Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Book Recommendations from the Literati
I've been interested to note a sort of pro-books and reading, anti-airport-literature trend going on in the parts of the media world I am willing to expose myself to. I doubt this should be much of a surprise, but I'm interested in the way it's being structured so similarly, but from two different, seemingly unrelated places.

Last year, a publisher sent me a copy of Anne Fadiman's edited book Rereadings. She put together 17 columns from the journal American Scholar in which various authors wrote about rereading their favorite childhood books, and how the experience changed with their own change in life perspective. The idea was fascinating to me, and the columns very good, although my overall impression ended up being that most truly "literary" people don't read the same kinds of things I do. There's probably a reason I wasn't an English major.

Now, NPR has been running a series for a while as well, called "You Must Read This". Again, authors are asked about their favorite books, though in this case it's more of a straightforward recommendation, rather than an introspective exploration of the act of reading. It's interesting to hear the reasons people recommend the books they do in such a public forum, sort of like being in a book club without having to interact. And really, they do end up just being people recommending books, from my perspective, because inevitably I haven't heard of the authors giving their recommendations before, but that's okay.

I would be kind of interested to know if the NPR series is having an impact on what people are reading, since it is a much more widely accessed way of getting the word out than the Fadiman book. Perhaps I'll write more about Fadiman's concept of rereading in the future.

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