To mark the publication of J. Peder Zane's new book, "Off the Books: On Literature and Culture," we'll be posting an essay from it each day.
By J. Peder Zane
You never forget your first. That's why Anne Fadiman holds a special place in my heart.
Her splendid essay collection, "Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader," ignited my powerful passion for books about books. I was so enthralled by her descriptions of her literary life—of the books she has loved, the challenges of merging libraries after matrimony—that I was eager to follow her anywhere.
She laid out our next rendezvous in the section "Recommended Reading." "My favorite book about books," she wrote, "happens to be called ”The Book About Books: The Anatomy of Bibliomania.” It is a monumental compendium by Holbrook Jackson."
I thought: Who he?
Turns out he was an English man of letters (1874-1948) whose masterpiece contains 200 lively chapters that draw on a wealth of classical and modern sources to describe "Books and Their Most Excellent Qualities," "The Proper Time for Reading," as well as "The Joy of Book Hunting," "Perils of Fire and Water" and "On Choosing a Library for a Desert Island." Read more ...
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“Jonathan Lethem’s extraordinary career is a reminder of the not-so-distant past when working novelists published their new creations regularly and with a seemingly free-flowing hand,” Michael Greenberg writes in the New York Times Book Review. “If one book wasn’t up to snuff, there would be another to redeem it a year or two later. It was all part of the ebb and flow of a lifetime of work.
“During her long and distinguished career, Joyce Carol Oates never has shied away from the controversy that can come with using celebrities and tabloid news stories as the inspiration for her fiction,” Jon Michaud observes in the Washington Post.