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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Love Letter to Books and Reading, October 30, 2012
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This review is from: One for the Books (Hardcover)
"I once read Tortilla Flats from cover to cover during a Jerry Garcia solo on 'Truckin'' at Philadelphia's Spectrum; by the time he'd wrapped things up, I could have read 'As I Lay Dying.'"

"I have never squandered an opportunity to read."
Joe Queenan

Oh, boy - did I ever LOVE this book!!! How could anyone NOT swoon over such an exuberant and irreverent love letter to books and reading?

I can't think of any better way to review this one other than to just make a list of the reasons why this book instantly made the jump to my list of nonfiction favorites.

1) Queenan estimates that he has read six to seven thousand books in his lifetime. He knows what he's talking about.

2) Though we don't agree on everything, he has read several of the same wonderful and obscure authors and books that I have, like 'The House of Paper'.

3) Like me, he has books on his shelves that he NEVER plans to read, but as he says, "It would be pointless to get rid of them now."

4) Queenan has quirky book habits. He has no qualms about writing in his books, but will not read in the bathroom, as "it is unspeakably vulgar and disrespectful to the person whose work one is reading, unless one is reading someone appalling."

5) He has an aversion to book clubs. (The longer I stay in the two that I've joined, the more I'm inclined to agree.) In response to the "Questions for Discussion" that are now included in the backs of many books, Queenan has come up with a few of his own, like these from 'Wuthering Heights':

---1. Did you see the movie based on this book? Didn't you think Laurence Olivier was too old to play the part? Boy, I sure did. I never thought he was all that good-looking, did you?
---2. If Heathcliff had fallen in love with someone like Jane Eyre instead of Cathy, do you think his house would have burned down?
---3. If Heathcliff were alive today, would he mention Cathy's death on his Facebook page and say that he was no longer in a relationship?

6) Queenan embarks on many different reading "projects" like 'Spending a year reading books I had always suspected I would hate' and 'Spending a year reading books I picked off the library shelf with my eyes closed'.

7) He has a tendency to reject authors based on which sports teams they root for. (I TOTALLY GET this! I got rid of ALL my Kinky Friedman books after he threw his support behind Texas Governor Rick Perry in the 2012 Republican Primary.)

8) He recognizes the joy of occasionally reading BAD books, saying, "Shockingly bad books have an important place in our lives, because they keep our brains active. Good books don't make you think, because the author has already done the thinking for you, but a terrible book can give your brain a real workout, because you spend so much time wondering what incredibly dumb thing the author will say next."

9) I added at least a dozen titles mentioned in this book to my "must-read" list.

Queenan is now 61, so he spends a lot of time talking about his dwindling time left for reading. He discusses books he will NEVER finish and books he would love to read again. And he brought me up short with the question of "What will be the LAST book you read?"

"Reading is the way mankind delays the inevitable. Reading is the way we shake our fist at the sky. As long as we have these epic, improbable reading projects arrayed before us, we cannot breathe our last: Tell the Angel of Death to come back later; I haven't quite finished 'Villette'."
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