An inspiring collection that will make a perfect gift for an aspiring writer or devoted reader.



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.

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-941393-65-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Regan Arts

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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