One for the BooksBook - 2012
Since Gutenberg first began moving type around five centuries ago, the book - one of the great achievements of human culture - has been subjected to any number of indignities, from being banned to being burned to being turned into a breathtaking quantity of unspeakably appalling movies. It has managed to survive all of these, only to find itself at the dawn of the twenty-first century facing the most radical challenge to its existence from the digital tsunami that has already left the tattered remains of the music business in its wake. As bookstores disappear and readers, apparently, along with them, alarmed bibliophiles everywhere can't help but wonder- Whither the book?
That question has been weighing heavily on one of America's great humorists, Joe Queenan, as he has recounted in a series of widely read New York Times Book Review pieces and in his critically acclaimed memoir Closing Time . Having first become a voracious reader as a means of escape from a joyless childhood in a Philadelphia housing project, he has since devoted himself to a lifelong defense of the book and merciless hounding of all the forces aligned to undermine it. One for the Books is Queenan's choleric survey of the landscape of reading today, from fervently dedicated booksellers to beleaguered libraries to the everyday dilemmas faced by the avid reader (borrowing and lending, the inability to finish certain books, rereading favourites, dealing with an increasingly elephantine collection). Queenan also embarks on a series of projects to come to terms with his own eccentric reading style, which involve gauging the number of titles he will have time to read in his lifespan, reading only short books, granting library books that are about to be disposed of a respite by being the first one in years to check them out, and finally confronting the fearsome leviathan of Middlemarch .
Acerbically funny, passionate, and oddly affectionate, One for the Books is a reading experience that true book lovers will find unforgettable (and a goad to reading even more).