Do you love to read? Is your idea of a great time curling up in bed with an awesome book? Well, those who write tend to agree.
If there’s anything writers like to do when they aren’t writing, it’s read. After all, the world of books is home to a writer, the place where their thoughts and imaginations live. Here are three famous writers who have written books on how much they loved to read:
Larry McMurtry, author of such well loved novels as The Last Picture Show and Pulitzer Prize winning Lonesome Dove has long been known as a book lover and collector. The writer owns some 28,000 books on his own and is owner of a 5-building bookstore in Texas that is home to 300,000 more. Strange then that McMurtry’s early years were lived in a bookless world.
Books: A Memoir begins with McMurtry’s boyhood in Archer City, TX, during which the future writer had no access to books until, by chance, a cousin heading off to the war gave him a stack of adventure novels. The gift lit up the young boy’s life, setting him on the path of author and ardent book collector.
In Books: A Memoir, McMurtry writes about his endless passion for books: as a boy growing up in a largely “bookless” world; as a young man devouring the vastness of literature with astonishing energy; as a fledgling writer and family man; and above all, as one of America’s most prominent bookmen. He takes us on his journey to becoming an astute, adventurous book scout and collector who would eventually open stores of rare and collectible editions in Georgetown, Houston, and finally, in his previously “bookless” hometown of Archer City, Texas. In this work of extraordinary charm, grace, and good humor, McMurtry recounts his life as both a reader and a writer, how the countless books he has read worked to form his literary tastes, while giving us a lively look at the eccentrics who collect, sell, or simply lust after rare volumes. Books: A Memoir is like the best kind of diary — full of McMurtry’s wonderful anecdotes, amazing characters, engaging gossip, and shrewd observations about authors, book people, literature, and the author himself. At once chatty, revealing, and deeply satisfying, Books is, like McMurtry, erudite, life loving, and filled with excellent stories. It is a book to be savored and enjoyed again and again.
InHow Reading Changed My Life, noted author of One True Thing and Living Out Loud Anna Quindlen speaks with eloquence of her lifelong love of reading. In four short essays, the author returns again and again to her special themes: how books have been her constant companions and how such heroes of literature as Anne of Green Gables and Heidi, Anthony Trollop and Jane Austin, were her personal heroes as well.
How Reading Changed My Life is part memoir, part protest, part celebration, a commentary on how books are central to many of the most important questions faced by our culture today.
A recurring theme throughout Anna Quindlen’s How Reading Changed My Life is the comforting premise that readers are never alone. “There was waking, and there was sleeping. And then there were books,” she writes, “a kind of parallel universe in which anything might happen and frequently did, a universe in which I might be a newcomer but never really a stranger. My real, true world.” Later, she quotes editor Hazel Rochman: “Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but, most important, it finds homes for us everywhere.” Indeed, Quindlen’s essays are full of the names of “friends,” real or fictional–Anne of Green Gables and Heidi; Anthony Trollope and Jane Austen, to name just a few–who have comforted, inspired, educated, and delighted her throughout her life. In four short essays Quindlen shares her thoughts on the act of reading itself (“It is like the rubbing of two sticks together to make a fire, the act of reading, an improbable pedestrian task that leads to heat and light”); analyzes the difference between how men and women read (“there are very few books in which male characters, much less boys, are portrayed as devoted readers”); and cheerfully defends middlebrow literature: Most of those so-called middlebrow readers would have readily admitted that the Iliad set a standard that could not be matched by What Makes Sammy Run? or Exodus. But any reader with common sense would also understand intuitively, immediately, that such comparisons are false, that the uses of reading are vast and variegated and that some of them are not addressed by Homer.
The Canon, censorship, and the future of publishing, not to mention that of reading itself, are all subjects Quindlen addresses with intelligence and optimism in a book that may not change your life, but will no doubt remind you of other books that did. –Alix Wilber
To movie buffs, David Denby, film critic for The New Yorker, is a familiar name. But Denby is a lover of books as well, and, at the age of 48, he decided to return to his alma mater of Columbia University and read through 2000+ years of literature. The critic thus read all the “great books,” from Homer to Woolf, Rousseau to Conrad.
Great Books: My Adventures with Homer, Rousseau, Woolf, and Other Indestructible Writers of the Western World chronicles Denby’s experience, thoughts, and inspiration gleaned from the pages of these important writers’ work.
At the age of forty-eight, writer and film critic David Denby returned to Columbia University and re-enrolled in two core courses in Western civilization to confront the literary and philosophical masterpieces — the “great books” — that are now at the heart of the culture wars. In Great Books, he leads us on a glorious tour, a rediscovery and celebration of such authors as Homer and Boccaccio, Locke and Nietzsche. Conrad and Woolf. The resulting personal odyssey is an engaging blend of self-discovery, cultural commentary, reporting, criticism, and autobiography — an inspiration for anyone in love with the written word.