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Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason annotated edition Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1570613814
ISBN-10: 1570613818
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

So many books, so little time-so which of the countless titles should a hungry reader pick out and devour? Pearl, a longtime reader, book reviewer and public librarian, presents a hundred or so of her favorites in this novel guide to finding the right book for the right mood. Presented in eclectic categories of people, places and themes (e.g. "Prose by Poets," "Dinosaur Hunting," "In Big Sky Country" and "Academia: The Joke"), each of her suggestions is accompanied by a few of her thoughts on it, a succinct plot summary and often information about the volume's prizes and print status. Her notes are sprightly and concise: in the section on "Families in Trouble," Pearl mentions Pat Conroy's The Prince of Tides ("I always thought that it...defined the dysfunctional novel") and Sylvia Foley's Life in Ocean Air ("surely one of the most depressing books I have ever read in a lifetime of reading grim and depressing books"). There's more than just novels, of course: she recommends, for instance, good "Techno-thrillers" ("nonfiction about science and technology") such as The Thread Across the Ocean: The Heroic Story of the Transatlantic Cable and One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw. Interestingly, Pearl urges readers to abandon books they dislike after 50 pages, though she does point out that frame of mind often determines one's opinion of a book. "When I begin reading a new book, I am embarking on a new, uncharted journey," Pearl declares in her brief introduction; with this guidebook in hand, readers can benefit from her experience as they travel their own ways.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

This column is the latest in our series of interview articles showcasing books written by Booklist contributors. Our focus this time is on Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason by Nancy Pearl, a longtime freelance contributor of reviews to this magazine (see our review of the book on p.24 of this issue).

When Booklist asked Pearl about the provenance of her new book, her answer struck us as the dream of every writer and book lover. "The publisher came to me," she confided, "with the idea of doing a book of recommended reading--incorporating all sorts of books, old and new, fiction and non, for all ages. They wanted it to be friendly and inviting, to sound like I was talking to people who shared my love of reading and good books and wanted some ideas of what to read next."

The publisher certainly approached the right person for the job. A practicing librarian for many years, Pearl is currently the director of the Washington Center for the Book at Seattle (WA) Public Library. Also, it was her brilliant and much-imitated idea to get all the readers in her hometown to read the same book at the same time and join discussion groups about it. The idea has spread from city to city across the country. She has written a two-volume readers'-advisory reference set titled Now Read This (1999; 2000). But her new book is more than a reference resource for librarians in their readers'-advisory work. It is also a book for personal use by library patrons, and even a book to own and keep on one's reading stand.

Pearl sees this book as a personal milestone. "It's the book that I think my whole life (and career as a librarian) has been leading toward. I basically went through my bookcases at home, where I have managed to accumulate most of my favorite books, and figured out categories they would go in." She came up with almost 200 categories, many of them not surprising, such as "Latin American Fiction," "Science gFiction, Fantasy, and Horror," "Techno-Thrillers," "Biographical Novels," and "First Novels." Other categories reflect Pearl's creative approach to linking books, and these unexpected but exciting categories include "Our Primates/Our Selves," "Historical Fiction for Kids of All Ages," "Grit Lit," "Do Clothes Make the Man (or Woman)?" and "Shrinks and Shrinkees."

One of the most interesting categories is called "Too Good to Miss." Actually, this category makes repeat appearances throughout the book, each time focusing on the work of a single author. In "Too Good to Miss," always approximately a page in length, Pearl isolates what makes a particular writer special to her and what books she would recommend. The authors receiving this special treatment include Frederick Busch, Mark Kurlansky, Eric Kraft, and Iris Murdoch. When Booklist suggested these one-author spotlights were one of the best features of the book, Pearl admitted, not surprisingly, that she loved preparing them. "I tried to include authors who I felt might be underappreciated . . . as well as those who might be less well known. Doing them gave me the chance to talk a bit about what makes these writers so good, which was a fine exercise for me as a reader and book reviewer." She expresses the regret that "I wish now that I had done more of them." So will her readers.

Of course, in preparing a book like this, which is all about recommending books on all kinds of subjects to open and eager readers, Booklist wondered if Pearl worried more about leaving out a number of books and authors than figuring out which ones to include. Pearl concurred: "The worst--most painful--part was having to bring the project to a halt. I still wake up in the middle of the night in a panic, realizing that I left out [certain] authors and books." That would seem to be an inevitable part of the selection process. Pearl had the last word on the subject: "I have to say, having done the indexing myself, that most of my favorite books are here. Except, of course, for the new books that come out after the book was done. I might have to do another book to include those!" We look forward to the sequel, then. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 287 pages
  • Publisher: Sasquatch Books; annotated edition edition (August 12, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570613818
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570613814
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #433,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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