite books, and figured out categories they would go in." She came up with almost 200 categories, many of them not surprising, such as "Latin American Fiction," "Science gFiction, Fantasy, and Horror," "Techno-Thrillers," "Biographical Novels," and "First Novels." Other categories reflect Pearl's creative approach to linking books, and these unexpected but exciting categories include "Our Primates/Our Selves," "Historical Fiction for Kids of All Ages," "Grit Lit," "Do Clothes Make the Man (or Woman)?" and "Shrinks and Shrinkees."
One of the most interesting categories is called "Too Good to Miss." Actually, this category makes repeat appearances throughout the book, each time focusing on the work of a single author. In "Too Good to Miss," always approximately a page in length, Pearl isolates what makes a particular writer special to her and what books she would recommend. The authors receiving this special treatment include Frederick Busch, Mark Kurlansky, Eric Kraft, and Iris Murdoch. When Booklist suggested these one-author spotlights were one of the best features of the book, Pearl admitted, not surprisingly, that she loved preparing them. "I tried to include authors who I felt might be underappreciated . . . as well as those who might be less well known. Doing them gave me the chance to talk a bit about what makes these writers so good, which was a fine exercise for me as a reader and book reviewer." She expresses the regret that "I wish now that I had done more of them." So will her readers.
Of course, in preparing a book like this, which is all about recommending books on all kinds of subjects to open and eager readers, Booklist wondered if Pearl worried more about leaving out a number of books and authors than figuring out which ones to include. Pearl concurred: "The worst--most painful--part was having to bring the project to a halt. I still wake up in the middle of the night in a panic, realizing that I left out [certain] authors and books." That would seem to be an inevitable part of the selection process. Pearl had the last word on the subject: "I have to say, having done the indexing myself, that most of my favorite books are here. Except, of course, for the new books that come out after the book was done. I might have to do another book to include those!" We look forward to the sequel, then. Brad Hooper
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I read a lot, and this has suggested many books I've never heard of which sound very interesting. What the author says about books I've already read seems quite on target, so I... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Cochise
I really enjoy all of Nancy Pearl's Book Lust books. In this volume, you will find many great recommendations for wonderful books. I look forward to reading more in this series.Published 10 months ago by Paula H
Nancy Pearl is a librarian who reads widely and in her book "Book Lust" suggests books in 175 clever topic lists for us to consider reading. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Terra Hangen
I bought this, along with More Book Lust. I like the categories and there are some good suggestions. Read morePublished 20 months ago by jlu
I simply can't have enough books around...if I'm reading one, I need a pile of ten more (or twenty) just waiting to be read. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Missouri Mom
Overall, this is a great product, due to its nice flow. I would recommend this book to everyone looking for a great book recommended from the NPR Reading List.Published 23 months ago by Amazon Customer
I'm from the Seattle area...I checked this book out of the library, but felt that any self-respecting reader should have Nancy Pearl on her bookshelf. Simple as that...Published on November 8, 2013 by S. J. Dwinnell-Smith