67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2001
This is a charming, amusing, often poignant glimpse into the mind of the bibliophile, and I, for one, was reassured that I am certainly not alone in my addiction to books (even the smell of them!). I have far more books than I can ever read in one lifetime, unless I am held prisoner in my home for the next 50 years and have nothing else to occupy my time (come to think of it, that doesn't sound half bad), but I must keep buying them, because I not only love to read, but I love the heft, the texture, the smell, the look of a book, and have ever since I can remember. I was heartbroken when I had to give back my first textbook (which I thought was a gift to me!), a reader called "Spot," and perhaps that childhood trauma is still with me! So I surround myself with MY books, and my husband does the same, and we read as much as we can, and it gives us great pleasure. This book has essays, stories, lists (I felt guilty when I hadn't read enough of the books, or, horrors! hadn't heard of some of them!, and even the gentle angst of the guilty book thief or two. Each writer has his own perspective on his addiction to books. Anyone who doesn not care to read has a gaping hole in his soul, I think, and will not care for this book. The rest of us can take consolation in reading the well-chosen words of those who can articulate what this gentle madness feels like and how life-enriching it truly is.
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
This book is an absolute necessity for book lovers. The editors have put together a wonderful collection of essays, stories, lists, and cartoons all about books. Every aspect of books is covered: collecting, reading, borrowing, lending, caring for, the history of, and much more. If you are the type of person who can spend hours in a bookstore, if you feel as if you are losing an arm or leg when you lend out a book, or if you don't understand why nobody else around you shares your love for print, this book is for you. Enjoy.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2000
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this collection, and saw myself--a true bibliophile--captured in many of the pieces. It is interspersed with fun cartoons (booklovers will want these on your bulletin boards) and lists that will make you think "what would my picks be for this list?". The two pieces by the editors also capture two different types of book collectors - the methodical, organized (maybe a little obsessive) type and the collector whose collection almost overruns his life, while expressing in a concrete way, his interests and passion for the subjects covered.
This book should be of interest to collectors of all types because it shows the devotion, the passion and the energy invested in accumulating something you love.
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2001
I have an addiction to buying--possessing--books that I want to read. There are some bibliophiles who are in it for the money or the history of the specific book they own. Not me. Regardless, this collection of fictional stories and personal anecdotes is relevant to book lovers of all types. If you need to buy books, then buy this one too.
Yet, the collection was not wholly satisfying. Some of the stories were too long and others too short. The young Flaubert's story "Bibliomania" about a murdering, book-loving monk is a must-read, and was the highlight of the collection. If you're new to the world of bibliophilia and all its strange inhabitants and their stories, this is a good book to begin with. For the seasoned bibliophile, this book can be overlooked (though if you're a bibliophile, I trust you won't be able to do that...).
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
I love this book. I borrowed a copy but quickly decided that I needed to buy my own. How else could I dip into the essays, enjoy the quotes and debate the lists?
This book is both a self-contained banquet and a guide to all manner of bibliofeasts. This is a book for those of us who like possessing books as well as reading books. I am heartened to know that I am not alone in my reluctance to lend books except in the most exceptional of circumstances. No, rather than lend a book I'd rather gift a copy.
If this book is revised, I think the editors should consider including a paean to Post-it notes as a means of marking important quotes and passages. Wait, we probably should research the properties of the adhesive first. I don't want to damage my books.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Harold Rabinowitz and Rob Kaplan have compiled a wonderful collection of stories, essays and poems that anyone with a passion for books is sure to find wonderful.
Ray Bradbury, in his foreword, helps to explain this passion...
Including contributions from current and previous writers who have explained their passions for books, this collection is witty and intelligent, and perhaps a bit over-the-top for those who do not share a similar passion.
Umberto Eco explains both how to organise a public library, and how to justify a private one. On the former, suggestions such as exceeding complex call numbers, mysterious locations of books and periodicals, and the attitude of librarians to patrons...These would seem enough in themselves to justify a private library, but Eco has yet a further purpose. A private library ensures that one can discern in visitors if they have a sufficient feel and appreciation of books...Further comment showed astonishment, in that my reviews (several hundred strong by that point) didn't include many 'cheap' books, but where all 'high priced hard backs' -- I do confess that a larger proportion of my income goes toward book-buying, but then I consider, I will keep these books all my life...Even the cost of a volume (and thankfully, most of my books are only half that amount), amortised over time, becomes a very good deal indeed; far less expense in time and petrol than running to the library to then be disappointed because the volume isn't there.
