Never read Tolstoy? You’re in good company—neither has Malcolm Gladwell or James McBride. Don’t revere Ulysses? Join the non-fan-club that includes Donna Tartt, Richard Ford, and Elizabeth Gilbert. From confessions to enthusiasms—Amy Tan loves Jane Eyre, Gary Shteyngart likes “stories where people suffer a lot”—things you’ve always wanted to know about today’s writers, and much that perhaps had not occurred to you, is available in By the Book (Holt, $28), a collection of sixty-five of the columns by the same name published each week in The New York Times Book Review. Conducted and edited by the Review‘s Pamela Paul, these lively interviews are not just exchanges between editor and subject, but form a wider, ongoing conversation as different people bring up the same names and titles. P.J. O’Rourke also admires Jane Eyre, while, Anne Lamott and Anna Quindlen both praise Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Katherine Boo, for her part, after growing up on Encyclopedia Brown, has lately favored stories by George Saunders. Friendly, forthcoming, and compulsively readable, these chats are a bibliophile’s dream come true—not to mention a source of unbeatable book recommendations.
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Henry Holt and Co. - October 28th, 2014
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - November 3rd, 2015
A writer’s vision in the fullest sense comes through in the writing, but what is that person actually looking at while setting down words? In these brief essays, accompanied by pen-and-ink drawings, fifty writers, plus one artist, Matteo Pericoli, send postcards from their desks. Windows on the World (Penguin Press, $27.95) not only provides glimpses from Beijing high-rises, Melbourne suburbs, and Nottingham gardens, but offers ample proof that not all writers live in Brooklyn. And while all inhabit the land of imagination, they find their best work hails from the border between the world they look out on and the one they struggle to convey from within. Just as Pericoli’s beautiful drawings demonstrate the flexibility of unadorned lines to be spare or lush as the scene requires, these pieces are at once straightforward descriptions of everyday work habits and eloquent statements about creativity. For Emma Larkin in Burma as for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in Lagos, a glance outside is inspiration, “a view choked with stories.” Looking out on Skopjce, Lidija Dimkovska finds “it was impossible not to write.” For others, the window is a rest; Marina Endicott uses it as “a way for my mind to blink.” T.C. Boyle looks out at Montecito and finds “distraction and lack of distraction both.”