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Browsings : a year of reading, collecting, and living with books
2015
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Genre
NonFiction
Collection
Essay
Literary
Topics
Books and reading
Book collecting
Literary critics
Essayists
Time Period
-- 21st century
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Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and Washington Post book columnist Dirda (An Open Book) offers another installment of his book musings with this collection of columns originally written for the online American Scholar between 2012 and 2013. Focused on the pleasures of books and reading, Dirda rejects academic didacticism in favor of breezy, conversational essays. Funny and obsessive, he meditates on his most beloved and underappreciated authors and genres-especially mystery, sf, and adventure-as well as his exploits at several book-themed conferences and conventions. He reminisces about his favorite bookshops, book dealers, and acquisitions, and laments again and again the lack of shelf space at his home in Silver Spring, MD. But beyond bibliophilism, this is a work about how reading stories builds relationships-between readers and writers and between readers and readers-and how these relationships change and shape one's life. Dirda's story is a testament to his origins in the steel town of Lorain, OH. VERDICT Although Dirda recommends reading only two or three of his pieces at a time, his exuberance is infectious, and the book is hard to put down. Clearly this author recognizes that the most important quality of a book is the pleasure it gives.-Meagan Lacy, Guttman Community Coll., CUNY © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

The columns collected in this volume-all originally posted to the American Scholar's home page in 2012 and 2013-make up a valentine to people who love reading and books. Washington Post book critic Dirda, a self-described "bookish literary journalist," channels his passion for reading and collecting books into "essays, meditations, and rants" touching on a wide variety of literary topics: famous pets in fiction, Shelley's poetry, Poe and Baudelaire, and the legacy of Dover Books, among others. Several pieces describe his excursions to used bookstores and library book sales, where acquisitions serve as madeleines, prompting reminiscences about fellow book collectors, forgotten classics, and underappreciated writers. Some of the essays stray far from the world of books-for example, a nightmarish vacation trip to a Colorado state park and a weeklong power blackout at the height of summer-but their literary allusions show how reading invariably seeps into all aspects of a book-lover's life. Dirda is gently self-deprecating about his writing and enthusiasms, but his humility is contradicted by his huge roster of literary acquaintances, vast knowledge of both popular and literary fiction, and omnivorous tastes as a reader. Agent: Lynn Chu, Writers' Representatives. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
Michael Dirda has been hailed as "the best-read person in America" (The Paris Review) and "the best book critic in America" (The New York Observer). In addition to the Pulitzer Prize he was awarded for his reviews in The Washington Post, he picked up an Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America for his most recent book, On Conan Doyle. <p>Dirda's latest volume collects fifty of his witty and wide-ranging reflections on literary journalism, book collecting, and the writers he loves. Reaching from the classics to the post-moderns, his allusions dance from Samuel Johnson, Ralph Waldo Emerson and M. F. K. Fisher to Marilynne Robinson, Hunter S. Thompson, and David Foster Wallace. Dirda's topics are equally diverse: literary pets, the lost art of cursive writing, book inscriptions, the pleasures of science fiction conventions, author photographs, novelists in old age, Oberlin College, a year in Marseille, writer's block, and much more, not to overlook a few rants about Washington life and American culture. As admirers of his earlier books will expect, there are annotated lists galore--of perfect book titles, great adventure novels, favorite words, essential books about books, and beloved children's classics, as well as a revealing peek at the titles Michael keeps on his own nightstand.</p> Funny and erudite, occasionally poignant or angry, Browsings is a celebration of the reading life, a fan's notes, and the perfect gift for any booklover.
Table of Contents
Introductionp. ix
Mr. Zinsser, I Presumep. 1
Style Is the Manp. 5
Armchair Adventuresp. 9
Bookish Petsp. 13
Paperp. 17
This Is a Columnp. 21
Scribble, Scribblep. 25
Books on Booksp. 29
Text Messp. 33
Twilight of an Authorp. 37
Spring Book Salesp. 41
Memories of Marseillep. 45
Hail to Thee, Blithe Spirit!p. 49
Synonym Toastp. 53
Cowboys and Clubmenp. 57
Gradesp. 61
Anglophiliap. 65
After the Golden Agep. 69
Anthologies and Collectionsp. 73
Rocky Mountain Lowp. 77
The Fugitivep. 83
Hot Enough for You?p. 87
Wonder Booksp. 91
Readerconp. 99
Aurorap. 105
Out of Printp. 109
Thrift Storiesp. 113
Musical Chairsp. 117
The Evidence in the (Book) Casep. 121
Charlottesvillep. 127
Then and Nowp. 131
Mencken Dayp. 135
New and Oldp. 139
Dirty Picturesp. 145
Going, Going, Gonep. 149
Castles in Spacep. 153
Waving, Not Drowningp. 157
Oberlinp. 161
Jacques Barzun-and Othersp. 167
What's in a Name?p. 171
Language Mattersp. 175
"I'm Done"p. 179
Poe and Baudelairep. 183
In Praise of Small Pressesp. 187
Christmas Readingp. 193
Books for the Holidaysp. 197
Let Us Now Praise Dover Booksp. 203
A Dreamer's Talep. 209
Moneyp. 215
Book Projectsp. 219
Ending Upp. 225
A Positively, Final Appearancep. 231
Afterwordp. 235
Biographical Notep. 243
Acknowledgmentsp. 245
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