However, one of the sticky issues of having a private library becomes lending privileges. Christopher Morley wrote a wonderful thanksgiving to one of his returned books...
Rabinowitz and Kaplan include such treasures as an Ode by Petrarch, entitled My Friends, which takes some careful reading to tell that it is an ode to books, and not to people. The editors include various top-ten lists (Norman Mailer's ten favourite American novels, W. Somerset Maugham's ten greatest novels -- these two lists share one book in common, namely Herman Melville's Moby Dick) and various top-one hundred lists. Various essays on the history of book writing and book production are included to give a sense of substance to the mystery that is the love of books.
For any bibliophile, this book is a necessity.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2003
Although I do not consider myself obsessed with books, I have loved reading since I figured out how. Even when I was in elementary school, I frequently got in trouble for reading during class. Thankfully, with age this hasn't changed. I prefer reading to every other pasttime, and I just don't get people who don't like to read.
I purchased this book sight unseen completely on the basis of its title; I was not let down. I think that the authors/editors did an excellent job of compiling essays, articles, and lists, about the greatest pasttime a person could have; unfortunately, it will never take the place of night baseball. I found several of the articles highly amusing, especially the one story about a man willing to kill for one particular volume. I also found quite a few good reading recommendations through this book. A PASSION FOR BOOKS should not be read straight through like an average novel; it is meant to be absorbed little by little so that the same passion starts to sink in.
You must remember that the title is A PASSION FOR BOOKS, not A PASSION FOR READING. This book is all about books -- good ones, bad ones, weird ones -- and the people who adore them. It extols the virtues of books.
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2002
Although I came close to purchasing this, I'm glad I borrowed it from the library first because I must admit to finding this book more than a little disappointing.
Firstly, I agree with the comment made by another reviewer that there is an obvious lack of women writers in this collection. Not only are most of the contributors male, but "The New Lifetime Reading Plan" lists 133 authors and their most well known works, and I counted only 7 or so female authors among them. Where are women's voices?
Before I'm accused of getting up on my feminist soap-box, my second criticism is that there is a strong slant towards American writers and their books. Certainly Dickens and Austen rank a mention or two, but overall I found a very strong bias reflected in the selections chosen, including "Ten Books that Shaped the American Character", "Books that Changed America" and "Norman Mailer's Ten Favorite American Novels". The rest of the world writes books too!
Thirdly - though this is more personal preference than anything else - quite of lot of the essays were written at least 50 years ago and focus almost entirely on the classics. Now I know classics are "classic" for a good reason, but this book barely acknowledges that any good literature has been produced since the middle of last century. Couple this with the emphasis on buying first editions at auctions, and one feels that there is a distinct air of "elite gentlemen's club" about this book. Whatever happened to the pure joy of picking up a much-loved but recent paperback at a secondhand bookstore and spending the weekend by the fire reading? I didn't see this passion and pleasure reflected much in this collection.
There are still interesting pieces in this book, but only a mere handful which I could say I truly enjoyed: the pieces by the editors Rob Kaplan and Harold Rabinowitz, Gustave Flaubert's "Bibliomania", Solly Ganor's "The Book Action", Anna Quindlen in "How Reading Changed My Life", and "Potch" by Leo Rosten. Of the rest I would say that a little goes a long way.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2000
This masterful collection of short pieces on the joy of book collecting and reading should find its place in the forefront of every bibliophile's shelves. Buy it!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2010
I am a typical Gemini and a Jack of all trades, in other words everthing facinates me but I never can stick to anything.....untill I reead this book. I dabbled in biblioholism before this book but after I am a confirned bibliomaniac about "books about book". I love the short reads of each chapter and the tales that take place at various time about book proves that they are timeless. The editors could have doubled the chapters in my opinion but I am very biased. This is my Favorite book in the world and I always have a copy of it with me at all times, I hardly ever re-read a book but this one I re-read at least 3 times a year. Each time I read it differently - front to back, just open to a page and go from there or I might read a page here and there till I finish the book. I love this book so much i had the UPC code of the trade paperback tattooed on my neck and when i got to a big book chain I walk in and point to my neck and ask if they can order me a copy of this book. I don't know but ever since I found this book I have found how to read and what I love to read the most. It has improved my attention span, focus on ideas and has given me a measuring stick in which to hold up to all other books I read.