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Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books Hardcover – November 29, 2011


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Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books + My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop + My Ideal Bookshelf
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“In its beautiful design, Unpacking My Library is itself an argument for the continuing vitality of physical books and the libraries that contain them.”—The Boston Globe
(The Boston Globe)

"Filled with juicy details about how writers read, collect, and live with their books.”—Jean Temarin, The Chronicle of Higher Education
(Jean Temarin The Chronicle of Higher Education)

Winner of the 2012 New York Book Show Award in General Trade Jacket, as given by the New York Book Show 
(Jacket Cover Design Prize New York Book Show)

"[M]any of the observations may help disorganized book nuts bring some shape to the mishmash of books we call our own libraries."—Alan Bisbort, The Sunday Republican
(Alan Bisbort The Sunday Republican)

Unpacking My Library is a wild, wide world of authors and their books.  Maul it savagely or gently caress it.”—Fine Books & Collections
(Fine Books & Collections)

"There are many expensive coffee table books about books and libraries, but for a relatively modest cost, Price's volume offers a gorgeous set of pictures . . . [a] lovely book."—Harvey Freedenberg, Harrisburg Magazine
(Harvey Freedenberg Harrisburg Magazine)

"[A] sensual pleasure for the eyes, and a book fans of the writers, and of books and libraries, will enjoy."—Jeff Bursey, Rain Taxi
(Jeff Bursey Rain Taxi)

About the Author

Leah Price is professor of English at Harvard University. She is the author of The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel, Literary Secretaries/Secretarial Culture, and How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain. She writes on old and new media for the New York Times Book Review, the London Review of Books, and the Boston Globe.
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Product Details

  • Series: Unpacking My Library
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (November 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300170920
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300170924
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 8.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #544,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Leah Price is Professor of English and Chair of the History & Literature program at Harvard University. She teaches the novel, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British culture, narrative theory, gender studies, and the history of books and reading. Price is Humanities Director at the Radcliffe Institute; she also co-directs the faculty seminar on the History of the Book at the Harvard Humanities Center. In 2006 Price was awarded a chair in recognition of exceptional graduate and undergraduate teaching.

Price's books include The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel and (co-edited with Pamela Thurschwell) Literary Secretaries/Secretarial Culture; she has also edited (with Seth Lerer) a special issue of PMLA on The History of the Book and the Idea of Literature. She writes on old and new media for the New York Times Book Review, the London Review of Books, and the Boston Globe.

Unpacking my Library: Writers and their Books is just out from Yale University Press; How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain is forthcoming from Princeton in spring 2012. Price is at work on a new book, The Book that Never Was: How Idealizing the Printed Past is Distorting Our Digital Future.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By ireadabookaday VINE VOICE on January 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I am a big fan of books about books, living with books, really anything book related, and found this to be a beautifully designed and interesting look at personal book collections.

I was not aware of the dimensions of the book before reading it. I assumed it would be a bigger coffee table type book, but is is surprisingly compact.

Each author's personal library is photographed- though not necessarily in its entirety- folowed by closeups of selected shelves so you get an idea of the space
(you may develop bookcase envy), quantity, and organizational scheme . The author selects 10 books to feature, which are photographed separately. The photographs are accompanied by fairly brief but compelling interviews.

It is a small disappointment that the complete collections weren't photographed . ( What was omitted is addressed in a few of the interviews). I'd like have seen an estimate of the number of volumes in each collection.

This is an interesting and timely book given that physical book collections are probably beginning a decline, even among book lovers. Add this one to your physical collection today.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By L. Young VINE VOICE on December 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As soon as this book arrived I devoured it in one pleasure filled sitting. I'm a booklover and a book voyeur. After arriving at someone's home I say 'hello' and attempt to surreptiously peruse the titles on their shelves. What better way to a get a taste for who they are. In this small book editor Leah Price interviews thirteen contemporary writers, some better known than others. What are their earliest memories of books? When did they begin to buy books? How do they organize their libraries? Do they dispose of unwanted books and if so how? Each author selects their ten favorite books. However, what is most interesting are the photos of their bookshelves in all their disarray.(You will no long feel guilty about your own sloppy shelves.) The reader gets to be a voyeur (you may need a magnifying glass to assist with this) and see who owns what. The biggest surprise to me is that I saw few art books on their shelves and none on music.

If you are a booklover spend a couple of hours with this delightful book. If you know a booklover this would make an outstanding gift.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Allwazthinking on February 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The narrative that accompanied each writer's library photos was repetitive and often too obscure to be of much use to the general reader. I appreciated that most of them were extreme collectors who loved their books, but, like many book collectors, their reasons for their selections were elusive. I would have liked to know more about which books actually aided them in their own writing.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Kari Sullivan on November 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A great little book for anyone who still loves to treasure hunt in used bookstores. If you have an emotional relationship with your paper books that your friends don't understand, then you'll find kindred spirits in the interviewees.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jill on May 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are a vicarious library lover or just the least bit curious about the lives of authors, this book is a real treat. Not only do you get an interview with each of the writers whose libraries are pictured, but you also learn what their ten favorite books are. I keep this book in easy reach -- along with "At Home with Books" and other library-related volumes-- and have picked it up too many times to count. if I have a criticism, it is only that I wished the book included more writers. I'd gladly supply a list of the writers' libraries I'd like to see in the next volume!
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jani McCord on February 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you find yourself checking out all the titles of the books on the shelves of your friends and family, this book is for you. The interviews provide a window into some contemporary writers' thoughts. It reminds me of an issue of Dwell magazine.
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Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books
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