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Bibliophilic Book Challenge: So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson

"Explaining the moment of connection between a reader and a book to someone who‘s never experienced it is like trying to explain sex to a virgin."
Sara Nelson on the phenomenon when a reader gets sucked into the book.

Bibliophilic book number 11. Only one to go. Not that I‘m counting ;-)

Year published:2003
Genre: Memoir

At the end of 2001, Sara Nelson decided to set herself a reading challenge, a simple book-a-week affair for one year, and keep a diary about it. The result was this book, which most readers should be able to, on some level, to enjoy. Although she is a seasoned, professional writer of book reviews, this is not a collection of reviews or even of literary theory or analysis, but more of a meditation on and a revelling in different aspects of reading, interspersed with snippets of information about whichever book she was reading at the time each essay was written.

She covers issues most readers will be familiar with, like trying to turn a non-reader into a reader, trying to raise a reader, the dangers of reading books recommended by friends and reviewing books by relatives, reading multiple books at a time, falling in love with an author, lending books, not wanting to follow the herd where best-sellers are concerned, and more.

This is not a flawless book, but enjoyable nonetheless. One of its faults is snobbery. It’s not widespread, but it’s there, for an example in the way romances published by a certain publishing giant are summarily dismissed as the lowest of the low, but weighing up against it is her frank admission that she simply doesn’t like some of the most critically well-received novels of the years before writing the book. I would have accepted her dismissal of romance novels as a simple matter of taste if she had rationalised it as eloquently as she did her dislike of the aforementioned critical successes, but she didn’t.

Another fault - more a sin, if you want my opinion - is that on a couple of occasions Nelson gives away the ending of books without indicating she is about to do so. Clearly someone forgot to hand her the memo about giving fair warning before giving away the ending if you want to stay in your readers' good books. Fortunately neither is a book I particularly want to read, but I have been enraged when I have come across and accidentally read such spoilers for books on my TBR list, so this big no-no still counts as a minus point.

As you may have noticed, this is an eminently quotable book – I have already given one quotation in a separate post, one in a reply to a comment and one at the beginning of his review, and I think I will end with one as well. But first the rating: A highly enjoyable book about the joys and pitfalls of reading. 4 stars.

"We’re a funny, cliquish group, we book people, and sometimes we resist liking—or even resist opening—the very thing everybody tells us we’re supposed to like."
Sara Nelson on her and some other readers' relationship with best-sellers and other "oh-my-God-you-must-read-this" books.


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