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Most Wonderful Books: Writers on Discovering the Pleasures of Reading

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In these short essays, published in association with the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress, 57 contemporary writers reminisce about their childhood encounters with reading. Although there is an overabundance of memories of being read to by parents and early encounters with libraries and librarians, the pieces are still varied and engaging. Bob Edwards, host of National Public Radio's Morning Edition, who now lives in a house with so many books it resembles a library, tells of growing up with parents who read only newspapers. Poet J.D. McClatchy recalls being instructed to read The Odyssey by candlelight in the basement of his homehis teacher wanted his students to duplicate the atmosphere in the hold of a storm-tossed ship. Fiction writer Ursula Hegi confesses to indulging in trashy romances that the family housekeeper hid under the ironing-board cover. Poet Naomi Shihab Nye sums up in one sentence the general sentiment: "Reading is, simply, the best thing I ever do in my life." Buchwald is publisher of Milkweed editions. Dorris (Cloud Chamber) died earlier this year. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Editors Dorris (Cloud Chamber, LJ 11/15/96) and Buchwald, editor and publisher of Milkweed, intend this collection to inspire readers and to serve as "a love letter and thank-you note to every librarian, English teacher, friend, relative, and parent" who introduced someone to a book. The collection of short, mostly original essays is lively and personal. In alphabetical order, 57 contributors, some better known than others, describe the first book they remember or how reading, and often writing, began for them. Short story writer Charles D'Ambrosio, for instance, describes how he used his first book to beat his sisters over the head, though he also read it with great interest. Other contributors include Sherman Alexie, Nicholson Baker, Gretel Ehrlich, and Robert Pinsky. Published in cooperation with the Library of Congress's Center for the Book and the "Building a Nation of Readers" campaign, this is appropriate for all libraries.Nancy P. Shires, East Carolina Univ. Lib., Greenville, N.C.
Kirkus Reviews
The late Dorris (Cloud Chamber, 1997, etc.) and Buchwald, publisher of Milkweed Editions, have assembled 57 brief recollections by writers of how, in Dorris's words, they "first encountered the magic of the printed word." As one might expect, these experiences vary widely: Sherman Alexie recalls learning to read from a Superman comic book; Nicholson Baker explains how he learned to read ("in the sense of of knowing how to follow a story with pleasure") by being read to by his mother; Susan Kenney recollects her surprise when she discovered "that words on the page make pictures in your mind, and you could take in a story with your eyes as well as through your ears." Larry Watson recaptures the exhilaration he felt when, at the age of 13, the local library allowed him to begin taking books from the adult section. Some pieces are unfocused, others perfunctory and unrevealing. But the best here are passionate and surprising, offering some distinctive celebrations of a lifelong infatuation with the power of the printed word to transport and enchant.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781571312167
  • Publisher: Milkweed Editions
  • Publication date: 8/28/1997
  • Pages: 297
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.41 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Table of Contents

Superman and Me 3
We Think So Then, and We Though So Still 7
A More Certain Alliance 9
Infectious Reading 13
How I Was Saved 17
An Appetite As Great As Any Other 19
A Few Thoughts on Pleasure and Meaning 25
When a Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words 29
Stray Influences 33
Making Friends with Nancy 37
The Outsider 39
Overbooked 45
About Reading 49
The Next Book 53
My Life in Fiction 59
The Inwards 63
"It's Agony, Betty! Agony!" 67
To Write - To Read and Vice Versa 79
A Letter to Mark Rudman 83
Reading, Being Read To, and Reading Together 87
Journey of a Lifetime 93
Kafka & the Titanic 99
More Shelf Space 103
The Magic of Reading 107
A House of Books: My Book House 111
Years in The Life 123
First Books 129
King: A Dog of the North 135
In the Company of Books 139
Orphans, Stalwarts, and Plucky Girls 143
Reading Up 147
Apologies of a Bookworm 151
Myself Reading 155
Up in the Back Room 159
Confessions of a Child Reader 169
The Fireside Book of Fire 173
Goodbye, Columbus 177
Dolls Alive 181
Bus Problems 183
In My Mother's Lap 189
Wealthy with Words 193
On the Way to Books 199
Why Do I Read? 201
Some Notes on Reading 205
Disorder, Sorrow, and Early Reading 211
You with Your Nose in a Book 219
My Back Pages 223
A Platypus in the Garden 227
A Private Addiction 231
Learning to Read 239
In Bed with a Book 243
Janitor's Daughter 249
Babes in the Wood 251
Across the Marsh 255
Midi 259
The Adult Section 269
Travelling in Space 273
Afterword 277
About the Editors 279
About the Contributors 281
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