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For the Love of Books: 115 Celebrated Writers on the Books They Love Most

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More than 100 distinguished writers share their personal thoughts in response to the question: What books have left the greatest impression on you and why? "Certainly the most entertaining literary companion . . . quite irresistible."--"Washington Post Book World." More than 100 distinguished writers share their personal thoughts in response to the question: What books have left the greatest impression on you and why? "Certainly the most entertaining literary companion . . . quite irresistible."--"Washington Post Book World."


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More than 100 distinguished writers share their personal thoughts in response to the question: What books have left the greatest impression on you and why? "Certainly the most entertaining literary companion . . . quite irresistible."--"Washington Post Book World." More than 100 distinguished writers share their personal thoughts in response to the question: What books have left the greatest impression on you and why? "Certainly the most entertaining literary companion . . . quite irresistible."--"Washington Post Book World."

30 review for For the Love of Books: 115 Celebrated Writers on the Books They Love Most

  1. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    This book is not for the casual reader. However, if you are someone who obsesses over what to read next, authors' lives, styles of writing, and consistently have a stack of books to be read by your bed, this book is for you. It's a fascinating glimpse of why authors love their favorite books (and even more interesting when one author heralds a book as life-changing, then a few pages later, a different author dismisses it as trash!) It's also amazing the caliber of authors Mr. Shwartz has gathere This book is not for the casual reader. However, if you are someone who obsesses over what to read next, authors' lives, styles of writing, and consistently have a stack of books to be read by your bed, this book is for you. It's a fascinating glimpse of why authors love their favorite books (and even more interesting when one author heralds a book as life-changing, then a few pages later, a different author dismisses it as trash!) It's also amazing the caliber of authors Mr. Shwartz has gathered to contribute--Kurt Vonnegut, Robert M. Pirsing, John Irving, John Updike, etc. I have read a handful of books like these and more often than the names are not too recognizible even to the most devoted reader. He must have had some clout! The great thing about this is not only the long-imagined glimpse into our favorite writers' minds, but the fact that you can keep this book on your shelf and use it as a reference for what to read next for YEARS to come. You may flip to Anna Quindlen and be inspired by her descriptions to read all of her favorites! Or you may be amazed to find an author you never heard of who loves the same books you do---therefore you go and search out all of said author's books, knowing you will likely enjoy them. The bibliography in the back is also very helpful. One warning though: Many of the authors' picks are more often than not classics and pretty high-brow, at times difficult books to read (after all, many of the contributors have scholarly backgrounds). Some of their opinions are also based on very in-depth observations of style of writing and word choice rather than the book being a page-turner or an relatable story. If you consider yourself a bibliophile but are into more contempary books, there are other books similar to this that may reccommend slightly lighter, more varied reading. I would reccommend Book Lust and More Book Lust by Nancy Pearl, So Many Books, So Little Time by Sarah Nelson, and How Reading Changed my Life by Anna Quindlen, to name a few.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Aloha

    Joseph McElroy recommended this book since I'm interested in influences and processes. It contained three short pieces by him on books he love: On the Genealogy of Morals Space, Time and Architecture: The Growth of a New Tradition My Past and Thoughts: The Memoirs of Alexander Herzen He said in particular the Giedion was influential "leading to a Japanese expression at the end which is exactly to the point of what you say." I ordered the Giedion to see what he's talking about. Joseph McElroy recommended this book since I'm interested in influences and processes. It contained three short pieces by him on books he love: On the Genealogy of Morals Space, Time and Architecture: The Growth of a New Tradition My Past and Thoughts: The Memoirs of Alexander Herzen He said in particular the Giedion was influential "leading to a Japanese expression at the end which is exactly to the point of what you say." I ordered the Giedion to see what he's talking about.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    When you love books, like I do, one of the things we book lovers seem to love is to read about what books other books lovers love to read. Browsable fun.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    This was a good browsing book for me. It was definitely not meant for casual readers and had a lot of incredibly well read authors’ suggestions; many were new to me. I did enjoy reading how books I love had impacted them also and I added a few books to my TBR list.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Polack

    I loved this book. It is brilliant. 115 prominent writers were kind enough to tell us about the three to six books they love the most. The insights are astonishing. Although their choices may overlap a little, their reasons are distinct. It also works as a spur to read books I didn't know about or have inadvertently neglected. I loved this book. It is brilliant. 115 prominent writers were kind enough to tell us about the three to six books they love the most. The insights are astonishing. Although their choices may overlap a little, their reasons are distinct. It also works as a spur to read books I didn't know about or have inadvertently neglected.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sherilyn

    This book was educational, informative, and interesting. I enjoyed reading the descriptions that writers, some whom I admire, others whom I don't know, wrote of their favorite books, many their most impressionable books from childhood. l got insight into much literature I hope to explore in the future. This book was educational, informative, and interesting. I enjoyed reading the descriptions that writers, some whom I admire, others whom I don't know, wrote of their favorite books, many their most impressionable books from childhood. l got insight into much literature I hope to explore in the future.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christine Jeffords

