Joe Queenan became a voracious reader as a means of escape from a joyless childhood in a Philadelphia housing project. In the years since then he has dedicated himself to an assortment of idiosyncratic reading challenges: spending a year reading only short books, spending a year reading books he always suspected he would hate, spending a year reading books he picked with his eyes closed.
In One for the Books, Queenan tries to come to terms with his own eccentric reading style—how many more books will he have time to read in his lifetime? Why does he refuse to read books hailed by reviewers as “astonishing”? Why does he refuse to lend out books? Will he ever buy an e-book? Why does he habitually read thirty to forty books simultaneously? Why are there so many people to whom the above questions do not even matter—and what do they read?
I had so much fun reading this book! It is a comfort to know that I am not the only crazy book person out there. This man puts me to shame.
I will admit that at first I was skeptical as to whether or not I would like this guy. He seemed a bit pretentious at first and I was worried that he was going to make me so angry that I would have to stop reading. However, as I went on, I realized that while he is a highly well-read man, and has read some highly obscure literature that I would probably never touch, we also have favorites in common. That, and he admits to enjoying the odd bit of genre fiction, which is a positive check in my book.
While I by no means agreed with him 100% of the time (I happen to think a book club would be fun with the right people and I love getting suggestions about what to read next) I did find myself agreeing with him on various things, like how e-readers would never work for me because every one of my books is attached to a memory, and that comparing brand new authors to say, Jane Austen, is the dumbest and worst thing you can do. I also have to say that his rant about the Yankees and Yankees fans it spot on and beautiful. (They don’t actually know the pain of disappointment. They think they do, but they don’t.)
There were times (like the Yankees rant) were I actually found myself laughing out loud in public places. Thus getting strange looks from strangers. Some of these times were because what he said was just generally funny and other times it was because I was just so happy to hear that someone had the same opinion I did.
While he does seem rather immovable in his ways, and while I do believe that he should be a little nicer about some people’s taste in books, I truly enjoyed what he had to say. He even made me feel better about not finishing a book, no matter how far into it I am, when I’m not enjoying it. This has been a constant struggle for me, and reading about his same struggle and how he views it now, I feel that I will now save time in the future by not slogging through books that just aren’t working for me. It basically comes down to “why waste the time?”. Why it took this book to make me realize that, I don’t know, but it did and I am grateful for it. If only I had that mentality when I was slowly making my way through Anna Karenina and Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
This is a great book for anyone who considers themselves a bibliophile, or just loves books in general. It’s always great to hear from a fellow book lover, especially since they seem to be becoming few and far between nowadays. Funny, insightful, and entertaining, One for the Books is a great tribute to those things that we just can’t get enough of. Books.