Warm, often charming essays that celebrate the treasure of books.

READ REVIEW

THE PLEASURE OF READING

43 WRITERS ON THE DISCOVERY OF READING AND THE BOOKS THAT INSPIRED THEM

Writers reveal the books that shaped them.

The mission of the British Give a Book charity is to share books with those most in need, including children in poor primary schools, mothers in shelters, and prisoners. This collection, whose royalties will aid the charity, is a slight expansion of a previous volume edited by Fraser (Perilous Question: Reform or Revolution? Britain on the Brink, 1832, 2013, etc.) in 1992 to celebrate the bicentenary of the British book chain WHSmith. The new collection includes 43 writers who were asked to reflect on their early reading and to list 10 favorite books. American readers will find many familiar notables among the original contributors, including Stephen Spender, Doris Lessing, John Fowles, Margaret Atwood, and A.S. Byatt. Younger writers are likely to be less familiar: the Indian-born novelist Kamila Shamsie; biographer Katie Waldegrave; poet Emily Berry; and playwright Tom Wells. On the whole, the essays make for pleasant reading. “My first sense of books,” writes Edna O’Brien, “is the feel and the smell of them...old books growing musty in a trunk.” The late playwright and novelist Simon Gray learned to read from “the captions and balloon-dialogue of Captain Marvel comics.” Germaine Greer calls reading her “first solitary vice…I read while I ate, I read in the loo, I read in the bath. When I was supposed to be sleeping, I was reading.” Lists of favorite books tend toward the canonical, with Jane Austen a popular entry, whether Mansfield Park (the favorite of mystery writer Ruth Rendell: “the fun-less one, the profoundest, the most didactic, but nevertheless the greatest”) or Pride and Prejudice. Dickens, Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, and Joyce reappear, as well. Tom Wells cites David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries and describes Joan Littlewood’s autobiography Joan’s Book “like a radiator, a suit of armour, and a proper adventure, all at once.”

Warm, often charming essays that celebrate the treasure of books.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63286-228-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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