by Robin Sloan
About the book: A gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life—mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead "checking out" impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he's embarked on a complex analysis of the customers' behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what's going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore. With irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan has crafted a literary adventure story for the twenty-first century, evoking both the fairy-tale charm of Haruki Murakami and the enthusiastic novel-of-ideas wizardry of Neal Stephenson or a young Umberto Eco, but with a unique and feisty sensibility that's rare to the world of literary fiction. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave, a modern-day cabinet of wonders ready to give a jolt of energy to every curious reader, no matter the time of day.
by Anne Fadiman
About the book: Is a book the same book-or a reader the same reader-the second time around? The seventeen authors in this witty and poignant collection of essays all agree on the answer: Never. The editor of Rereadings is Anne Fadiman, and readers of her bestselling book Ex Libris (FSG, 1998) will find this volume especially satisfying. Her chosen authors include Sven Birkerts, Allegra Goodman, Vivian Gornick, Patricia Hampl, Phillip Lopate, and Luc Sante; the objects of their literary affections range from Pride and Prejudice to Sue Barton, Student Nurse. Each has selected a book or a story or a poem--or even, in one case, the lyrics on the back of the Sgt. Pepper album--that made a deep impression in his or her youth, and reread it to see how it has changed in the interim. (Of course, what has really changed is the reader.) These essays are not conventional literary criticism; they are about relationships. The relationship between reader and book is a powerful one, and as these writers attest, it evolves over time. Rereadings reveals at least as much about the reader as about the book: each is a miniature memoir that focuses on that most interesting of topics, the protean nature of love. And as every bibliophile knows, no love is more life-changing than the love of a book.
by Nilanjana Roy
About the book: From Bankimchandra Chatterjee to G.V. Desani to Vikram Seth, Indian writing in English has come a long way over the last hundred years. And Nilanjana Roy - voracious eater of books and sharpest of critics - has taken stock of it all. One of India's most widely read journalists, Roy has been writing reviews, columns, essays and features for over two decades. The Girl Who Ate Books revisits the best of these occasional pieces and weaves them together with a set of new personal essays. From early memories of living in a house made of books to encounters with men and women who hoarded books to the author's first taste of the printed word, this is a memoir of reading, loving and living with books like no other. Bringing together writers across generations - from the obscure Sake Dean Mahomet to the mischievous Khushwant Singh to the fiery Arundhati Roy - The Girl Who Ate Books gives us a ringside view of the theatre of Indian writing in English over several decades, and especially the last two. Written in the author's understated but unfailingly elegant style, this is an essential collection for those who live to read and read to live.
by Sara Nelson
About the book: Sara Nelson editor, reporter, reviewer, mother, daughter, wife, and compulsive reader set out to chronicle a year s worth of reading, to explore how the world of books and words intermingled with children, marriage, and friends. She had a system all set up: fifty-two weeks, fifty-two books and it all fell apart the first week. This is a personal memoir filled with wit, charm, insight, infectious enthusiasm - enough to make a passionate reader out of anybody.
by Charles Van Doren,Mortimer J. Adler
About the book: With half a million copies in print, How to Read a Book is the best and most successful guide to reading comprehension for the general reader, completely rewritten and updated with new material. Originally published in 1940, this book is a rare phenomenon, a living classic that introduces and elucidates the various levels of reading and how to achieve them—from elementary reading, through systematic skimming and inspectional reading, to speed reading. Readers will learn when and how to “judge a book by its cover,” and also how to X-ray it, read critically, and extract the author’s message from the text. Also included is instruction in the different techniques that work best for reading particular genres, such as practical books, imaginative literature, plays, poetry, history, science and mathematics, philosophy and social science works. Finally, the authors offer a recommended reading list and supply reading tests you can use measure your own progress in reading skills, comprehension, and speed.
by Jean-Claude Carriare,Umberto Eco
About the book: 'The book is like the spoon: once invented, it cannot be bettered' - Umberto Eco. These days it is impossible to get away from discussions of whether the book will survive the digital revolution. Blogs, tweets and newspaper articles on the subject appear daily, many of them repetitive, most of them admitting ignorance of the future. Amidst the twittering, the thoughts of Jean-Claude Carrière and Umberto Eco come as a breath of fresh air. This thought-provoking book takes the form of a conversation in which Carrière and Eco discuss everything from how to define the first book to what is happening to knowledge now that infinite amounts of information are available at the click of a mouse. En route there are delightful digressions into personal anecdote. We find out about Eco's first computer and the book Carrière is most sad to have sold. And while, as Carrière says, the one certain thing about the future is that it is unpredictable, it is clear from this conversation that, in some form or other, the book will survive.
by John Baxter
About the book: The memoirs of a book collector are comprised of the author's whimsical recollections of his encounters with literary figures and trace his transformation from an Australian bush child to a Parisian penthouse occupant with a personal library worth millions. Reprint. 10,000 first printing.
by Alan Bennett
About the book: The Uncommon Reader is none other than HM the Queen who drifts accidentally into reading when her corgis stray into a mobile library parked at Buckingham Palace. She reads widely ( JR Ackerley, Jean Genet, Ivy Compton Burnett and the classics) and intelligently. Her reading naturally changes her world view and her relationship with people like the oleaginous prime minister and his repellent advisers. She comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with much that she has to do. In short, her reading is subversive. The consequence is, of course, surprising, mildly shocking and very funny.
