87 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2003
Answer: Take the advice of Nancy Pearl, librarian, reviewer and reader par excellence. Paired with Sara Nelson's So Many Books, So Little Time, you're set up with super reading for the next few years, at a minimum. These two authors approach their craft differently, however: Nelson discusses how books affect her, while Pearl is more inclined to discuss choosing a book based on her already-present mood. Together, you're covered for every eventuality.
And here's permission from an expert to do what many of us cannot give ourselves permission to do: quit reading a book after 50 pages if we're not enjoying ourselves. As hard as that is to act upon ("but surely it'll get better in another few pages..."), think about how many more books you'd have time to read if you skip the last 250 pages of every book you're really not loving.
Perhaps Nancy Pearl's most innovative and imitated accomplishment was to suggest that all the readers within a certain group (hometown, college, newspaper subscribers, PTA, etc.) read the same book and join discussion groups about it. Making this task easier is Pearl's division of her books into about 200 categories, including some unusual groupings such as "Shrinks and Shrinkees." Also invaluable to booklovers are the several "Too Good to Miss" sections in which Pearl discusses particular writers, why they are unique, and what specific books of theirs she would recommend. In this section are authors such as Iris Murdoch as well as many whom Pearl considers inadequately appreciated.
Buy this book. And then begin looking forward to the sequel.
77 of 84 people found the following review helpful
A Christmas present well worth while. Nancy Pearl, a Seattle librarian, and local NPR celebrity where she discusses books, has
written a book that is recommended reading for every mood, moment and reason. She has organized these books into 175 useful,creative and humorous lists. These lists are quite specific and the Table of Contents lists them in alphabetical order. The one critique is that not enough information is given about the books, but maybe that was her intent. Just maybe she wants us to find out that information for ourselves.
I have gone through each list and found enough books that interest me to give me reading material for the next couple of years. I have purchased several.
Some of my favorites are:
Action Heroines-the usual VI Warshawski and Kinsey Milhorne but several new ones like Susan Van Meter and Paul Flint.
Adventure by the Book- Fiction and Non-fiction-Huckleberry Finn and National Geographic.
Hamilton Basso: Too Good To Miss-New Orleans Southern writer like "View From Pompeii's Head".
Bird Brains- books for and by birders
Fathers and Daughters and Fathers and Sons-Solomon's Daughter and Gambler's Rose
First Lines Too Remember-"First I had to get his body into the boat".
First Novels-Virgin Suicides, Stern Men, Biggest Elvis
The Islamic World-Islam: A Short History
The Moon's My Destination-Apollo- Epic Journey to the Moon
Shrinks and Shrinkees-I Never Promised You A Rose garden
Three Hanky Reads-A Lesson Before Dying
Texas, A Lone Star State of Mind-The Last Picture Show
Zero: This Will Mean Nothing To You-The Hole in the Universe
All together, 256 pages of books organized into themes that make sense. I really liked this book. I found it light reading, but full of great information.I will use this as a reference book for the times when I need a book of a particular theme, or a need for a book I can't quite put my finger on.
If you are just starting out on a reading life, this book is for you. Or, if you are looking for something to read, but don't know what will strike your fancy, this book is for you. A book for everyone, for any mood or for every mood. prisrob
36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
When I pick up a book like this, I look for two kinds of lists: those in which I have an interest but no knowledge, and those that are my areas of knowledge. I use the latter to gauge my trust in the former, and I have to say I was mildly disappointed with the lists about which I am knowledgable, such as Academic Satires and Historical Fiction, which neglected to mention essential authors and books. That tells me that the other lists, those in which I have no first-hand knowledge, will probably get me started but will be neither authoritative nor complete.
Secondly, I was not enamored of the format, which devotes approximately one page to each topic and is set up as commentary with book titles in bold face type. There are a wide variety of topics, from Australian Fiction to Epistolary Novels and Pawns of History, however there is usually no information about the year of publication. The general commentary is interesting but inconsistent, while the sentence devoted to each recommended work is helpful and informative, as if a friend in a hurry was telling you about the item.
This is a fun book and it will get you started in areas of interest to you; however, for a more comprehensive and authoritative list there is The List of Books (sadly out-of-print and dated, but available used) by Frederic Raphael and Kenneth McLeish and, for a guide to specific authors, which are covered idiosyncratically here, you might try About the Author by Alfred and Emily Glossbrenner.
The book concludes with a good index that lists all of the books and authors mentioned.
This will not be your most valuable guide to other books, but it will be useful.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2003
I lead and advise book discussion groups in the San Francisco Bay Area and think this book is a jewel for creating reading lists! The author, Seattle public librarian Nancy Pearl, has well honed personal and professional instincts for quality books with broad appeal.
For one thing, she serves as the Director of the Washington Center for the Book, where she created the program, "If All of Seattle Read the Same Book." This program became a model for programs like the California Council for the Humanities statewide promotion of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. (Isabel Allende will be Seattle's featured author for 2004.)
Book group leaders will appreciate Pearl's historical context for different genres including the experiences of different ethnic groups in America, and a list of 100 good reads, decade by decade for the 20th century. (Ten books are listed for each decade.) Imagine immersing your book group in one book for each decade over the course of a year. Or just reading the 1940's with picks like Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls, Richard Wright's Native Son and Marjorie Kinman Rawling's Cross Creek. The 1950's picks include Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man.
Book group leaders may also appreciate her section on Companion Reads--books that can be linked sequentially to broaden the understanding of each. For example, she suggests three "moving memoirs about growing up Hispanic in America: Down these Mean Streets by Piri Thomas, and When I was Puerto Rican and Almost a Woman by Esmeralda Santiago." Another interesting idea: pairing two novels about single women, written almost one hundred years apart, one by a man and one by a woman: The Odd Women by George Gissing and The Odd Woman by Gail Godwin. There's also a list of books about Elvis for those so inclined.
One caveat: some of the books that she recommends are now out of print--which might mean more interlibrary loan work or asking your bookstore for a special order.
51 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2003
This book is the first of its kind: a nearly infinite resource for people who are always looking for something good to read. I will never again be at a loss for a good book. I highly recommend it as a purchase or gift for any avid reader.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2003
If you love to read, then you'll love this gem of a book by Nancy Pearl. Pearl is the book-loving friend you wish you had. She'd be the one who reads the New York Times Book Review every Sunday and highlights the good finds for you. She's definitely given me some reading suggestions that I've thoroughly enjoyed.
Her book is categorized in interesting chapters that seems to fit reading moods. Categories range from Ecofiction, Presidential Biographies, Civil War Fiction to Great Dogs in Fiction. She even has a section on Elvis. It's actually a fun way to look at books.
In the section on Presidential Biographies, she references David McCollough. She mentions his best-selling books on Truman and John Adams, but what she actually recommends is his book about Teddy Roosevelt, Mornings on Horseback (which I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't know existed).
My only complaint (and it's a really small one) is she really doesn't go into great length or depth about most recommendations. One to three sentences and she's already moved on. Which is fine with me. I'm able to make note of what looks interesting and then go and do a little further research on my own to see if it really looks like a book worth my time and money.
I'd like to thank Pearl for introducing me to the following books:
Sahara: A Natural History
The Beak of the Finch
Measuring America: How an Untamed Wilderness Shaped the United States and Fulfilled the Promise of Democracy
And oh yeah - I'm currently reading Mornings on Horseback and love it.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2003
I adore books about books, and BOOK LUST is the best one I've come across thus far. Filled to the rim with over 175 lists, it's guaranteed to satisfy any bibliophile's appetite. I've been carrying around this book since I purchased it and I still can't get over how much I enjoy it and how useful it will be for me.
Each list is so much more than a simple rundown of assorted books. Nancy Pearl's narrative provides a much-appreciated glimpse into the book genre that only an experienced reader/librarian with decades of experience under their belt can provide. Her writing is intelligent and witty. Browsing this book is like sitting down and discussing books with a good friend over coffee.
Included is an excellent selection of list including fiction and non-fiction books such as:
African Literature in English
Brothers and Sisters
Czech it Out
Elvis on my Mind
Families in Trouble
Food for Thought
BOOK LUST solves a question many readers ponder: what should I read next? Now I know that this question will not haunt me anymore. Get this book. It's worth every penny.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2006
For an avid reader like myself, it's often tough to know what to read next. In this book, Nancy Pearl helped me get quite a few suggestions.
The book is helpfully broken up into little chapters about different genres or subjects, such as Action Heroines. I found it great, because if I'm not interested in that particular subject, I can just skip to the next section.
The only thing that prevented me from giving this book 5 stars was that the summaries about the books are way too short. I really couldn't tell whether I'd like the book or not until I had come and read a few of the book's reviews on Amazon.
All in all, this is a marvelous book, chock full of great suggestions for the casual and avid reader. I recommend it wholeheartedly.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2006
If you love books, are a compulsive reader and, most important, are not a book snob, you will love this list by librarian Nancy Pearl. See also the Nancy Pearl librarian action figure (she raises her finger to shush noisy visitors). I have not read all the books mentioned in Book Lust, and she has not read all the books I adore, but there is plenty of common meeting ground--and a lot of good ideas. Read it. Enjoy. I liked it so much I immediately bought "More Book Lust".
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
I'm a reader who never runs out of things to read. But when I occasionally do run out of things to read, I simply turn to this delicious guide to books from a seasoned librarian and longtime reader.
The great thing about this book is you can reader it cover to cover, or simply to have on hand on your nightstand should you ever be in need something great to read. Nancy Pearl gives the reader many lists of genres to choose from: from Chick Lit to Russian Heavies, from Romances to Science fiction, plus some favorite authors you shouldn't miss out on (I was pleased to note that Eleanor Lipman made the list). Its all in there- Pearl's guide to everything worth reading. Of course, its not definitive, but this book is a great guide for seasoned readers and non-readers alike. Also recomended: How Reading Changed My Life, by Anna Quindlen, and So Many Books, So Little Time, by Sarah Nelson.