Cover image for By the book : writers on literature and the literary life from The New York Times Book Review
Title:
By the book : writers on literature and the literary life from The New York Times Book Review
Author:
Paul, Pamela, editor.
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, New York : Henry Holt and Company, 2014.
Physical Description:
xix, 314 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Summary:
"Sixty-five of the world's leading writers open up about the books and authors that have meant the most to them. These wide-ranging interviews are conducted by Pamela Paul, the editor of the The New York Times Book Review, featuring personalities as varied as David Sedaris, Hilary Mantel, Michael Chabon, Khaled Hosseini, Anne Lamott, and James Patterson. These questions and answers admit us into the private worlds of these authors, as they reflect on their work habits, reading preferences, inspirations, pet peeves, and recommendations.By the Book contains the full uncut interviews, reflecting a range of experiences and observations that deepens readers' understanding of the literary sensibility and the writing process." --
General Note:
"A New York Times book"

Includes index.
Language:
English
Contents:
David Sedaris -- Lena Dunham -- Neil Gaiman -- Mary Higgins Clark -- Drew Gilpin Faust -- Carl Hiaasen -- John Irving -- Elizabeth Gilbert -- Richard Ford -- Colin Powell -- Dave Eggers -- Sylvia Nasar -- Ira Glass -- Junot Díaz -- Joyce Carol Oates -- Nicholson Baker -- Emma Thompson -- Michael Chabon -- Jeffrey Eugenides -- J.K. Rowling -- David Mitchell -- John Grisham -- P.J. O'Rourke -- Anne Lamott -- Ian McEwan -- Lee Child -- Arnold Schwarzenegger -- Francine Prose -- Jared Diamond -- Alain de Botton -- Dave Barry -- Katherine Boo -- Marilynne Robinson -- Sheryl Sandberg -- Caroline Kennedy -- Isabel Allende -- Anna Quindlen -- Jonathan Franzen -- Hilary Mantel -- Walter Mosley -- Khaled Hosseini -- Jeannette Walls -- Dan Brown -- Dan Savage -- Christopher Buckley -- Curtis Sittenfeld -- James McBride -- James Patterson -- Jonathan Lethem -- Jhumpa Lahiri -- Richard Dawkins -- Sting -- Andrew Solomon -- Malcolm Gladwell -- Scott Turow -- Donna Tartt -- Ann Patchett -- Amy Tan -- Bryan Cranston -- Michael Connelly -- Neil DeGrasse Tyson -- E.L. Doctorow -- Chang-Rae Lee -- Gary Shteyngart -- Rachel Kushner.
Added Uniform Title:
New York Times book review.
ISBN:
9781627791458
Format :
Book

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Central Library PN452 .B9 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary


Sixty-five of the world's leading writers open up about the books and authors that have meant the most to them

Every Sunday, readers of The New York Times Book Review turn with anticipation to see which novelist, historian, short story writer, or artist will be the subject of the popular By the Book feature. These wide-ranging interviews are conducted by Pamela Paul, the editor of the Book Review, and here she brings together sixty-five of the most intriguing and fascinating exchanges, featuring personalities as varied as David Sedaris, Hilary Mantel, Michael Chabon, Khaled Hosseini, Anne Lamott, and James Patterson. The questions and answers admit us into the private worlds of these authors, as they reflect on their work habits, reading preferences, inspirations, pet peeves, and recommendations.

By the Book contains the full uncut interviews, offering a range of experiences and observations that deepens readers' understanding of the literary sensibility and the writing process. It also features dozens of sidebars that reveal the commonalities and conflicts among the participants, underscoring those influences that are truly universal and those that remain matters of individual taste.

For the devoted reader, By the Book is a way to invite sixty-five of the most interesting guests into your world. It's a book party not to be missed.


Author Notes


Pamela Paul is the editor of The New York Times Book Review and the author of Parenting, Inc. , Pornified , and The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony . Prior to joining the Times , Paul was a contributor to Time magazine and The Economist , and her work has appeared in The Atlantic , The Washington Post , and Vogue . She and her family live in New York.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The popular By the Book column in the New York Times Book Review was Paul's idea before she took the NYTBR editorial helm, and now that she's gathered 65 of these irresistible interviews together in a book, they've gained magnetism and synergy. Here are exchanges with significant writers and such passionate readers as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and musician Sting. Though each interview is specific to the interviewee, Paul discovered that recurring questions yield intriguing results. If you could meet any author, dead or alive, who would it be?, for example, inspired David Sedaris to name Flannery O'Connor, Donna Tartt to pick Oscar Wilde, Amy Tan to choose Emily Dickinson, both Isabel Allende and John Grisham to designate Mark Twain, and Malcolm Gladwell to respond, Shakespeare's wife, of course. Paul also asked writers to identify books that inspired them to write and to share titles they were currently reading, queries that generate remarkable recommendations. This is a book lover's guilty pleasure, in which bookish fun is matched by substantial discussion, including those with E. L. Doctorow and Chang-rae Lee.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

