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So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading Paperback – October 5, 2004
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
...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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Nelson is an inveterate reader, the messy kind who frequently has more than one book open at once. Her plan for the year 2002 was to read a book a week and record her reactions, or more importantly explore how the book ties into her life. The weekly entries take on a variety of themes, not to mention books, as Nelson opens up her mind and life. Books that dovetail with the issues of her life, books that distract her from the issues of her life, books that work or don't on vacation, books that call up her younger selves, books that nick into her marriage or relationships with parents, books that parent with her, books that fit a mood--she finds them all across the year. She is amazingly candid, wisecrackingly funny and often touching. She keeps the suspense going: can she keep up the pace and fulfill her goals?
In the end she and we know far more about her than about the books, but learning about oneself is part of the reading journey. I think a lot of readers will find that even if their lives and likes are different from Nelson's, they will have found a soulmate.
Sara Nelson, at the time a book reviewer for Glamour magazine, vowed to read a book a week during 2002. In SO MANY BOOKS, SO LITTLE TIME, she tells us, her fellow bibliophiles, how she fared, as well as her past and present experiences with the great passion of her life - reading.
Upon completion of this engaging volume, I was tempted to award 3 or 4 stars, chiefly because her literary interests are so different from mine and I couldn't relate to most of the particular titles that she mentions. (I've heard of perhaps only a third of them, and have myself read only a couple. Indeed, she reads only the rare historical novel, and, almost incomprehensibly and reprehensibly, non-fiction works of history not at all.) But, this would have been supreme self-centeredness on my part. Sara does with excellence what she intended to do, i.e. describe what are for her and for the rest of us compulsive book lovers the varied facets of the reading experience, many of which we hardly ever give a thought. Several times I found myself nodding in affirmation of her written words and thinking, "Yup, you hit that right on."
SO MANY BOOKS, SO LITTLE TIME is divided into thirty-five chapters, plus Prologue and Epilogue. Each chapter is headed by a date and title, the former, in the aggregate, sequentially and more or less evenly spaced out over 2002. Each chapter, with reference to specific book titles, deals with an aspect of book consumption. As examples:
"February 1, Double-Booked" about the practice of having one book for home and one for away. In Nelson's case, as in mine, the former is usually hardcover and the latter a more portable softcover.
"February 27, The Clean Plate Book Club" concerning the obsession to finish a book once begun, and the maturation process that eventually allows one to permanently toss one that's not working. For me at 59, this still goes against the grain, but I've learned. Thankfully, I find myself in the predicament only rarely.
"March 22, Sharing Books Gives Me Heartburn" about the painful practice of lending books out and perhaps not getting them back. I never lend books, but freely give them away when I'm through with them.
"June 1, Summer Reading" concerning the overly optimistic notion that one will have the time to read on those summer weekends away at the beach resort, or wherever. Verily, vacations with my wife are death marches; who has time to read?
"July 20, Reading Confidential", or how to fall in and out of love with a particular author.
"September 18, Kid Stuff", about the impact the books of childhood may have on our lives. I'll never forget the Young Trailer series by Joseph Altsheler featuring the Kentucky frontiersmen Henry Ware, Paul Cotter, Shif'less Sol Hyde, Long Jim Hart, and Silent Tom Ross.
"September 25, Sex and the City", concerning the prurient pay-off a best-selling erotic novel may or may not provide the reader. Well, I recall becoming feverish as a young adolescent upon reading my secret copy of FANNIE HILL.
"November 15, Oeuvre and Oeuvre Again", regarding the branding of writers by the publishers, and the prudent disinclination to read too many books by the same author back to back. This is a policy I've followed religiously, except after I discovered Gerald Seymour.
"November 25, Openings", or the ability of a book's opening lines to grab and not let go (for better or worse).
"December 10, Friends and Family", about the pressure of being asked by a writer, sometimes a friend or family member, to read a work and give an honest opinion. Writers occasionally ask me to read and review their stuff; I've made several friends and, I suspect, a few enemies. One of the former actually created a fictional character bearing my name in one of his action thrillers (Hot Blood (A Dan Shepherd Mystery) ); my double-take would've been fodder for the old TV show "Candid Camera".
Only once did I become irritated with the author, and this over a small point of geography. As a resident of New York City, I doubt Sara would seriously claim that Philadelphia is near Richmond, VA. Yet, when referring to the WWII American internment camp for Japanese-American citizens at Manzanar in the Owens Valley near present day Independence, CA, she states it being "near Santa Ana, California" though the two places are separated by roughly 260 miles, about the same distance separating Philly and Richmond. Perhaps Nelson should add a Rand McNally 2008 Road Atlas: Large Scale- United States (Rand Mcnally Large Scale Road Atlas USA) to her "must read" stack.
Despite my single twinge of irritation and my general inability to relate to the author's choice of reading materials, I'm awarding five stars because, in the end, Sara shares the view:
"I've lived the past year exactly how I wanted to - between the covers of books and in the places in my head that those books have taken me. I've been agitated, excited, enthralled, annoyed, frustrated, and sometimes a little bored. But I've never been lonely."
Indeed, because of books, this statement applies to my entire life. Thank you, Sara, for reminding me of this truth.
But that said, I did identify with Ms. Nelson's love of books. I have a book with me all the time and I keep a copy of something, (normally Jane Austen) in the car in case I forget to bring what I am reading at the time. I go through at least 2 books a week, sometime more, I read the reviews on Amazon ( I don't always go by what they say, but I read them!), and I read every book magazine and newspaper book section I can get my hands on. I have hundreds of books I have not read, and hundreds and hundreds more that I have. My husband has to beg me at times to please give some away, we have no more room.
So, I too have too many books,and never enough time. But I do want to thank Ms. Nelson for a couple of things. I have started (after turning 45) allowing myself to put down books I don't like. I used to feel the need, ( I guess since I paid for it) to finish it no matter what. I have now decided life is too short. Ms. Nelson reinforced this for me, and has helped with the guilt that still sneaks in once in a while. And second...I have a confession. I too look ahead sometimes. I particularly liked her friend who explained it this way....I look ahead on something I really like, just so I can relax and enjoy the journey. (Those were not her words, but the sentiment). Also, I like the reader friend who reads the end of mysteries first, since he doesn't really like suspense! Anyway I have always thought I was the only one who did that, and I never have been able to confess it! Thank you for bringing my deep secret into the light!
So, read this book, I would have given it a five star, if only I didn't feel as if Ms. Nelson and her publishing friends want to sell me their client's books, but don't respect me as a reader!