Remarkable Reads: 34 Writers and Their Adventures in Reading

Overview

In personal essays that read like short stories, writers describe their life-altering encounters with books.
Can books be dangerous, elegant, or sad? Can books be tempting, or smokin', or double-d-daring? Can they compel you to hitchhike to the middle of Mexico, fall in love with snakes, or question your sanity? Of course they can. Writers including Jonathan Lethem, Haven Kimmel, Charles Frazier, and Bebe Moore Campbell tell us why in this eye-opening anthology. Tapping classic ...

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Overview

In personal essays that read like short stories, writers describe their life-altering encounters with books.
Can books be dangerous, elegant, or sad? Can books be tempting, or smokin', or double-d-daring? Can they compel you to hitchhike to the middle of Mexico, fall in love with snakes, or question your sanity? Of course they can. Writers including Jonathan Lethem, Haven Kimmel, Charles Frazier, and Bebe Moore Campbell tell us why in this eye-opening anthology. Tapping classic works such as The Catcher in the Rye and The Cat in the Hat as well as obscure novels such as Karel Capek's The War of the Newts, they reveal how literature tempts, enchants, and changes us. Each of these essays, which first appeared in the Raleigh News & Observer, reminds us that reading is not a passive pastime but an action sport that seizes and shapes, renews and remakes us. Insightful and heartfelt, humorous and accessible, Remarkable Reads will delight anyone who has ever loved a book.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Adventures in reading" may sound like an oxymoronic proposition, but Zane's collection points out that a wild journey or a bold feat can be inspired by a great piece of writing. Zane has culled a series of essays from the Raleigh News & Observer (where he is book review editor) in which authors assign superlatives ("the most enchanting," "the wisest," "the classiest") to their (usually) favorite books (there is also "the most dangerous" and "the most disappointing"). The results are occasionally surprising and enlightening: Clyde Edgerton's "most technically elegant" book-a flying manual-proves that good writing can be found in unlikely places. Jonathan Lethem's "loneliest" book (i.e., "I've still never met anyone else who's read it") is an obscure children's story by 1960s pop psychologist Eric Berne called The Happy Valley. Nasdijj chooses Louis L'Amour's To Tame a Land as his "saddest," for its inaccurate portrayal of cowboys and Native Americans. Some of the essays are anecdotal; others read like critical analysis, such as Doris Betts's examination of Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho (she concludes that her "most unpleasant" book has no artistic merit). At times, the rigid short format constricts the depth of the writing, and there are a few pat "aha" moments-Brett Lott's essay on The Catcher in the Rye, for one. At its best, this volume offers easily digestible nuggets of insight about why the written word matters. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This unique collection of essays on the experience of reading is a genuine pleasure to browse through. Editor Zane, whose day job is to edit the book page of the Raleigh News & Observer, asked 34 writers-among them Lee K. Abbott, Frederick Busch, Bebe Moore Campbell, Haven Kimmel, Jill McCorkle, Lee Smith, and Anthony Walton-to select a single book and use one adjective to describe their encounter with it. Each of the writers used the fill-in-the-blank formula of "The Most__Book I Ever Read" to select adjectives that best describe their adventures in reading. The adjectives are as diverse as memorable, lovely, enchanting, daunting, resonant, wise, classy, familiar, devastating, fearless, exotic, seductive, elegant, disappointing, unpleasant, and luminous. The selections range from literary classics by Camus, Forster, Welty, and Faulkner to esoteric works of literature to books one feels one should have read. The writers also contribute personal essays about their encounters with literature that are true hybrids of literary criticism and fiction and make for a rewarding reading experience. An excellent addition to any library's collection.-Pam Kingsbury, Florence, AL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393325409
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/19/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 261
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

J. Peder Zane is the book-review editor of the Raleigh News & Observer and the editor of Norton’s Remarkable Reads. His syndicated column received the ASNE Distinguished Writing Award for Commentary.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Adventures in Reading 7
The Most Memorable Book I Read 15
The Loneliest Book I Read 23
The Most Enchanting Book I Read 31
The Most Important Book I Read 39
The Most Daunting Book I Read 45
The Most Resonant Book I Read 51
The Most Dangerous Book I Read 59
The Wisest Book I Read 67
The Classiest Book I Read 73
The Most Eloquent Book I Read 81
The Maddest Book I Read 87
The Most Double-D-Daring Book I Read 95
The Hippest Book I Read 105
The Most Familiar Book I Read 111
The Most Incomprehensible Book I Read 119
The Most Devastating Book I Read 127
The Most Apocalyptic Book I Read 135
The Saddest Book I Read 143
The Most Fragile Book I Read 151
The Most Beautiful Book I Read 159
The Most Tempting Book I Read 167
The Most Fearless Book I Read 175
The Most Intuitive Book I Read 183
The Most Scottish Book I Read 189
The Most Technically Elegant Book I Read 195
The Queerest Book I Read 201
The Most Exotic Book I Read 207
The Most Smokin' Book I Read 213
The Most Seductive Books I Read 219
The Most Elegant Book I Read 225
The Most Surprising Book I Read 231
The Most Disappointing Book I Read 237
The Most Unpleasant Book I Read 243
The Most Luminous Book I Read 249
Acknowledgments 257
Permissions 259
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