In By the Book interviews collected by New York Times Book Review editor Paul (Parenting, Inc.), 65 writers-including Junot Diaz, Lena Dunham, Colin Powell, Anne Lamott, and Khaled Hosseini-discuss books they've found inspiring or terrible, as well as their reading habits and recommendations. The variety of responses and respondents make for a captivating hodgepodge of literary musings, with illustrations provided by Jillian Tamaki. Gems include Neil Gaiman's plug for Harry Stephen Keeler (the "greatest bad writer America has ever produced"), and John Grisham's recommendation that President Obama read Fifty Shades of Grey, because "Why should he miss all the fun?" Authors speak to and about one another across the pages: Malcolm Gladwell and Dave Barry sing the praises of Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels, and Colin Powell and Arnold Schwarzenegger both admire J.K. Rowling's success. (For those truly dedicated to literary socializing, Gary Shteyngart lists over 40 of his favorite authors' Twitter handles.) Sidebars throughout feature excerpted responses from multiple authors on the same questions, and, while this creates an unfortunate sense of deja vu upon encountering the same material in the full interviews, it's illuminating to see what these writers consider "guilty pleasure" reading, or discover that very few actually get Ulysses. 65 line drawings. Agent: Lydia Willis, Lydia Wills LLC. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Starred Review. Paul, editor of the New York Times Book Review, conducted these interviews with authors, performers, and thinkers for the Review's recurring By the Book feature. Collected are 65 of them, with personalities ranging from David Sedaris, Neil Gaiman, and Lee Child to Christopher Buckley, Sting, Ira Glass, and Bryan Cranston. Some of the questions are the same from interview to interview (e.g., favorite book as a child, currently reading, etc.), which allows one to compare apples to apples, while other inquiries are tailored more specifically to the work of the interview subject. The effect is like being at a very well-attended cocktail party, or peeking onto the nightstand of a favorite author. While there are many compendiums of writers' thoughts, such as My Bookstore edited by Ronald Rice, and several of them follow this idea of asking writers to contribute a piece on a specific topic, few cover as much ground as this volume. VERDICT At times delightful and always entertaining, this book can be taken in large gulps, or small sips. Reading it will surely result in a monstrous and fascinating reading list. [See "Editors' Fall Picks," p. 24, LJ 9/1/14.]-Linda White, Maplewood, MN (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Introduction by Pamela Paul We all want to know what other people are reading. We peer at strangers' book covers on an airplane and lean over their e-books on the subway. We squint at the iPhone of the person standing in front of us in the elevator. We scan bestseller lists and customer reviews and online social reading sites. Asking someone what she's read lately is an easy conversational gambit--and the answer is almost bound to be more interesting than the weather. It also serves an actual purpose: we may find out about something we want to read ourselves. When I launched By the Book in The New York Times Book Review , it was an effort to satisfy my own genuine, insatiable desire to know what others--smart people, well-read people, people who are good writers themselves--were reading in their spare time. The idea was to stimulate a conversation over books, but one that took place at a more exalted level than the average watercooler chat. That meant starting big, and for me that meant David Sedaris. Who wouldn't want to know which books he thinks are funny? Or touching or sad or just plain good? In coming up with the questions for David Sedaris, and then for those who followed, I decided to keep some consistent--What book would you recommend to the president to read?--while others would come and go. If you're going to find out what books John Grisham likes, you've got to ask about legal thrillers. When talking to P. J. O'Rourke, you want to know about satire. Similarly, the range of writers for By the Book had to sweep wide, to include relative unknowns and new voices alongside the James Pattersons and Mary Higgins Clarks. That meant poets and short story writers and authors of mass market fiction. And while the most obvious, and often most desirable, participants would be authors themselves, I didn't want to limit the conversation to book people. For that reason, I went to Lena Dunham (not an author at the time) next. I asked musicians like Pete Townshend and Sting, scientists and actors, the president of Harvard, and even an astrophysicist. Cross-pollination between the arts--and the sciences--is something many of us haven't experienced since our college days, and I wanted to evoke some of that excitement of unexpected discovery--in the subjects, in the questions, and in the answers. Once the ball got rolling, an unexpected discovery on my part was the full-throttle admiration our most respected public figures have for one another. Colin Powell marveled over J. K. Rowling's ability to endure the spotlight. Michael Chabon, Jeffrey Eugenides, and Donna Tartt were all consumed by the Patrick Melrose novels of Edward St. Aubyn. (He, in turn, was reading Alice Munro.) Writer after writer extolled the reportorial prowess of Katherine Boo. And then Boo, who told me she read the column religiously, praised Junot Díaz and George Saunders and Cheryl Strayed when it was her turn. When I'd meet writers at book parties or literary lunches, they'd thrill over what other By the Book subjects had said about their work. In her interview, Donna Tartt told me how much she looked forward to reading Stephen King's new novel--before he'd raved about The Goldfinch on our cover. In a world that can feel beset by cynicism, envy, and negative reviews, By the Book has become a place for accomplished peers to express appreciation for one another's art. Then there are the humanizing foibles. The books we never finished or are embarrassed never to have picked up, the books we hated, the books we threw across the room. It's not just us. Many writers confess here to unorthodox indulgences (Hilary Mantel adores self-help books) and "failures" of personal taste (neither Richard Ford nor Ian McEwan has much patience for Ulysses ). Reading the interviews gathered together for the first time, I found myself flipping back and forth between pages, following one author to another, from one writer's recommendation to another's explication of plot, like browsing an endlessly varied, annotated home library in the company of thoughtful and erudite friends. I learned about mutual loves, disagreements, surprise recommendations, unexpected new voices, forgotten classics. Let the conversation begin. Copyright © 2014 by Pamela Paul Excerpted from By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from the New York Times Book Review All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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