A book about books and why people read them.
In her introduction to this impressive collection, Literary Hub contributing editor Patrick (An Uncommon History of Common Courtesy: How Manners Shaped the World, 2011, etc.) invites us in to read some prominent people’s brief and pithy reflections about the books that influenced them most. They are writers, musicians, CEOs, politicians, actors, and others, and all vouch for the power of the written word. They picked novels, children's books, sci-fi, nonfiction, poetry, and one comic book. Two of them (Mira Jacob and Sunil Yapa) picked the same book: Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things (1997). They both discovered in it a language they had never heard before but instantly recognized. Besides Roy, three other authors are picked twice: Joyce, Beckett, and Salinger. For the late Alan Cheuse, Ulysses was his “working bible.” For Lev Grossman, Waiting for Godot was a “vaudeville act about life.” Nine Stories spoke to a young Elissa Schappell’s “fear of dying and disappearing.” Tommy Hilfiger, who is dyslexic and “always had difficulty in reading,” picked Walter Issacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. A few contributors pick books in general, including Eric Idle: “I read omnivorously. I devour books.” Sherlock Holmes helped a shy Al Roker figure things out. Serendipity abounds. Richard Russo picked Pudd’nhead Wilson but didn’t realize how much it affected him until years later, while book review editor Ron Charles picked Russo’s Straight Man because it was the first book he reviewed and got paid for. While Fay Weldon writes about reading but not accumulating books, Gina Barreca bought Weldon’s Remember Me: “it changed everything for me.” Among the dozens of other contributors are Dave Eggers, Carl Hiassen, Fran Lebowitz, Margaret Atwood, Nelson DeMille, Susan Orlean, and Rosanne Cash. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the nonprofit 826National, which helps students improve their writing skills.
An inspiring collection that will make a perfect gift for an aspiring writer or devoted reader.