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So Many Books, So Little Time Hardcover – October 13, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (October 13, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399150838
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399150838
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,165,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"I have a New Year's plan," Nelson writes in the prologue to this charming diary of an unapologetic "readaholic." Her goal: to read a book a week for a year and try "to get down on paper what I've been doing for years in my mind: matching up the reading experience with the personal one and watching where they intersect-or don't." Armed with a list of books, the author, a Glamour senior contributing editor, the New York Observer's publishing columnist and a veteran book reviewer, begins her 52-week odyssey. She doesn't necessarily stick to her list, which includes classics ("the homework I didn't do in college"), books everyone's talking about (like David McCullough's John Adams) and titles as diverse as Call It Sleep, by Henry Roth, and Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting. But she succeeds in sharing her infectious enthusiasm for literature in general, the act of reading and individual books and authors. Along the way, Nelson unearths treasures. She becomes enamored of David Mura's Turning Japanese, a memoir that helps her understand her Japanese-American husband better, and looks to Henry Dunow's The Way Home, about coaching baseball, while trying to help her second-grade son improve his athletic skills. Most readers will probably come away from this love letter to books eager to pursue some of Nelson's favorites-Nora Ephron's Heartburn, perhaps, or Emma Donoghue's Slammerkin-which is what makes Nelson's reflections inspiring and worthwhile.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

...Nelson is a charming companion... -- Time Out New York, October 16-23, 2003

...a fitting conclusion to a work that will make readers run to the shelf to discover which book beckons next. -- Library Journal, starred review, September 15, 2003

A smart, witty, utterly original memoir about how every book we read becomes a part of us. -- Augusten Burroughs

Book clubs...will find this...memoir a handy reading guide, while...book junkies will devour every page. -- St. Petersburg Times, December 2, 2003

This is a wonderful read in itself and an invaluable source of books to be explored. -- Barbara Wyatt, Elle

[Nelson's] passion for the page shines throughout. -- People, November 24, 2003

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

So, I too have too many books,and never enough time.
N. Gargano
This book is about Sara Nelson's commitment to read a book a week for a year- and then write about it.
lindsey pinzy
I do recommend this book and if you should read it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Nancy R. Katz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

117 of 128 people found the following review helpful By Jon Linden VINE VOICE on October 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
READ ME! That is what Sara Nelson's new book, So Many Books, So Little Time screamed out to me when it arrived. I have so many of the same problems. I always have at least 500 books in my "to read" pile, and they are triaged in importance, the order of which is subject to change at any second depending on my needs as a reader. So, when I saw this book, I figured it will bring a solution to my dilemma. I was wrong, and will explain why as I go on.
As early as the Prologue and the first chapter, so appropriately named, "Great Expectations," as I believe it expressed Sara's intent at the beginning of this reading project, and it expressed the reader's state upon entering her creation; I was completely committed. And I continued to feel great expectations with each chapter that I read. While it did take me 3 days to read the book, longer than it should have, I did take to carrying it everywhere with me in those 3 days, a behavior that is rare for me.
The book describes Sara Nelson's one-year journey to read books of her selection and to write about the experience. But as all of us `read-a-holics' know, the next book we read is always driven by circumstances that we cannot predict. Thus it was for Ms. Nelson as well. She had a well chosen list of books she wanted to read, but ended up reading several that she did not intend to, and not reading some that she did intend to. This process could have been predicted by any well-addicted reader. We all know, that what we want to read next, may not be what we thought we would want to read next, when we started what we are reading now.
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75 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wilson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
To read Sara Nelson's book is to obtain a top-secret pass. Into the halls of power and might? No. Into the corridors of a passionate reader's mind, yes. In fact, her ode to literature might be titled "Finding Mr. Write." She points out, quite fittingly, the relationship between readers and their chosen printed companions. If you, like Ms. Nelson and this reviewer, have ever fawned over an intriguing title on the shelf like a teenager harboring a crush, then you'll adore the insights and shared intimacies of "So Many Books, So Little Time."
Nelson attacks her subject with, uh, uninhibited desire. Examining a year of her own reading habits, she unveils the tendencies and quibbles and sparks of heated excitement found between the covers. (Of printed matter, of course--don't let her infatuations confuse you.) The metaphor is appropriate, if you share her love for books. There's the starry-eyed introduction, the clumsy yet heady getting-to-know-you stage, the culminating union of heart and soul. Our mothers tried to warn us, though: "Be careful, I tell ya. Most boys are up to no good." Yeah, and not all books are as wonderful as they appear; not all classics live up to our expectations.
Nelson's unafraid of pointing fingers here. She tells us which ones left her uninvolved and clammy. While dispensing insights into her own roles as wife and mother, she also reveals truths she's discovered through the joys (and travails) of reading. Not all books are for everyone. Not everyone finds a match the first time around. Nelson never loses faith, however, in the idea that reader and book will find each other eventually.
In this search for Mr. Write, Nelson keeps us laughing at her, at ourselves, and the wacky world around us. For the jaded among us, beware...You might find yourself falling in love all over again.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Bookish and Proud on December 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is not a book about reading. This is a self-indulgent memoir full of incredibly dull personal history ("My mother gets on my nerves!" "I have sibling rivalry issues with my sister!") literary name-dropping ("I stayed in the Vermont lodge of the great Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn because I am the friend of one of his stepsons' widows!"), and obsession over the fact that the (white) author's husband is Asian ("My husband is Asian!" "Did I mention that I'm in an interracial marriage?"). Bizarrely, there is very little discussion of the books the author reads or of her emotional reactions to them, good or bad. For someone who is supposedly "passionate" about reading, she certainly makes the topic uninteresting.

I made it through page 69, and by that time (March 15), the author had given up on reading "Funnymen" and "Miracle at St Anna". So why should I avoid these books? Well, "Funnymen" clashed too much with the solemn atmosphere at the Vermont lodge, and "Miracle at St Anna" "just doesn't work". I could get more information than that just by scanning the Amazon reviews for those books, and I plan to.

I strongly suspect that the only reason this book saw print is due to the author's publishing connections. One of the novels she reads is in the form of a spiral-bound proof lent to her by her sister, who had been using it for review purposes. And then there are asides like, "There's the novel by the writer I knew of only by reputation, until he became my favorite boss".

And no, she doesn't read a book a week for a year. In Appendix B, the author notes:

"So did you make your book-a-week goal? people have been asking me. The real answer: Yes and no. Sometimes I read a book in a day. Some things took a couple of weeks.
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