Tuesday, January 10, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: Every Book Its Reader: The power of the printed word to stir the world

The announcement of a new book by Nicholas Basbanes is an occasion of joy for any devoted reader who loves reading about books. My copies of Basbanes' works are the backbone of my collection of books about books, and it is he who introduced me to the dazzling world of the "gently mad."

Since reading A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books, I eagerly await each installment to discover what secret corridors and closed doors he will open next. Basbanes' works act as a secret handshake that allows entry to a world any serious bibliophile longs to enter, a world devoted to the care, handling and love of the printed word.

In Every Books Its Reader, the social history of the book is explored from the perspective of the reader. Basbanes explores the meaning readers give to texts through their personal experiences, and how that experience helps connect with others. He says, "We are not only the product of what we read, we are in association with others who have read the same things."

Early I discovered 84 Charing Cross Road, a book that became a dear friend to be revisited often. Helene Hanff showed what a love of reading can truly bring to a life, the journey one can take through books with a helpful guide. Nicholas Basbanes easily fills this role. His pages resonate with quotes and stories and his love of books fairly bursts off the page. He carries the reader to a new path that leads to books, "a book casually encountered by an imaginative mind, lighting a spark that ignites a flame of creativity...."

At the start of Every Books Its Reader, Basbanes shares a story that ends "...if ever I go to Heaven I know where to find her. I shall go straight over to the corner by the bookcases." When I get there, I shall expect to find Nicholas Basbanes there, holding court.

You can see the review as it is posted here ->Review at ArmchairInterviews.com

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