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



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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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



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

Did you like this book?


From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

Did you like this book?