    An interesting--if perhaps not always believable (have all these people *really* read "Moby Dick" and Proust??)--look at what bo0ks "influenced" a list of notable modern writers. Caution: the index is really nowhere near complete. An interesting--if perhaps not always believable (have all these people *really* read "Moby Dick" and Proust??)--look at what bo0ks "influenced" a list of notable modern writers. Caution: the index is really nowhere near complete.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Loved this book, it gave me a long list of more great books to read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Susan Dietz

    Fun to browse.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    Books about books.....and writers......and some of their favorite books. What is not to love here!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Steven Belanger

    The premise of this book: The editor, Ronald B. Shwartz, sent a message to 115 authors, asking them to respond via letter or phone. His prompt: "Identify those 3-6 books that have in some way influenced or affected you most deeply, 'spoken to' you the loudest, and explain why--in personal terms. All books, whether 'Great Books' or not-so-great books--books of any kind, genre, period--are fair game." Many greats--in literature, the arts, the sciences--responded. Kurt Vonnegut's was the most memora The premise of this book: The editor, Ronald B. Shwartz, sent a message to 115 authors, asking them to respond via letter or phone. His prompt: "Identify those 3-6 books that have in some way influenced or affected you most deeply, 'spoken to' you the loudest, and explain why--in personal terms. All books, whether 'Great Books' or not-so-great books--books of any kind, genre, period--are fair game." Many greats--in literature, the arts, the sciences--responded. Kurt Vonnegut's was the most memorable to me, but here also are Russell Banks, Dave Barry, Art Buchwald, Jonathan Harr, John Hawkes, John Irving, Susanna Kaysen, W.P. Kinsella, Caroline Knapp, Elmore Leonard, Doris Lessing, Norman Mailer, Frank McCourt, Arthur Miller, Joyce Carol Oates, Grace Paley, Robert B. Parker, Robert Pirsig, Mario Puzo, Neil Simon, Oliver Stone (Did anyone know that he published a novel awhile ago? Has anyone read it?), William Styron, Gay Talese, John Updike, and Geoffrey and Tobias Wolff--just to name a few. Which titles were mentioned the most? Surprisingly--to me, anyway--the title mentioned the most, by far, was Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. It was not close. The others, in order: Moby-Dick by Herman Mellville The Bible The Brothers Karamazov by Leo Tolstoy (or Tolstoi, which I prefer, as a T206 fanatic) Ulysses by James Joyce War and Peace by Leo Tolstoi The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger William Shakespeare's Collected Works The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain Most of the selections were idiosyncratic, but there were still a few Hemingways, Austins, and others in there. Most books we've heard of before were mentioned two or three times. Those in the list above were mentioned at least six times, at most ten times. But it was an interesting read, and not very taxing. It didn't take a lot out of me, which is good, since I've had a headache to drive me insane for the past week or so. Highly recommended, if you're curious at all about what made an impression on these writers--and why.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    I'm so relieved to say I enjoyed this book. A couple months ago I picked up a different book that on the surface seemed to promise everything this book promised: a bunch of authors talking about the books they love and why they love them. Instead, that other book was like a long sales pitch from authors who spent more time talking about their own greatness than the work of any other person. Blech. Fortunately, this book delivered EXACTLY what it should have. In every author's response, you could I'm so relieved to say I enjoyed this book. A couple months ago I picked up a different book that on the surface seemed to promise everything this book promised: a bunch of authors talking about the books they love and why they love them. Instead, that other book was like a long sales pitch from authors who spent more time talking about their own greatness than the work of any other person. Blech. Fortunately, this book delivered EXACTLY what it should have. In every author's response, you could FEEL the passion they have for good books, quality writing, strong authors. Often while reading I would grab a pen to jot down a book I was going to look up later. Standing alone this book easily would have achieved 4 stars but it gets the 5th from me because I can't tell you how many other books claim to give this material ("a book from authors about great books!") and instead veer off into sales pitches or self-focused ramblings about their own style or work. Finally, I just want to mention that I read this book in the worst possible way, by cramming it all into a short time span. Since every couple of pages is a new author and a new list, this book is probably best enjoyed in short spurts. After a couple hundred pages of these 2-3 page responses, it started to feel a tiny bit like a long laundry list where responses would blur into one another. That's not the fault of the book at all, it's a consequence of me setting out to read the whole thing in a short time.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Sammis

