Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A couple of books about reading books.

A book about reading books. I wasn’t sure if I would like it, as far as entertainment value or useful information, but I saw it on the library shelf and thought I’d give it a turn.

Sara Nelson, author of So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading, is a publishing correspondent; her work is books. But she also loves to read. As she says, “Books get to me personally. When things go right, I read. When things go wrong, I read more.” Sara decided to read a book a week for one year. That doesn’t sound very hard, does it? She chronicles her ups and downs, including the list of books she read, as well as the books she intended to read.

Some of the books I haven’t and probably won’t ever read, but I was entertained with her journey.

Now, another book about reading books. This one is Book Smart: Your Essential Reading List for Becoming a Literary Genius in 365 Days. How could I resist that title? Author Jane Mallison categorizes 120 books into the 12 months of the year, each with its own theme, and 10 books in each month. January is “Because They Are There: Towering Works to Read in Translation” and includes such old standards as Don Quixote, Dante’s Inferno, Homer’s The Odyssey, etc.

Other months include: “Growing Up: The Pains and the Pleasures” which includes some of my favorites; Little Women, To Kill a Mockingbird, and one that I’m reading right now, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. “Jury Duty: Crimes of Various Sorts” with Crime and Punishment, The Scarlet Letter, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Though Jane Mollison neglects to include anything by Jane Austen and George Eliot on April’s Top Girls: Strong Women, Admirably So and Otherwise list, she redeems herself by adding in the chapter preface that she regards them as she regards Shakespeare and the Bible, the importance of reading them is too obvious to list.

Now, there is no way that I could read 120 books in a year unless the majority of them were powder puff reads, but I really enjoyed reading the back stories or blurbs that Jane Mollison writes about each book included on her list. I’ve added a few more from “Book Smart” to my to-read list.

If I had to choose between these two books, I would definitely read Book Smart. It's more about the books themselves, and So Many Books… about the author’s own experience.

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