THE LIBRARY OF CONTEMPORARY THOUGHT is a groundbreaking series where America's finest writers and most brilliant minds tackle today's most provocative, fascinating, and relevant issues. Striking and daring, creative and important, these original voices on matters political, social, economic, and cultural, will enlighten, comfort, entertain, enrage, and ignite healthy debate across the country.
Quindlen's novels, including Black and Blue (1997), have proved to be quite popular, but many readers still think of her as a trustworthy columnist for the New York Times, and it is in that warm and piquant voice that she addresses the subject of reading. In her swift and compelling paean to the joy of books, Quindlen boldly declares that she has been a voracious reader all her life, not because she wants to educate or better herself, but because she just loves reading "more than any other activity on earth." She believes that many people feel this way because books both "lessen isolation" and help readers escape the demands of everyday life. Reading, she says, is an "undersung" source of pleasure and comfort that ranks right up there with "God, sex, food, family, friends." Memories of book-bliss in childhood segue into incisive discussions of why reading for pleasure is so often viewed with suspicion and why women comprise the majority of fiction readers. Quoting from the American Library Association's reports on banned books in school and public libraries, Quindlen analyzes the great power books possess and the reasons they arouse fear and loathing as well as love and devotion. Technology's effect on publishing and attendant debates over the future of the book also engage Quindlen's nimble mind, and after a thorough assessment, she concludes that while computers are wonderfully useful, there's simply nothing like reading a real book. So ardent is Quindlen, she even compiled reading lists for book lovers of all ages. --Donna Seaman
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review
In this pithy celebration of the power and joys of reading, Quindlen emphasizes that books are not simply a means of imparting knowledge, but also a way to strengthen emotional connectedness, to lessen isolation, to explore alternate realities and to challenge the established order. To these ends much of the book forms a plea for intellectual freedom as well as a personal paean to reading. Quindlen (One True Thing) recalls her own early love affair with reading; writes with unabashed fervor of books that shaped her psychosexual maturation (John Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga, Mary McCarthy's The Group); and discusses the books that made her a liberal committed to fighting social injustice (Dickens, the Bible). She compares reading books to intimate friendshipboth activities enable us to deconstruct the underpinnings of interpersonal problems and relationships. Her analysis of the limitations of the computer screen is another rebuttal of those who predict the imminent demise of the book. In order to further inspire potential readers, she includes her own admittedly "arbitrary and capricious" reading lists "The 10 books I would save in a fire," "10 modern novels that made me proud to be a writer," "10 books that will help a teenager feel more human" and various other categories. But most of all, like the columns she used to write for the New York Times, this essay is tart, smart, full of quirky insights, lapidary and a pleasure to read. (Sept.) FYI: This is the latest in Ballantine's Library of Contemporary Thought. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Library Journal Review
Readers who miss best-selling novelist Quindlen's newspaper column will welcome the return of her engaging voice in this latest addition to Ballantine's "Library of Contemporary Thought," a series of short, inexpensive trade paperback originals. Never stodgy or academic, Quindlen ties her own experience to reading habits in general and the ways they have changed over the last 100 years, including the recent influence of Oprah. She concludes with a series of arbitrary and capricious reading lists that could give librarians ideas: "10 Books That Will Help a Teenager Feel More Human," "10 Mystery Novels I'd Most Like To Find in a Summer Rental," "10 Modern Novels That Made Me Proud To Be a Writer," etc. This little book for book lovers, an excellent choice for reading groups, is recommended for all libraries.Mary Paumier Jones, Westminster P.L., Lafayette, CO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Author Anna Quindlen was born in Philadelphia on July 8, 1953. She graduated from Barnard in 1974 and serves on their Board of Trustees. Quindlen worked as a reporter for the New York Post and the New York Times and wrote columns for the Times. She won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary before devoting herself to writing fiction. She has written both adult fiction (including Object Lessons, Black and Blue and One True Thing, which was made into a motion picture starring Meryl Streep) and children's fiction (Happily Ever After and The Tree That Came to Stay). Currently, she is a columnist at Newsweek. Her title Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake made The New York Times Best Seller list for 2012. (Bowker Author Biography)