June 10, 2005

BOOKS: More Book Lust, Nancy Pearl (2005)

Nancy Pearl is the closest thing you'll find to a celebrity librarian. She talks about books on NPR's "Morning Edition;" she was one of the creators of the first "One City, One Book" programs; there's even a Nancy Pearl action figure.

This is her second collection of book recommendations, and it shares the strengths and weaknesses of the first Book Lust.

On the plus side, this woman reads a lot, and does so with great generosity. She has a knack for finding interesting ways of grouping books together; the book is organized into about 120 1-2 page mini-essays, each dealing with a specific author or topic. Among the lists in this book: "Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, Brothers" (books about the clergy), "Gallivanting in the Graveyard" (fiction set in cemeteries), "It Was a Dark and Stormy Novel" (books to read when you're in the mood for something really bleak), and "You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover" (fabulous books with unappealing or misleading covers).

The downside, and it's a big one, is that Pearl whips through titles so quickly that she doesn't really give you enough information to know whether you might enjoy the book. Most books don't get more than a sentence or two, and some of the lists are just that -- lists of author and title, with no additional information at all.

Even so, a fairly quick skim through the book turned up a dozen titles that interested me enough to add them to my "someday I'll read that" list (because, you know, with only 30 feet of bookshelf space full of books I haven't read yet, I'm obviously in need of more books for that list). The Book Lust books aren't as useful as they might be if Pearl focused on fewer books in greater detail, but they're interesting snapshots of one reader's mind.

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