    For the Love of Books is a collection of 115 essays on the books that have made life time impressions. They are written by authors asked (and sometimes pestered) by Ronald B. Shwartz to talk on the books that inspired them to become writers. It's pretty obvious which authors were pestered and which ones responded eagerly. There's a lot of antagonism in many of the authors. I skimmed through most of these reluctant answers. Among the responses, Dave Barry's was my favorite. He was clearly one of th For the Love of Books is a collection of 115 essays on the books that have made life time impressions. They are written by authors asked (and sometimes pestered) by Ronald B. Shwartz to talk on the books that inspired them to become writers. It's pretty obvious which authors were pestered and which ones responded eagerly. There's a lot of antagonism in many of the authors. I skimmed through most of these reluctant answers. Among the responses, Dave Barry's was my favorite. He was clearly one of the eager participants. His response also seemed to most genuine. He starts his list of with silly things like the Archie and Batman comics. From there he moves on to other favorites: Catcher in the Rye and Catch-22. From there he and I part ways in our reading tastes but I may have to go back and read his recommendations based the first half of his essay. In the back of For the Love of Books is an extensive bibliography of the books described by one or more of the authors. Ronald Shwartz estimates the list at five hundred books. Among the most frequently mentioned are the King James Bible, the Torah, Moby Dick, Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby and the works of Charles Dickens.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    From my blog: I'm really enjoying the informality - the way each contributor has his or her own voice - how we find out not only the works that are supposed to matter but also the ridiculous ones that only matter on an individual level. Anthony Lane, for example, cites Richard Scarry's Busy Busy World as "a resourceful tour d'horizon whose cosmopolitan principles reverberate in my mind even now. I cling fast to the belief, for instance, that the benign thieves of Paris invariably hide from the po From my blog: I'm really enjoying the informality - the way each contributor has his or her own voice - how we find out not only the works that are supposed to matter but also the ridiculous ones that only matter on an individual level. Anthony Lane, for example, cites Richard Scarry's Busy Busy World as "a resourceful tour d'horizon whose cosmopolitan principles reverberate in my mind even now. I cling fast to the belief, for instance, that the benign thieves of Paris invariably hide from the police in tureens of green soup, that the ghosts who float through Danish castles are obliged to wash their sheets in the laundry, and that the present unrest in Algeria could be peacefully solved by Couscous, the famous detective ("My! That Couscous is a clever fellow.")" And I'm in love. :)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Erin WV

    A fun read for bibliophiles of all kinds, this book is a series of first-person accounts from (then-)living writers discussing the books that delighted, challenged, and inspired them. Shwartz seems to have distributed a questionnaire to the participating writers, and some meet the bare minimum--naming and briefly describing the five books that form the foundation of their literary past--while other writers go all out, refusing to choose only five, or waxing nostalgic about sneaking grown-up book A fun read for bibliophiles of all kinds, this book is a series of first-person accounts from (then-)living writers discussing the books that delighted, challenged, and inspired them. Shwartz seems to have distributed a questionnaire to the participating writers, and some meet the bare minimum--naming and briefly describing the five books that form the foundation of their literary past--while other writers go all out, refusing to choose only five, or waxing nostalgic about sneaking grown-up books off Dad's or Grandma's shelves, or tracing for us a clear path directly from something they read to something they eventually wrote. Some freely ramble: I particularly remember the accounts by Dave Barry and Frank McCourt as free-wheeling stream-of-consciousness book chats. It's great for reading recommendations--I know I stepped away from this book with my TBR list significantly swelled--but also just to pull off the shelves for five minutes' worth of entertainment.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Helena

    I'll be honest, I skipped around, reading the essays that interested me. I particularly enjoyed those by Anne Fadiman and her father Clifton Fadiman (as the editor notes, this is the first and only time the two have appeared together in print) and also Anna Quindlan's contribution--she talks about inhabiting books instead of simply reading them, which is exactly how I feel about certain books--and she describes the phenomenon much better than I ever could. I'll be honest, I skipped around, reading the essays that interested me. I particularly enjoyed those by Anne Fadiman and her father Clifton Fadiman (as the editor notes, this is the first and only time the two have appeared together in print) and also Anna Quindlan's contribution--she talks about inhabiting books instead of simply reading them, which is exactly how I feel about certain books--and she describes the phenomenon much better than I ever could.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Marla Glenn

    I have the most in common with Rita Dove.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie Jeanne

    For the Love of Books: 115 Celebrated Writers on the Books They Love Most by Various (2000)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    More high-brow than I expected, what with the near-constant worship of Joyce and Proust. I wonder how a follow-up sampling of younger writers would turn out.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    Good. Gave me a lot of books to add to my list.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Naomi

    An enjoyable read. I am so far behind on reading the great, classics that have stood the test of time. My to read list grew by pages while reading this.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Meridith

    I mark up books like these, adding reminders for my ever growing wish list.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    I have a thing for books about books.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dan Piette

    Essays by famous writers. Poorly editied

  25. 5 out of 5

    Roy

    Interest set of short essays from famous authors about famous (mostly) authors.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rae

    A bunch of fairly well-known writers were asked what books influenced their lives the most. The results run the whole gamut...from Harold and the Purple Crayon to Ulysses.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Thekeres

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mohosana mohosanakatun mohosanakatun

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nel

  30. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne Teague

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