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The Writer's Library: The Authors You Love on the Books That Changed…

por Nancy Pearl, Jeff Schwager

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Mostrando 1-5 de 9 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Warning: Severe Inflation Danger to your TBR
Review of the HarperOne hardcover edition (Sept. 2020)

I'll admit that I wasn't familiar with the previous work of Nancy Pearl and Jeff Schwager, but any librarian who comes with her own action figure is de facto a force to be reckoned with ;)

Image sourced from library.myunion.edu at https://library.myunion.edu/news-librarians-changed-history/

Pearl and Schwager interview 23 prominent contemporary American authors, mostly novelists, with some prepared questions about their childhood reading habits and inspirations through to their most admired books by other authors. As each conversation proceeds, there are tangents taken so that all of the interviews are unique and not boilerplate.

The favourites are too many to list here (probably it is 300 to 400 overall with 23 authors x 15-20 faves each) but several had common favourites.
Ursula K. Le Guin The Earthsea Trilogy (listed by Urrea, Johnson*)
Richard Adams Watership Down (listed by Egan, Miller, Chabon)
Daphne du Maurier Rebecca (listed by Egan, Greer)
Saul Bellow Herzog (listed by Chabon, Eggers, Ford)
Denis Johnson Jesus' Son (listed by Eggers, Nguyen, Vida)
Edward Said Orientalism (listed by Lalami, Nguyen)
Toni Morrison Song of Solomon (listed by Lalami, Hirshfield, Nguyen*)
Edith Wharton The House of Mirth (listed by Egan, Hustvedt)
Joan Didion and William Shakespeare showed up several times as well, but not necessarily the same book or play.

I really can't recommend this highly enough, especially if one of your favourite authors is among the interviewees. I found every single interview to be interesting, and, as mentioned above, a severe danger to my TBR. So be forewarned ;)

Thanks to Liisa, Martin & family for this very thoughtful gift!!

Trivia and Links
Nancy Pearl's website has a selection of writer's quotes from the book here.

* Not the specific book as the others, but recommends the author in general. ( )
  alanteder | Jun 13, 2021 |
A series of edited live conversations with a wide variety of writers about their favorite books, this volume is a great way to find the next great thing to read, and it's fun to "hear" some of your favorite writers talk and joke. (The single exception is Donna Tartt, who was unavailable in person; her emailed "interview" is informative but seems very stiff in contrast.) Nancy and Jeff also do a good job of asking about each writer's own works, so you're reminded of their books too that you might not have read.

A major flaw of the book design is that while the editor's name head the top of every even-numbered page, the writers' names appear only in the interview by first name. So you can't easily page through the book looking for a particular author unless you already know, for example, that T.C. Boyle is "Tom." This could have easily been solved by putting the interviewee's name at the head of the odd-numbered pages of their interview. ( )
  john.cooper | Jan 9, 2021 |
This is a fantastic book!

These are excellent interviews, much better and going deeper than most others I’ve read that are similar. I wasn’t that enthusiastic about reading one right after the other and finishing the book all at once the way I would with a novel or many other types of non-fiction books. I liked pacing my reading with this one. Each author/interview has so much to offer and there are both similarities and differences between them.

This is a book meant for an audio edition! I don’t often say that. I ended up reading the hardcover AND the Axis 360 audio edition simultaneously. I appreciated both formats. I liked the book lists at the end of each section and being able to see them and loved the drawing of the faces of each of the authors at the beginning of their sections, and I’m visually oriented so I liked reading along as I listened. Video interviews would have been great! I love going to author talks and readings. Listening to everyone enriched the reading experience. I enjoyed the questions and responses Nancy Pearl and Jeff Schwager provided and how they kept the flow going. It felt like vicariously being there in the room. A note: the audio edition has two very short sections that the hardcover did not. 15 minutes and 10 minutes long, of authors talking but I have no idea of their identity because they were not introduced. My guess is it might be additional material from two interviews that were in the book proper. I didn’t really listen to those since I didn’t know the identity of the talkers and because the sections appeared after the hardcover edition content.

It was a great book for me to read during the pandemic. It reminded me of the many times I have attended conversations with authors events. It’s been quite a while since I’ve done that, even prior to the pandemic. (I did attend a few virtual events earlier in the pandemic held by one of my favorite local independent bookstores.)

Unfortunately, the interview I most wanted to read/hear was Donna Tartt’s and that was the only author whose voice I assume was someone else’s and where there was less flow to the conversation, and less general conversation, and that was because her section was held as an email interview vs. an in person conversation. I still found it interesting but it was a bit of a disappointment. I know the chapter would have been different and better had it been a true interview like all the others included.

I love learning about others’ lives and authors are particularly fascinating to me. I love them and I appreciate them. I enjoyed reading about their early lives, books they’ve liked throughout their lives, and the many other things they discussed.

The interviews were excellent. Nancy Pearl is a treasure but I will say that in the audio edition of this book I found her voice grating.

This was a perfect book for me to conclude 2020. It’s been a difficult year and a weird year and a particularly isolated year for me, and this was almost being like back at author talks, and without dealing with parking problems or experiencing any other worries. A perfect book at a perfect time. I loved it. ( )
  Lisa2013 | Dec 31, 2020 |
I was able to read an advanced copy of this book thanks to Netgalley.

The Writer's Library is a book of interviews with literary subjects not dissimilar to The New York Times Book Review's "By the Book" column (which is also in book form, sitting on my night stand, xoxo Pamela Paul). Interviewers Nancy Pearl and Jeff Schwager chat with today's living contemporary American writers about the birth of their reading lives, inspirations for their craft, and their reading habits amidst their own writing projects.

At times, certain interviewees became long-winded or redundant. Many of them cited Watership Down as a seminal text in both their reading and writing lives. My favorite interviews to read were with Moroccan writer Laila Lalami, Maaza Mengiste (author of The Shadow King, which today was longlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize), Viet Thanh Nguyen (author of my favorite short story collection, The Refugees), and poet Siri Hustvedt, who I had never heard of before.

I would recommend this book to aspiring writers; it would also make a great gift for the writing or literature student in your life.

Co-author Nancy Pearl is a superhero librarian, queen of Reader's Advisory, and mother of the community-wide read, and is the primary reason why I requested a copy of this book. ( )
  sjanke | Dec 9, 2020 |
Despite being familiar with only a handful of the 22 authors interviewed here, I really enjoyed reading about the books that influenced their writing and even changed their lives. Nancy Pearl and Jeff Schwager seemed to ask just the right questions to prompt insightful, well thought out answers. I was surprised by how many times an author would bring up a book and both Nancy and Jeff would be familiar with it. I was also surprised by how often Watership Down was mentioned. I remember being underwhelmed when I read it a good many years ago – maybe it’s time to try it again?

The author interview I enjoyed the most was Viet Thanh Nguyen’s, primarily because of his objection to distinguishing between ‘so-called genre’ and literary fiction - if we have to say genre fiction, we have to say 'literary fiction is a genre as well that pretends not to be'. That said, the bulk of this book is made up of interviews with literary fiction authors with a few poets tossed in for good measure. One useful feature for anyone needing ideas for their TBR list is a summarization of the books they discussed at the end of each interview. ( )
  wandaly | Dec 7, 2020 |
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