Saturday 6 October 2012

One for the Books by Joe Queenan - Book Review

Title: One for the Books
Author: Joe Queenan
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: 25th October 2012
Pages: 256
Format: E-Book - PDF
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley


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? Acerbically funny yet passionate and oddly affectionate, One for the Books is a reading experience that true book lovers will find unforgettable.
(Goodreads Synopsis)

I was actually looking forward to this book, thinking it sounded like a fun and interesting read. Unfortunately, the author got in the way.

Before I continue, a little something about me. In my teens, I was a book snob. I thought classics were the only things worth reading and I sniffed at the thought of e-books. These days I have lost that snobbish side and I read a huge range of different books and own an e-reader, dividing my time 50/450 between print and electronic.

From the first chapter, the author irritated me with his conceited, snobbish attitude. He basically seemed to be saying people who read e-books don't really appreciate books and people who borrow from the library are skinflints. To show superiority, he quoted the number of books he owns. Well, I can actually equal his tally, but I read e-books too, so that destroys that argument.

Later he moaned at friends giving him books he doesn't want to read and took joy in describing how he shoves them in a dusty corner of the shelf. I bet his friends appreciate that! He then attacked various authors and their writing. Sometimes I agreed with his assessment, other times not, but it still seemed a little vicious.

At times, the author made some funny comments and told some enjoyable anecdotes and that makes me wonder if some of the comments I reacted so strongly to were also meant in jest. To give him the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they were. But if he was aiming at humour, he missed the mark and came across as arrogant instead.

It was a shame as the book could have been a fun read. The author's prose is clear and engaging and many of his stories were amusing. But for me, his attitude and overstated opinions got in the way

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