Remarkable Reads: 34 Writers and Their Adventures in Reading - Ed. J. Peder Zane

As if my reading list didn't grow fast enough, I love to read books about books. The premise of Remarkable Reads is that each writer was to pick one book and one adjective to describe it, and then describe their experience of the book. The essays are arranged roughly chronologically based on the time in each writer's life when they encountered the book. Thus, The Cat in the Hat is the first book on the list (as the "most memorable" book).

Some of the writers are better at writing about books than others: when most of the essay consists of quotations, it hardly feels like they're trying. One author, Peggy Payne, cheats by writing about "the most seductive books" she read, choosing "literature about India" as her subject. Nonetheless, I was able to add a few books to my list, since of the 34 books on the list, I'd only read two or three myself. Jonathan Lethem wrote about The Happy Valley by Eric Berne as the "loneliest" book he'd read, meaning that he'd encountered very few people in his life who'd even heard of the book, let alone read it. But his description of it was so wonderful that I immediately ordered a copy online.

J. Peder Zane, the editor, is a reviewer for the Raleigh News & Observer, and the essays were originally published as a column in the paper. So most of the writers are somehow related to North Carolina and I hadn't heard of most of them. What I'd really like to see is a book of this sort written by my favorite authors: that would be a remarkable read.

Fed to jonathan's brain | April 12, 2005 | Comments (0)


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