by Jennifer Campbell
About the book: 'Can books conduct electricity?' 'My children are just climbing your bookshelves: that's ok... isn't it?' A John Cleese Twitter question ['What is your pet peeve?'], first sparked the "Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops" blog, which grew over three years into one bookseller's collection of ridiculous conversations on the shop floor. From 'Did Beatrix Potter ever write a book about dinosaurs?' to the hunt for a paperback which could forecast the next year's weather; and from 'I've forgotten my glasses, please read me the first chapter' to 'Excuse me... is this book edible?' This full-length collection illustrated by the Brothers McLeod also includes top 'Weird Things' from bookshops around the world.
by Jen Campbell
About the book: Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops was a Sunday Times bestseller, and could be found displayed on bookshop counters up and down the country. The response to the book from booksellers all over the world has been one of heartfelt agreement: it would appear that customers are saying bizarre things all over the place - from asking for books with photographs of Jesus in them, to hunting for the best horse owner's manual that has a detailed chapter on unicorns. Customer: I had such a crush on Captain Hook when I was younger. Do you think this means I have unresolved issues? More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops has yet more tales from the antiquarian bookshop where Jen Campbell works, and includes a selection of 'Weird Things...' sent in from other booksellers across the world. The book is illustrated by the BAFTA winning Brothers McLeod.
by Jen Campbell
About the book: We're not talking about rooms that are just full of books. We're talking about bookshops in barns, disused factories, converted churches and underground car parks. Bookshops on boats, on buses, and in old run-down train stations. Fold-out bookshops, undercover bookshops, this-is-the-best-place-I've-ever-been-to-bookshops. Meet Sarah and her Book Barge sailing across the sea to France; meet Sebastien, in Mongolia, who sells books to herders of the Altai mountains; meet the bookshop in Canada that's invented the world's first antiquarian book vending machine. And that's just the beginning. From the oldest bookshop in the world, to the smallest you could imagine, The Bookshop Book examines the history of books, talks to authors about their favourite places, and looks at over three hundred weirdly wonderful bookshops across six continents (sadly, we've yet to build a bookshop down in the South Pole). The Bookshop Book is a love letter to bookshops all around the world. -- "A good bookshop is not just about selling books from shelves, but reaching out into the world and making a difference." David Almond (The Bookshop Book includes interviews and quotes from David Almond, Ian Rankin, Tracy Chevalier, Audrey Niffenegger, Jacqueline Wilson, Jeanette Winterson and many, many others.)
by David L. Ulin
About the book: An expansion of the author's Los Angeles Times essay explores the personal and cultural importance of reading in today's increasingly digital age, blending commentary with memoir to explain how the act of reading promotes engagement and mental freedom.
by Michael Dirda
About the book: A Pulitzer Prize-winning critic's often surprising meditation on those places where life and books intersect and what might be learned from both Once out of school, most of us read for pleasure. Yet there is another equally important, though often overlooked, reason that we read: to learn how to live. Though books have always been understood as life-teachers, the exact way in which they instruct, cajole, and convince remains a subject of some mystery. Drawing on sources as diverse as Dr. Seuss and Simone Weil, P. G. Wodehouse and Isaiah Berlin, Pulitzer prize-winning critic Michael Dirda shows how the wit, wisdom, and enchantment of the written word can inform and enrich nearly every aspect of life, from education and work to love and death. Organized by significant life events and abounding with quotations from great writers and thinkers, Book by Book showcases Dirda's considerable knowledge, which he wears lightly. Favoring showing rather than telling, Dirda draws the reader deeper into the classics, as well as lesser-known works of literature, history, and philosophy, always with an eye to what is relevant to how we might better understand our lives.
by Nicholas A. Basbanes
About the book: Inspired by a landmark exhibition mounted by the British Museum in 1963 to celebrate five eventful centuries of the printed word, Nicholas A. Basbanes offers a lively consideration of writings that have "made things happen" in the world, works that have both nudged the course of history and fired the imagination of countless influential people. In his fifth work to examine a specific aspect of book culture, Basbanes also asks what we can know about such figures as John Milton, Edward Gibbon, John Locke, Isaac Newton, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Adams, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Henry James, Thomas Edison, Helen Keller––even the notorious Marquis de Sade and Adolf Hitler––by knowing what they have read. He shows how books that many of these people have consulted, in some cases annotated with their marginal notes, can offer tantalizing clues to the evolution of their character and the development of their thought.
by Holbrook Jackson
About the book: Jackson inspects the allure of books, their curative and restorative properties, and the passion for them that leads to bibliomania ("a genial mania, less harmful than the sanity of the sane"). His commentary addresses why we read, where we read (on journeys, at mealtimes, on the toilet -- this has "a long but mostly unrecorded history"--In bed, and in prison), and what happens to us when we read. He touches on bindings, bookworms, libraries, and the sport of book hunting, as well as the behavior of borrowers, embezzlers, thieves, and collectors. Francis Bacon, Anatole France, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Leigh Hunt, Marcel Proust, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Shakespeare, and scores of other luminaries chime in on books and their love for them.