From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
For-the-love-of-books anthologies work like catnip on ardent readers and those who advise them, and what fun it is to discover which books writers love. Connecticut bookseller Coady, who believes so deeply in the power of books that she established the nonprofit Read to Grow Foundation (which book proceeds will support) to promote literacy and the joy of reading, takes a refreshingly populist approach in this collection of 71 lively favorite-book essays. Children's book creator Tomie dePaola reveals his passion for Kristin Lavransdatter. Literary scholar Harold Bloom confesses his delight in the fantasy novel Little, Big. Elizabeth Berg and Alice Hoffman describe revelations sparked by Catcher in the Rye. Crime writer Patricia Cornwell discloses her fascination with Uncle Tom's Cabin, and her familial connection to Harriet Beecher Stowe, while Carol Higgins Clark names an early book by her mother, Mary Higgins Clark. Here, too, are historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and David -Halberstam, all testifying to the transformative power of books and adding fresh titles to readers' to-read lists. --Donna Seaman Copyright 2006 Booklist
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This reviewer is downright nosy when it comes to learning what people are reading. If you also share the trait of asking virtual strangers, "What have you been reading lately?" and then listening intently, following up with questions, and possibly pulling out an old pay stub to jot down their response, is this ever the book for you. Bookseller Coady and editor Johannessen have a mission: to elicit the personal recollections of famous people in various walks of life-writers, actors, chefs, politicians-and find out what qualifies as "the book that changed [their] life." Together, the two have compiled a wonderful cross section of contributors and a wildly diverse group of books. From the Bible (Sen. Joseph Lieberman) to To Kill a Mockingbird (author Wally Lamb), the contents of this book will encourage quick perusal, a checking of titles, or the generation of a must-read list. Most moving are the recollections of books that "saved" someone and made him or her feel less alone or less strange (e.g., book critic Maureen Corrigan on David Copperfield). With a handy reading list that includes title, author, and contributor and all proceeds going to the Read to Grow Foundation (www.readtogrow.org), this book is recommended for most collections.-Jan Brue Enright, Augustana Coll. Lib., Sioux Falls, SD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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As a teenager in a Parisian expatriate's bookstore, James Atlas found Gwendolyn Brooks's Selected Poems and realized that "poetry could emerge out of the geography of your own experience." Jacquelyn Mitchard named a baby after the struggling heroine of Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged "jarred" Nelson Demille into "thinking outside the box"; Michael Stern was transported to unknown worlds by the Sears catalogue; while Sen. Joe Lieberman, an observant Jew, was molded by the Bible. In this uneven collection of often predictable musings about their favorite books by a catchall of writers (including PW's editor, Sara Nelson), one of the few standouts is by Frank McCourt, who tastes a line from Shakespeare's Henry VIII when he's a 10-year-old typhoid patient and remembers "it's like having jewels in my mouth when I say the words." Unfortunately, by stuffing 71 writers into a slim volume, bookseller Coady and editor Johannessen all but ensure prosaic snippets of random thoughts rather than developed essays. The format also allows for repetition (J.D. Salinger; Harper Lee) and self-promotion (Carol Higgins Clark's inspiration was her famous mother; Anita Diamant showboats about her own novel The Red Tent in a piece about Virginia Woolf). (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved