One for the Books
One of America’s leading humorists and author of the bestseller Closing Time examines his own obsession with booksJoe 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.

One for the Books Details

TitleOne for the Books
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 25th, 2012
PublisherViking
ISBN-139780670025824
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Writing, Books About Books, Autobiography, Memoir, Essays, Humor

One for the Books Review

  • Melki
    January 1, 1970
    "I once read Tortilla Flats from cover to cover during a Jerry Garcia solo on 'Truckin'' at Philadelphia's Spectrum; by the time he'd wrapped things up, I could have read 'As I Lay Dying.'""I have never squandered an opportunity to read."Oh, boy - did I ever LOVE this book!!! How could anyone NOT swoon over such an exuberant and irreverent love letter to books and reading?I can't think of any better way to review this one other than to just make a list of the reasons why this book instantly made "I once read Tortilla Flats from cover to cover during a Jerry Garcia solo on 'Truckin'' at Philadelphia's Spectrum; by the time he'd wrapped things up, I could have read 'As I Lay Dying.'""I have never squandered an opportunity to read."Oh, boy - did I ever LOVE this book!!! How could anyone NOT swoon over such an exuberant and irreverent love letter to books and reading?I can't think of any better way to review this one other than to just make a list of the reasons why this book instantly made the jump to my list of nonfiction favorites.1) Queenan estimates that he has read six to seven thousand books in his lifetime. He knows what he's talking about.2) Though we don't agree on everything, he has read several of the same wonderful and obscure authors and books that I have, like The House of Paper.3) Like me, he has books on his shelves that he NEVER plans to read, but as he says, It would be pointless to get rid of them now. 4) Queenan has quirky book habits. He has no qualms about writing in his books, but will not read in the bathroom, as it is unspeakably vulgar and disrespectful to the person whose work one is reading, unless one is reading someone appalling.5) He has an aversion to book clubs. (The longer I stay in the two that I've joined, the more I'm inclined to agree.) In response to the "Questions for Discussion" that are now included in the backs of many books, Queenan has come up with a few of his own, like these from Wuthering Heights:---1. Did you see the movie based on this book? Didn't you think Laurence Olivier was too old to play the part? Boy, I sure did. I never thought he was all that good-looking, did you?---2. If Heathcliff had fallen in love with someone like Jane Eyre instead of Cathy, do you think his house would have burned down?---3. If Heathcliff were alive today, would he mention Cathy's death on his Facebook page and say that he was no longer in a relationship?6) Queenan embarks on many different reading "projects" like Spending a year reading books I had always suspected I would hate and Spending a year reading books I picked off the library shelf with my eyes closed.7) He has a tendency to reject authors based on which sports teams they root for. (I TOTALLY GET this! I got rid of ALL my Kinky Friedman books after he threw his support behind Texas Governor Rick Perry in the 2012 Republican Primary.)8) He recognizes the joy of occasionally reading BAD books, saying, Shockingly bad books have an important place in our lives, because they keep our brains active. Good books don't make you think, because the author has already done the thinking for you, but a terrible book can give your brain a real workout, because you spend so much time wondering what incredibly dumb thing the author will say next.9) I added at least a dozen titles mentioned in this book to my "must-read" list.Queenan is now 61, so he spends a lot of time talking about his dwindling time left for reading. He discusses books he will NEVER finish and books he would love to read again. And he brought me up short with the question of "What will be the LAST book you read?"Reading is the way mankind delays the inevitable. Reading is the way we shake our fist at the sky. As long as we have these epic, improbable reading projects arrayed before us, we cannot breathe our last: Tell the Angel of Death to come back later; I haven't quite finished Villette.
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  • Diane
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars"When I was young and penniless, I read books in the hope of lifting myself out of the abyss, subscribing to the credo that knowledge is power."I enjoyed this collection of essays about books, despite the fact that the author is an arrogant, curmudgeonly ass. He is cynical and grouchy and dismissive of certain types of books and readers and libraries and book clubs. And boy, does he hate e-readers -- he mentions it several times. However, I am also a book snob and I agreed with some but 3.5 stars"When I was young and penniless, I read books in the hope of lifting myself out of the abyss, subscribing to the credo that knowledge is power."I enjoyed this collection of essays about books, despite the fact that the author is an arrogant, curmudgeonly ass. He is cynical and grouchy and dismissive of certain types of books and readers and libraries and book clubs. And boy, does he hate e-readers -- he mentions it several times. However, I am also a book snob and I agreed with some but not all of his bookish opinions. And Joe Queenan speaks with some authority: he reads about 200 books a year and estimates he's read about 7,000 books in his life. "I have never squandered an opportunity to read. There are only twenty-four hours in the day, seven of which are spent sleeping, and in my view at least four of the remaining seventeen must be devoted to reading."Well, I can't argue with that logic. Maybe if Joe hadn't insulted some of my favorite novels in the first chapter I wouldn't have called him an ass. But he would probably revel in that insult, as I am a librarian and he wrote an entire essay about "crotchety" librarians and his bad experiences in libraries and how he despises people who borrow books instead of buying them. So yeah, he's still an ass, just a well-read one.I would advise against reading this book in one day, as I did, because I think Joe is more tolerable in small doses. The essays are in the style of long newspaper or magazine columns, and he does repeat himself a few times, as columnists tend to do. I did get several good book recommendations from him, which I always appreciate, but I would have enjoyed his writing more if there had been a bit less snark.
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  • Scott Rhee
    January 1, 1970
    Joe Queenan and I apparently share an obsessive passion. No, it's not whining incessantly about politics (although I suppose that works, too). We are both bibliophiles.To be a true bibliophile, one must possess certain personal quirks. First, one must OWN books. Getting books from the library and borrowing books from friends is okay, but actually owning books---regardless of whether one actually has room in the home (which is why I have books in boxes in the basement, sitting in piles on the flo Joe Queenan and I apparently share an obsessive passion. No, it's not whining incessantly about politics (although I suppose that works, too). We are both bibliophiles.To be a true bibliophile, one must possess certain personal quirks. First, one must OWN books. Getting books from the library and borrowing books from friends is okay, but actually owning books---regardless of whether one actually has room in the home (which is why I have books in boxes in the basement, sitting in piles on the floor in the bedroom, piled by my favorite chair in the living room, and just about anywhere else that they shouldn't be---coffee table, dining room table, kitchen table, kid's room)---is far preferable. Second, is the actual love of books as tangible objects. The smell of wood pulp and ink, the feel of a thick hardcover binding, the ruffle of pages as you flip through it: these are simple pleasures one will never receive from a Kindle or Nook or iPad. Which is why I refuse to own one of them. Even if someone gets one for me as a present, I will most likely never use it. So, please, save your money... Third, and probably the one quirk that makes true bibliophiles look like lunatics, is the need to have a book with you at all times. I have taken books with me to baseball games, doctor visits, and job interviews. Any place I know that I may be waiting for more than five minutes (hey, that's 10-12 pages right there…), I have to have something to read, and the crap that most waiting rooms call reading material (People magazine---seriously?) is stuff I wouldn't wrap a fish with.So, it was comforting to read that Queenan and I (and millions of other people) share these quirks, and more. I don't feel so alone. Queenan and I may differ in some views---Queenan is, not to put to fine a point on it, a literary snob asshole who hates science fiction and most genre fiction in general (except mysteries, which strikes me as weirdly hypocritical, but whatever…) over "literary" fiction and nonfiction. Now, I will read just about anything, and I try not to have too many prejudices in regards to genre fiction, although I have still, to this day, only read two novels that were blatantly categorized as "romance" novels, and I thought they both kinda sucked, so I don't have any desire to rush to the next romance novel anytime soon, but, unlike Queenan, I am willing to give it a try. He won't even LOOK at a copy of Frank Herbert's "Dune". Seriously, Queenan, WTF???I'll forgive him that because Queenan clearly has a love of reading that he has nourished since his childhood. I can relate. He humorously tells tales of strange encounters, serendipitous occurrences, and wondrous finds in bookstores all across the country: again, things that would NEVER happen on a Kindle. He also admits things that only true bibliophiles would ever admit: for example, that we have, on occasion, called in sick from work in order to read a book. We also would much rather read than, at times, do the following: spend time with family, go to a movie, go to the beach, do housework, watch TV, have sex, eat, sleep. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating about those last three things, but not much.
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  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    Joe Queenan is a humourist, critic and author from Philadelphia who become an avid reader as a means of escape from a young age. One for the Books is a memoir where Queenan tries to come to terms with his eccentric reading style. Joe Queenan is not your typical reader, and One for the Books is not your typical book about books. Joe Queenan is a very odd and particular reader, he knows what he likes and this book is not really humorous but more self-deprecating. I thought I was a bitter and jaded Joe Queenan is a humourist, critic and author from Philadelphia who become an avid reader as a means of escape from a young age. One for the Books is a memoir where Queenan tries to come to terms with his eccentric reading style. Joe Queenan is not your typical reader, and One for the Books is not your typical book about books. Joe Queenan is a very odd and particular reader, he knows what he likes and this book is not really humorous but more self-deprecating. I thought I was a bitter and jaded person but Queenan puts me to shame, throughout the book it feels like he will never be satisfied and will always be a cranky reader. Even some of his opinions towards books and book collecting seem outlandish and weird for a reader like me but it works for him and you can’t really argue with that.I was looking forward to reading about someone who is a grump with a passion for book and while this was explored in this book, I think he took it too far sometimes. I know it is his personal opinions but the way he talked about hating people giving him books or even recommending books to him was just a little too far; he is old and set in his ways but I tend to think a little kindness towards others, especially when giving you a gift isn’t too much to ask for.Joe Queenan is like that weird relative that everyone has; not sure what he is thinking, always set in his ways and you don’t want to get him drunk. This book is really interesting and I enjoyed his approach to this book. While his opinions differ from my own in some aspects, he really does love reading and this doesn’t always come through in the book but you know it is there.One for the Books is really different to any other book related memoir I’ve read and that is what makes it so interesting. If you don’t want to read about a grumpy old man’s opinions towards reading then you don’t want to read this book. If you want something different then give it ago. I’m happy to have read this book; it makes me feel almost normal when it comes to my opinions on reading and books.This review originally appeared on my blog; http://literary-exploration.com/2013/...
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  • Ken
    January 1, 1970
    Books about books. To the bibliophile, they are like candy. Ice cream. Pepperoni pizza. Hot fudge sundaes. Cold beer on a hot summer day. Yes, please, in other words. Who can resist all of those italicized titles of books the author/fellow addict has enjoyed, after all? Rhetorical question, lads and lasses. No one in this room we know.Reading it, you, like me, will be underlining book titles for future reference, for a rainy day when you can type them into your "To-Read" shelf on Goodreads, in o Books about books. To the bibliophile, they are like candy. Ice cream. Pepperoni pizza. Hot fudge sundaes. Cold beer on a hot summer day. Yes, please, in other words. Who can resist all of those italicized titles of books the author/fellow addict has enjoyed, after all? Rhetorical question, lads and lasses. No one in this room we know.Reading it, you, like me, will be underlining book titles for future reference, for a rainy day when you can type them into your "To-Read" shelf on Goodreads, in other words. Books you've heard of. Books you haven't heard of (even though you've been listening). Big books, brief books. American books, foreign books. Books you've read before but need to read again. Or didn't THINK you needed to read again until some author came along and reminded you that, YES, this book is worthy of reading again. And again. So what are you waiting for?Queenan, for instance, believes James Joyce's Dubliners is the single best collection of short stories ever. End of (short) story. Me, I say to myself, "Holy St. Patrick! I haven't read Dubliners since the Jimmy Carter Administrion (if you want to call it that)! What am I waiting for?"Other Queenan favorites include books I have looked at but never bothered to open: Death Comes for the Archbishop, The Snow Goose, Portnoy's Complaint, for instance. He champions reading many titles at a time, taking three years or more to finish giant tomes like Don Quixote, and supporting local libraries and smallish bookstores. As the book is a collection of his many newspaper and magazine pieces (amended for book form), JQ sometimes repeats himself and even contradicts himself, but you and I do, too. We just don't have the evidence in the form of our blatherings in book form (thank Odin!).Joes loathes library readings, book clubs, discussion questions for book clubs, friends who foist books on him, best sellers, blurbs, and school summer reading lists (to name but a few). But, hey. He's a journalist. He's entitled to opinions. And to humor, which he's good at.For instance, when ranting about historical reenactors, often hired by libraries, he writes, "Having seen many of these jokers in action--at Mount Vernon, at Colonial Williamsburg, at points west--I have come to believe that people who get dressed up in period costume, with three-cornered hats and high-buckle shoes, and who speak in archaic English, suffer from Reenactor's Autism, a malady that renders victims incapable of recognizing otherwise unmistakable visual cues indicating that most of the people in the room would like to seem them disemboweled."Joe has some interesting bon mots, too. For example, "Good books don't make you think, because the author has already done all of the thinking for you, but a terrible book can really give your brain a workout, because you spend so much time wondering what incredibly dumb thing the author will say next."One for the Books has a little bit of something for everyone, if you love books and (important caveat) do not easily take offense. Queenan is paid to have strong opinions by his magazine/newspaper bosses, after all, so if he takes off on your favorite author or your beloved book club habit, take a deep breath and remember, it's not personal. Opinions make horse races which sometimes pay off in the trifecta.Want more quotes and titles from the book? I used it for further fodder here.Happy reading about reading!
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  • Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
    January 1, 1970
    I had hoped Joe Queenan’s ‘One for the Books’ would prove to be an exception from the often stuffy, professorial tomes that wax lyrical about the joys of reading, as long as that reading is almost exclusively authored by, or about, Dead White Dudes (D.W.D).In part it was, but unfortunately Queenan’s humour doesn’t quite negate his narrow definition of what ‘good books’ are. Queenan is a book snob, dismissing genre fiction almost in its entirety, and championing way too many D.W.D.I was particula I had hoped Joe Queenan’s ‘One for the Books’ would prove to be an exception from the often stuffy, professorial tomes that wax lyrical about the joys of reading, as long as that reading is almost exclusively authored by, or about, Dead White Dudes (D.W.D).In part it was, but unfortunately Queenan’s humour doesn’t quite negate his narrow definition of what ‘good books’ are. Queenan is a book snob, dismissing genre fiction almost in its entirety, and championing way too many D.W.D.I was particularly frustrated by Queenan’s dismissive attitudes to libraries (his white male privilege is showing there), and his hatred of ebooks, and ereaders. I own about equal amounts of both print and ebooks, that brings my current total to somewhere over 4000 books. I have read many more, owned many more, borrowed many more, given away many more. I have, and I doubt anyone I know would dispute it, ‘...engaged in an intense, lifelong love affair with books...’ ,and I don’t care if they are written longhand on parchment, or are a complicated string of binary numbers...a book, is a book, is a book, no matter the format.So, sadly, my search for a book from a self confessed bibliophile who isn’t contemptuous of the other 99% of readers continues.
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  • Jill Mackin
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed One for the Books because it let me reflect on my lifelong obsession with reading. Queenan is sort of a literary snob and we have but a handful of authors in common. And his angst about Middlemarch is a bit over the top.
  • Robin
    January 1, 1970
    I am ready to believe that Queenan wrote this book to prove that he could name however many titles and authors that he name-drops in here in under 250 pages. I suspect he was counting. He covers quite the spectrum, almost always at the level of the barest mention--sometimes scathing, sometimes ecstatic. Yes, he can write witty sentences, and I always award healthy points for that, I don't much appreciate the way he writes a similar sentence over and over again in a paragraph, each time substitut I am ready to believe that Queenan wrote this book to prove that he could name however many titles and authors that he name-drops in here in under 250 pages. I suspect he was counting. He covers quite the spectrum, almost always at the level of the barest mention--sometimes scathing, sometimes ecstatic. Yes, he can write witty sentences, and I always award healthy points for that, I don't much appreciate the way he writes a similar sentence over and over again in a paragraph, each time substituting in the name of a different book or author. That gets tiresome.When I reached the end and saw the disclaimer, "portions of this book appeared in different form in The New York Times, yadayadayada" I immediately recognized the sentiment that I experienced upon finishing Bill Bryson's I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away. It's an unsatisfying sense that you've just experienced something a bit awkwardly-cobbled-together, like watching too many episodes of a good television show back to back and realizing that there's a reason those episodes are meant to be consumed with an intervening week between each one. Queenan, while funny, is also quite cranky. For someone who loves books and reading so much, he can be awfully nasty about other avid readers whose reading lists he deems insufficiently wide-ranging. He is as unapologetic about his opinions as he is eager to share them--almost as though he has held himself back for decades from discussing books with people in person (because it almost always goes poorly for him) and now has to let it all out, like he can't help it. The result is that the reader has to be a bit patient with him when he goes off themes like "I was reading Nordic crime fiction before everyone else" and "let me tell you how much I know about Henry de Motherlant" -- I'm paraphrasing, of course, but not by much. But then he wins me over by making all his friends fill out a detailed survey about their reading habits and digging into the psychology of their answers (can I do this? I want to!!) and says things like "People said I was insane to buy books in England and then carry them all the way back to the United States, especially if they are orange. But people like that are peasants." He speaks my mind!I did pick up a few book ideas in here--though not as many as one might expect, given the number of books mentioned--and very much enjoyed and sympathized with his anecdotal evidence for why reading physical books and reading books on an ereader is just not the same experience. Books, as Queenan demonstrates, are not just for reading -- they are also a big cultural blanket in which you wrap all the rooms of your house. Books hold specific memories depending on where or at whose suggestion they were acquired. Books can have enigmatic notes written in the margins with different handwriting revealing your age, maturity, or mood. Books can travel from your own shelves to those of trusted friends and become shared relics of shared reading experiences. Books can be thrown across the room when the situation requires it. Books are meant to take up permanent space--this is in no way a failing of the medium. I agree with this: "Electronic books are ideal for people who value [only] the information contained in them, or who have vision problems, or who like to read on the subway, or who do not want other people to see how they are amusing themselves, or who have storage and clutter issues, but they are useless for people who are engaged in an intense, lifelong love affair with books. Books that we can touch; books that we can smell; books that we can depend on."
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  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    Darn, darn and darn again...someone recommended this to me and I can't remember who but thank you anyway.If you're a book lover and most of us on GR are, you should be able to find something useful and even amusing in this laying in all out on paper, confession of sorts, or Joe Queenan, book addict. Consider that this guy is reading over 30 books at a time, not just browsing, actually reading. He reads at least 2 hours a day, 4 is you add in time for newspapers, work material and magazines. He r Darn, darn and darn again...someone recommended this to me and I can't remember who but thank you anyway.If you're a book lover and most of us on GR are, you should be able to find something useful and even amusing in this laying in all out on paper, confession of sorts, or Joe Queenan, book addict. Consider that this guy is reading over 30 books at a time, not just browsing, actually reading. He reads at least 2 hours a day, 4 is you add in time for newspapers, work material and magazines. He reads everywhere and I mean everywhere. Books, not e-books, as Queenan explains and does not apologize that he marks them up. Yep, writes notes throughout.The very first line got my attention"The average American reds four books a year, and the average American finds this more than sufficient" Queenan soon had me laughing right out loud, something I infrequently do when reading a book. There are some great vignettes here, why he reads, what he reads, thoughts on libraries, his book shelves, why he doesn't like to take books others try to lend him and more. My choice of quotes from the book comes from something he overheard at a library. He was a speaker on a panel at a county library association awards ceremony. He clearly did not care for the message of the keynote speaker. This man began his talk by holding a 33 1/3 record."Listen up, librarians: Physical books are a thing of the past. Your delivery system is antiquated. Downloads are the wave of the future. Your business model doesn't work anymore. Your should run your library more like a business. Businessmen, after all, have successful business models." He sums up his thoughts on this statement with one a friend from his own library heard elsewhere:A library is not a business. A library is a miracle."There are some that would disagree about the business part but few library lovers who would challenge the miracle.He rants a bit, I hope in jest, about cheap people who borrow their books from libraries. Actually, his words are less kind than my choice. Sorry Joe, but I interlibrary loaned your book. Hopefully someone will read my comments and feel compelled to buy your book. One for the Books is a memoir of sorts, as reading is quite important to this humorist. I highly recommend it but be forewarned, you'll probably come away with a few additions to your own bulging book shelves as I did.
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    I’m happy I read this book. Just one reason is finding permission on p.189 to not like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which I haven’t read, and earlier in the book, Tuesdays with Morrie, which I have read. Queenan is an astonishing writer - absolutely hilarious. Never mind that he's arrogant, condescending, insulting, and he overgeneralizes.Those who love cynicism will probably love this book too. And maybe those who don't. The thinner skinned will want to stick with End of Your Life Book Club I’m happy I read this book. Just one reason is finding permission on p.189 to not like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which I haven’t read, and earlier in the book, Tuesdays with Morrie, which I have read. Queenan is an astonishing writer - absolutely hilarious. Never mind that he's arrogant, condescending, insulting, and he overgeneralizes.Those who love cynicism will probably love this book too. And maybe those who don't. The thinner skinned will want to stick with End of Your Life Book Club, which I loved slightly more than One for the Books. He especially hates Kindles. I can see why he would. He remembers everything he reads, so the ability to carry his entire library with him at all times is useless. Having a whole, big house plus an office to store his books, he has no empathy for those needing to disburse in anticipation of having to move to smaller quarters in perhaps a not so distant future. I doubt it would help even if he knew about me telling my husband on our first vacation together, when he complained about the quantity of books I packed, that clean underwear for every day was expendable but the books were not. Interestingly, he values the citizen reviews on sites such as Amazon.
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  • Kris
    January 1, 1970
    Sometimes mildly interesting, sometimes quite funny, but generally too snooty for me. Queenan is frankly a snob.He's so self-absorbed, so sarcastically satisfied with his own self-sanctioned reading habits, his snobbery leaks out into other realms. The second half of the book was barely about books or reading at all, but more like a biography, with Queenan going off on random tangents that I frankly don't care about. I sped-read the last 150+ pages.I suppose it is a quick read, and it was nice t Sometimes mildly interesting, sometimes quite funny, but generally too snooty for me. Queenan is frankly a snob.He's so self-absorbed, so sarcastically satisfied with his own self-sanctioned reading habits, his snobbery leaks out into other realms. The second half of the book was barely about books or reading at all, but more like a biography, with Queenan going off on random tangents that I frankly don't care about. I sped-read the last 150+ pages.I suppose it is a quick read, and it was nice to see a bunch of obscure titles I'd never have found anywhere else, but it added nothing to my to-read list.(I really need to stop pulling random books down off the library shelves based on their back-cover commentaries. It doesn't usually turn out well.)
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  • Bridget
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book as a Christmas gift. I'm pretty sure I've heard of Joe Queenan, though I'm not sure where/when/how. This book is a set of essays he wrote - some appearing previously in other publications - where he discusses his love for books, and what they have meant in his life.I am not sure if I liked or hated this book. Queenan seems like a person who is very busy making sure that you know he came from a difficult, poor childhood in Philadelphia, but that he has risen far above it by b I received this book as a Christmas gift. I'm pretty sure I've heard of Joe Queenan, though I'm not sure where/when/how. This book is a set of essays he wrote - some appearing previously in other publications - where he discusses his love for books, and what they have meant in his life.I am not sure if I liked or hated this book. Queenan seems like a person who is very busy making sure that you know he came from a difficult, poor childhood in Philadelphia, but that he has risen far above it by becoming literary. My problem is that he seems like someone who I would consider a literary snob. Anyone who knows me knows that I am incredibly judgemental, and tend to think that many people are annoying or even stupid. However, I also realize that I am incredibly judgemental, and that my opinions are not necessarily based on any provable evidence. I wish everyone would read "good" books and enjoy them. I wish reading and writing were as important to society overall as science and math are. In reality, I am glad when people just read. I am glad there are public libraries and people who patronize them. I am glad that there are still brick-and-mortar bookstores so that I can purchase a book in person. And I'm even glad there are e-readers, because when you walk back and forth to work every single day, carrying your lunch, your water bottle, sometimes an extra pair of shoes and who knows what else, it's nice not to have to carry a heavy book as well, or worry that it will be ruined by the other crap.Joe Queenan is not like me in any of those ways. As a matter of fact, he spends a lot of the book telling the reader how much he is a purist, an intellectual. He is like me in that he reads A LOT, wishes everyone did, and loves the worlds that books provide. There are parts of this book that made me laugh out loud, and parts that made me want to go to his house and punch him in the face. I can say that the best thing about it was that it made me consciously think about myself, reading, and how I see it in the universe at large. So - maybe you should read it. Who knows?
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  • Nicki Markus
    January 1, 1970
    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 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.I received this book as a free e-book ARC via NetGalley.
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  • Manfred
    January 1, 1970
    At about page 83 I realized I was starting to get weary of Joe's adventures in reading. I enjoy his writing in the pelletized newspaper column format, and his sense of whimsical humor and de rigeur Irish sense of self-deprecation is ever-present. He is never sidesplittingly or wickedly funny, more a member of the same tribe as Dave Barry or Erma Bombeck. If your tastes run in that direction then you will enjoy this book. To me, it was like reading the same 5 pages over and over. Or overhearing t At about page 83 I realized I was starting to get weary of Joe's adventures in reading. I enjoy his writing in the pelletized newspaper column format, and his sense of whimsical humor and de rigeur Irish sense of self-deprecation is ever-present. He is never sidesplittingly or wickedly funny, more a member of the same tribe as Dave Barry or Erma Bombeck. If your tastes run in that direction then you will enjoy this book. To me, it was like reading the same 5 pages over and over. Or overhearing the most well-read member of a book club holding court.Queenan admits it is perfectly appropriate not to finish a book, or to set it aside for years; he has 138 such books on his own shelves. I soldiered on to the finish, although his lifelong voyage as a booklover didn't always speak to me. As he admits, reading is an intensely personal experience. So, apparently, is trying to read about what someone else has been reading.I did get a good laugh when he addresses citizen reviews in forums like Amazon and GoodReads, however. Hiding in our virtual book depository and taking rifle shots at great authors as they ride by in their convertibles, we are actually providing a noble service!
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  • Meghan
    January 1, 1970
    This guy is a crank. A book-reading crank, with several suspect opinions, including the complete dismissal of fantasy, science fiction, and children's books. But wait! His opinions are often outlandish, but he's hilariously clever in a Bill Bryson-esque way. His jabs at libraries and librarianship are awesome, as when he is asked to give a talk at the public library because he is a local author: "Library events scare me, as they provide refuge for local historians, fabulists, tellers of tall tal This guy is a crank. A book-reading crank, with several suspect opinions, including the complete dismissal of fantasy, science fiction, and children's books. But wait! His opinions are often outlandish, but he's hilariously clever in a Bill Bryson-esque way. His jabs at libraries and librarianship are awesome, as when he is asked to give a talk at the public library because he is a local author: "Library events scare me, as they provide refuge for local historians, fabulists, tellers of tall tales, historical reenactors, and even dream weavers." His talk doesn't go that well. He also coins the phrase 'matriculated from The Beatrix Potter Academy of Small-Town Librarian Charm', which is a perfect way to describe those effusive and theatrical children's librarians. This book is more or less the author talking to the reader about reading, and how the act of reading over a lifetime is an ongoing dialogue or conversation with both yourself and the larger culture. But, he reminds us, we mostly read because we aren't satisfied with reality. Reading goals and plans come up often, and among other plans, he mentions spending a year reading only books he chose from library shelves at random with his eyes shut, spending a year reading an entire short novel every day, and spending a year rereading only books he'd already read twice. That's the kind of stuff that gets me excited. Oh, and also he's casually insulting and dismissive of the books he doesn't care for, so much so that it's hard to take seriously. He says an author writes like "Nora Roberts on Robitussin DM", which made me laugh and laugh. One last note: I kept wondering what Nancy Pearl, professional reader, would think of this. I think she would like it?
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    Book critic and contributor to many different magazines and newspapers, this is a book that is all about reading, his love for books, his experiences in libraries and bookshops. In the first chapter he actually sounded just like me and I am sure many others, reading whenever and wherever he could. He is a self avowed book snob and manages to criticize many others, which was written sarcastically, not meanly.Actually managed to make me feel guilty for reading on my kindle but since I still read a Book critic and contributor to many different magazines and newspapers, this is a book that is all about reading, his love for books, his experiences in libraries and bookshops. In the first chapter he actually sounded just like me and I am sure many others, reading whenever and wherever he could. He is a self avowed book snob and manages to criticize many others, which was written sarcastically, not meanly.Actually managed to make me feel guilty for reading on my kindle but since I still read a book at the same time I quickly got over my guilt. I totally agree that the hard thing in a case (E-reader) does not give me the same feel or joy that a real book does. Love his description of books, his experiences with books and his different quests undertaken with the notion that he will get through the books in his house (sound familiar)? He hopes to one day climb the mountain that is Middlemarch and though he has read many books that I have not that is one mountain I have already climbed and loved doing it.
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  • Lee Anne
    January 1, 1970
    Joe Queenan was a writer for two of my favorite, long defunct, magazines: Spy and Movieline. In this book, he discusses his lifelong love of reading and of books as physical objects. Many, if not all, of these essays were originally published as magazine pieces, so there is some repetition of themes--his Francophilia and the angst he suffers from never having read Middlemarch--but even still, this is one of those books that when you read it, you find yourself saying "YES" loudly in your head. I Joe Queenan was a writer for two of my favorite, long defunct, magazines: Spy and Movieline. In this book, he discusses his lifelong love of reading and of books as physical objects. Many, if not all, of these essays were originally published as magazine pieces, so there is some repetition of themes--his Francophilia and the angst he suffers from never having read Middlemarch--but even still, this is one of those books that when you read it, you find yourself saying "YES" loudly in your head. I may not share Queenan's exact reading idiosyncrasies, but I certainly have several of my own, and it was very gratifying to read about someone else who loves books so passionately. Plus, as anyone who's read his stuff before knows, he's really funny, although not as snarky here as he was when I first discovered him. Anyone who has ever bought a really old book and then opened it and deeply inhaled that really old book smell will understand this book.
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  • Dannielle Insalaco
    January 1, 1970
    I hated this book. I gave it several chances. I looked up French phrases, tallied words I didn't know (35 when I gave up at 77% complete) . I found him pompous and rude!
  • Shane
    January 1, 1970
    Joe Queenan, a sixty-one year old (he constantly reminds us of his age,) is a consummate and opinionated reader who reads 250 books a year, owns 1300 plus books, has never finished Ulysses or Middlemarch but intends to, and will never get to Catch 22, gives us his unabashed view on the life of a reader.The book is full of observations and comments on the art of reading – good to know that it too has been elevated to an art, so people like me who also read diligently do not feel that we are wasti Joe Queenan, a sixty-one year old (he constantly reminds us of his age,) is a consummate and opinionated reader who reads 250 books a year, owns 1300 plus books, has never finished Ulysses or Middlemarch but intends to, and will never get to Catch 22, gives us his unabashed view on the life of a reader.The book is full of observations and comments on the art of reading – good to know that it too has been elevated to an art, so people like me who also read diligently do not feel that we are wasting our time. There are many observations, too numerous to list, but let me at least try to hit on the points that struck me – they may strike you too, enough to want to read this book, even out of mere curiosity:1) The reader is influenced by which major league sports team is featured in a book – in the case of our author, the NY Yankees are out and the Mets are in as the latter is a downtrodden, downscale and Democratic team.2) Books written by journalists are suspect for they tend to be front-loaded (i.e. the story is in the first few chapters – like the headlines), the rest is fluff.3) Deplores the principle used by libraries in culling books – if they haven’t been checked out for a few years, out they go, despite some being classics written by the greats such as Godimer, Lessing or Grass.4) Dislikes reading guides for book clubs that are usually found at the end of a book, because a book is an argument between a writer and a reader that the latter can never hope to win; and book clubs seek unanimity while good books “invite discord, mayhem, knife fights and blood feuds.”5) Likes the author who is always writing the same book with every new release.6) Loves bricks and mortar bookstores. Dislikes e-books.7) Agrees that bad books have a place in our lives for they keep our brains active. And crummy books will begat more crummy books.8) Agrees that covers sell books.9) Prefers John Updike as an art critic and not a writer.10) Calls book critics servile muttonheads, and blurbs are written by “liars and sycophants to advance the careers of bozos and sluts.” The pet word used in the modern review (copied by those aforementioned sycophants lest they do not get paid) is “astonishing,” a word sanctioned by the National Academy of the Arts. Great words invented by him to label the sycophants are fawnatisti and blurburistas.11) The French idolize writers like the Americans idolize switch hitters, and yet you don’t need fancy locales to write – writers are writing in their heads not in Paris or London.12) Edgar Allan Poe seems to have a lot of museums attached to his name despite having a relatively small oeuvre, and dying young, destitute and drunk.13) Mark Twain’s house is dark and depressing for such a humorous writer.14) Despite all the mayhem associated with the new Scandinavian crime genre, Stockholm is a rather boring city, not a scary place.15) A reading life is an adventure without maps where you meet unexpected soul-mates along the way.16) The reason the average American reads no more than 4 books a year is due to the emotional trauma experienced at the age of 14 while trying to hack through Wuthering Heights.17) Realizes that outgrowing one’s famous writers is also a reality – he has since bid goodbye to John Cheever, Henry Miller and Henning Mankel.18) Famous quotes for the next generations: “If you want to leave your kids well fixed up for life – leave them with books” – a friend. Conversely, Jane Smiley’s quote – ”I have given my children the two cruelest gifts: the experience of perfect family happiness, and the certain knowledge that it will not last,”– has an ominous ring.19) Reading may make you smarter than other people but it will not make you better. And if you don’t get into the hang of reading when you are young you will never get the hang of it.20) Reading is like Christianity – it offers an uplifting alternative to living life on this planet.Queenan read books to escape an abusive and alcoholic father who was a 9th grade dropout; he wanted to be superior to his father. But his father too was a reader who used his reading to cling to hopes that would never materialize. Given the profundity that gushes out of this book, I think Queenan Jr. has achieved his goal.An interesting and thought-provoking book for book lovers.
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  • Maxine
    January 1, 1970
    Joe Queenan is a writer by trade but a reader by inclination. He will read anywhere: on buses, trains, at concerts, at work, even, in his own words "while waiting for people to emerge from comas, while waiting for the Iceman to Cometh". Or Godot, whoever comes first - no matter, if there's a place, there's a book to be read there.According to him, readers are people whose reality, for whatever reason, is lacking. In his case, he grew up poor in a Philadelphia housing project with a violent and a Joe Queenan is a writer by trade but a reader by inclination. He will read anywhere: on buses, trains, at concerts, at work, even, in his own words "while waiting for people to emerge from comas, while waiting for the Iceman to Cometh". Or Godot, whoever comes first - no matter, if there's a place, there's a book to be read there.According to him, readers are people whose reality, for whatever reason, is lacking. In his case, he grew up poor in a Philadelphia housing project with a violent and alcoholic father. Not only did books provide an escape but they allowed him to feel superior to his dad. Interestingly, his dad, despite being a ninth grade drop-out, was also a compulsive reader, something Queenan doesn't explore until near the end of the book.Beside Queenan's life-long love affair with books is a whole host of things he hates. He hates "Cats', the play not the animals (although he might hate the furry little beasts as well) which, of course, leads to a hatred for Andrew Lloyd Webber; he also hates Ayn Rand and the band, Rush, McMansions, alcoholics, and the New York Yankees. Then there are the book-related things. With a few exceptions, he hates small independent bookstores which are run mainly by smug prigs with bad taste and short memories. He also hates book clubs and mediocre books about popular diseases - according to him, these books should be avoided like, well, said popular diseases. Oddly, he has a fondness for really bad books by people like Pamela Anderson and OJ Simpson which, according to him, are great fun to read. He is also a self-professed Luddite who wouldn't allow a Kindle anywhere near his person and he believes there is a special place in Hell for professional book critics.At times, he comes off as a bit of a book-snob even though he doesn't seem to like them very much either. As I was reading, I kept getting an urge to hide my copy of Lord of the Rings and shout belligerently, "yeah, well I finished Middlemarch...twice...and I liked it...a lot, so there, cochon!" He also reads Beaudelaire en Francais, the big showoff! However, in all fairness, I like to think my taste in literature is eclectic but I suspect a better adjective would be 'poor' or perhaps, 'no' so maybe this isn't a fair criticism and, anyway, I don't want to go to hell.You might think after reading this that I hated the book but I didn't - I loved every snide, snarky, humorous word of it. I have never laughed so hard reading a book about books or blushed so hard to recognize some of my own book-related foibles. Too often readers are seen as nerds, people who can't handle reality or drugs. In One for the Books, Mr Queenan makes us look cool. Take that, jocks and hipsters!
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    Apparently, Joe Queenan is a well-known humorist/satirist, but I had never heard of him when I checked out One for the Books from the library. (Books about books are one of my favorite genres.) Apparently, he is also a pretty critical and snarky writer, qualities that don’t usually appeal to me, but I loved this book. (And yes, I have put four or five of Queenan’s other books on my to-read list!) He has very definite ideas about books and reading, such as: “Anyone who could mouth the words, ‘You Apparently, Joe Queenan is a well-known humorist/satirist, but I had never heard of him when I checked out One for the Books from the library. (Books about books are one of my favorite genres.) Apparently, he is also a pretty critical and snarky writer, qualities that don’t usually appeal to me, but I loved this book. (And yes, I have put four or five of Queenan’s other books on my to-read list!) He has very definite ideas about books and reading, such as: “Anyone who could mouth the words, ‘You said exactly what I was thinking!’ to writers…is a nitwit… I never feel this way. I feel that writers say things I would never have thought of saying, and in a way I would have never thought of saying them.”! My favorite story in this book was about Queenan’s refusal to read on in David Benioff’s book City of Thieves after the first few pages revealed that the protagonist, having survived the Siege of Leningrad, emigrated to the United States and became a New York Yankees fan! He says, “I found this revelation crushing. The idea that someone who had lived through the awe-inspiring siege of Leningrad would then voluntarily join the evil empire in the Bronx struck me as morally repellent. So I set the book aside and donated it to my library. Maybe some Yankees fan would enjoy it. I sure wouldn’t.” Readers are a quirky lot. Some of my best friends read books I wouldn’t dream of reading. People I love urge me to read books that I try and hate. Other friends are mystified by my book choices. Joe Queenan is a person who writes in books, unlike me. But like me, he likes real books rather than e-readers. Like him, I make up “book projects” for myself all the time. (Read all the books on a certain bookshelf at home or at the library that I have never read before. Read every ninth book on my to-read list in the fiction section. Read a biography and a book of short stories every month, in addition to other reading.) And maybe most important of all, Joe Queenan has already accepted what I am just beginning to understand: that my life is now more than – maybe even much more than – half over, and even though I’m a fast and constant reader, there are only so many books that I will be able to get through in the remaining years. There is no longer time to waste with bad books, or even mediocre ones. Limited time notwithstanding, this is one of the few books I have read recently that I would read again.
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  • Shaun
    January 1, 1970
    Nice to know there are, in fact, folks out there who have this same maniacal obsession to read books. I don’t mean the ebooks on Kindle or the like, I mean the “real deal.” Joe Queenan captures so well this obsession to read and own books and writes about every aspect of such reading enjoyment and ownership. Very funny book with an acerbic, oft self-deprecating wit.“One for the Books” should be read by anyone who suffers from this odd, maniacal compulsion because it fully encompasses the joy, co Nice to know there are, in fact, folks out there who have this same maniacal obsession to read books. I don’t mean the ebooks on Kindle or the like, I mean the “real deal.” Joe Queenan captures so well this obsession to read and own books and writes about every aspect of such reading enjoyment and ownership. Very funny book with an acerbic, oft self-deprecating wit.“One for the Books” should be read by anyone who suffers from this odd, maniacal compulsion because it fully encompasses the joy, compulsion and/or "sickness" that reading brings about in the mind of one reader as well as every single facet of reading from ordering books on-line (not recommended by Queenan for many reasons) to the joy of "discovering" the books you buy and own while going in to book stores during the "meandering journey of life" to being in a "book club" with irksome windbags (like me) compelled to read books late in life when the "clock of our lives" is winding down and time is short to reading difficult classics (like George Eliot's "Middlemarch" to the author; "Remembrance of Time Past" to me) versus occasionally reading pure drivel or "mind candy" to the "joys of holding a real live honest to God hardbound book" to reading from a wimpy e-reader. Yep; pretty comprehensive and pretty cool, too!The author, Joe Queenan, has read somewhere between 5,000 to 6,000 books as of 2010. He is a humorous but serious satirist (oxymoron there!) who writes exceptionally well and has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman. Look him up on YouTube. His interview with Letterman was great -- that particular episode was classic Letterman -- and the author, Joe Queenan, is exceptionally funny and his book -- "One for the Books" -- is excellent. The only thing about this book and the author I did not like was that Queenan seemed to be a bit of a literary snob; not in the same vein as Clifford Odets, mind you. No, only because Queenan spoke with pride that he never read sci-fi books. Never. Go figure?! There is some pretty awesome sci-fi work out there worthy of admiration. “Stranger in a Strange Land” and “Fahrenheit 451” come to mind.This book was a gift from a fellow member of “the Second Tuesday of the Month ‘Gentlemen’s’ Book Club.” Thank you, Bruce. I truly enjoyed this book. Hopefully, so will you. Four (4) stars only because of Queenan’s perceived literary snobbery.
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  • Patty
    January 1, 1970
    ”The confraternity of serous readers is united by a conviction that literature is an endless series of expeditions, some planned, some unplanned, all elating. None of us are doing this just to show off. Books do not always take us where we want to go, but they always take us places someone would want to go. Avid book readers are people who are at some level dissatisfied with reality.”Many years ago, I listened to a book by Queenan. I can’t remember which of his books, but I was left with a feeli ”The confraternity of serous readers is united by a conviction that literature is an endless series of expeditions, some planned, some unplanned, all elating. None of us are doing this just to show off. Books do not always take us where we want to go, but they always take us places someone would want to go. Avid book readers are people who are at some level dissatisfied with reality.”Many years ago, I listened to a book by Queenan. I can’t remember which of his books, but I was left with a feeling that he is a good guy and writes interesting things. So when I realized that Queenan had written a book about books and reading, I knew I would at least read an essay or two. I stayed for the whole book.I now know that Queenan would be unhappy that I listened to his book. The only thing he would dislike more is if I read one of his books on an electronic device. I am very glad that although we share the Philadelphia area as a birthplace, I have gone south while he went north. Hopefully we will never meet and so he will never know about the audiobook.I had a love, love, hate relationship with these essays. I would finish one and think of all the nice things that Queenan had to say about the reading life. So for the most part the love dominated. However, every so often, Queen’s prejudices, quirks and curmudgeons would get my goat. I am pretty sure that he is paid to annoy and sneer, but he should be willing to admit that he is not the authority for all things books. All and all, I am glad I read this, I just wish Queenan could be a bit nicer about things he doesn’t like.An interesting sidenote… In this book, Queen complains that book reviewers are too nice. He apparently was standing by this review: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/03/boo.... Which inspired this rebuttal: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/13/boo.... As I said, an interesting sidenote.
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  • Sutter Lee
    January 1, 1970
    I'd previously read Queenan's How to be Good and really enjoyed, so I was happy to find One for the Books on Friends of the Library shelf for $1 which would piss off Joe, since he thinks people should show support for authors by buying new books, which I cannot afford. Nor does he think people should get books from libraries. Well, too bad.He doesn't give a damn about anyone agreeing with him on any level, which I admire. I felt validated by books we both enjoy, and amused or bewildered by those I'd previously read Queenan's How to be Good and really enjoyed, so I was happy to find One for the Books on Friends of the Library shelf for $1 which would piss off Joe, since he thinks people should show support for authors by buying new books, which I cannot afford. Nor does he think people should get books from libraries. Well, too bad.He doesn't give a damn about anyone agreeing with him on any level, which I admire. I felt validated by books we both enjoy, and amused or bewildered by those he likes and I don't or vice versa.I filled my copy with penciled notes in margins, under lines, for various reasons.If I needed convincing, which I don't, that we all have our own taste in books for our own reasons, he confirmed it, and I did learn a good lesson: that I should limit my recommendations to those few friends who mostly share my taste. His honesty appeals to me. I loved reading about how totally neurotic and sentimental he is about owning books, and understand how meaningful they are to him, how by jotting down inside the flap the date and place of purchase serves as a journal of sorts, recalling the time and place he bought or read the book, or keeping books for other sentimental reasons. I love how the appearance of a book's cover or jacket will attract or repel him.He's funny and open, laughs at himself. This book got a bit repetitious, because certain chapters were written and published in other publications. He also uses a lot of French, but he reads books in French and spends a lot of time in France. He's got an excellent vocabulary.I also disagree with his opinion that everybody reads solely for escape. Sure, there are times when it is for me, such as in a waiting room or to block out an unavoidable television. As a child, I would be lost in a book on the living room couch, paying no attention to what the rest of my family was doing. Reading nourishes my inner life, enriches me, takes me to another plane and always has. It's very private.
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  • Eustacia Tan
    January 1, 1970
    Reading a book on someone's reading experience is always risky. You either feel like an ignorant person, or you'll disagree with their reading choices. At least One for the Books doesn't make you feel either of those emotions.The author, Joe Queenan, is funny. He's realistic that not everyone sees the same book the same way, he's sometimes dismissful of what is considered classic books, and he acknowledges the overhype. So basically, he just gave me free reign to think "hmm... so he says this, b Reading a book on someone's reading experience is always risky. You either feel like an ignorant person, or you'll disagree with their reading choices. At least One for the Books doesn't make you feel either of those emotions.The author, Joe Queenan, is funny. He's realistic that not everyone sees the same book the same way, he's sometimes dismissful of what is considered classic books, and he acknowledges the overhype. So basically, he just gave me free reign to think "hmm... so he says this, but I don't care if I think that".That is probably a reason why I try not to give bad reviews. I know that I'm not an expert at all topics, and I know not everyone thinks the same way as me. But I do value the opinions of those that I've found have similar views as me (some people's reviews are read because they are entertaining. And because they tell me enough about the book that I don't need to read it).Of course, this is why I hardly read books that are very popular. I think I already know the story, so unless I'm convinced the writing is excellent, I have no need to read it.A good portion of the book is dedicated to considering the limited time a bibliophile has to read and what books he should read. Maybe it's because I don't have um, as many years on me as he does, so I don't feel the urgency. But I'm sure it'll come in time. Check back in 20 years, if people still use blogs that is.Bibliophiles (with a thick skin and don't mind if some of their favourite books is insulted), should definitely read the book. But if you think the world should be loving and hating the same books, stay clear (I do, however, think that Twilight was overhyped even though I've never read the book).Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.First posted at
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  • Joanne Clarke Gunter
    January 1, 1970
    I read books about books and reading because I always think I will find the author to be a kindred spirit, a book soul-mate, a person I could spend hours and hours talking to about books we have read and want to read, and the ones that will have to go unread or can't be re-read because our lives are just too short. I found all of that in this book and this author.Joe Queenan is one well-read guy. He is also funny, irreverent, looks like a cop, but reads books written in French. And, like most re I read books about books and reading because I always think I will find the author to be a kindred spirit, a book soul-mate, a person I could spend hours and hours talking to about books we have read and want to read, and the ones that will have to go unread or can't be re-read because our lives are just too short. I found all of that in this book and this author.Joe Queenan is one well-read guy. He is also funny, irreverent, looks like a cop, but reads books written in French. And, like most readers, he has quite strong opinions about many authors and books and the manner in which books should be read. He expresses disdain more than once for e-readers (e-reader friends, I think you would still like this book) and for borrowing books instead of buying them. Like me, he has to have a printed copy of every book he reads and therefore has tons of books everywhere. Unlike me, he still has the books he read as a child and young adult and often re-reads them or just looks through them to travel back in his mind to a particular time and place. But the best thing about this book, other than the shared love of reading, is his mentioning many books/authors he has read and loved, some unfamiliar to me, which caused me to look them up here on Goodreads and then rush off to buy them. So, I can thank Joe Queenan for the excitement I feel as I look forward to reading those books and comparing our opinions of them. Will I think that William Trevor's novels and short stories are as good as he thinks they are? Will I think that Hans Fallada's book "Every Man Dies Alone" is a "truly unforgettable novel" as he does? I will find out. I highly recommend this book to all avid readers. What fun it was to read this book.
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  • Eve
    January 1, 1970
    'For a long time, I believed that I became addicted to starting books as a child, because books usually begin like a house on fire but then cool off around page seventy.'This quote, taken from Joe Queenan's bibliocentric memoir, comes on page 61. And guess what? I couldn't make it to page 70. I enjoy his writing, but ONE FOR THE BOOKS reads like a laundry list of the 125 or so titles he reads every year. We hear about the fact that he starts them—often dozens at a time—and likes or dislikes them 'For a long time, I believed that I became addicted to starting books as a child, because books usually begin like a house on fire but then cool off around page seventy.'This quote, taken from Joe Queenan's bibliocentric memoir, comes on page 61. And guess what? I couldn't make it to page 70. I enjoy his writing, but ONE FOR THE BOOKS reads like a laundry list of the 125 or so titles he reads every year. We hear about the fact that he starts them—often dozens at a time—and likes or dislikes them, but I for one didn't get much out of that ongoing enumeration. He drops book titles like social climbers drop names, and I would have liked to have known more about the specific books...but when one knocks off ten dozen books in a year, it can be hard to get into detail, I suppose. One excellent observation, however: Queenan believes that voracious readers are the way they are because they'd rather be somewhere else. Having read CLOSING TIME, his account of growing up poor and having an alcoholic for a parent, I can see that connection and really couldn't agree more. But as for this book, I really did want to be somewhere else; too bad this book didn't take me where I wanted to go. No stars offered.
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  • Bryan
    January 1, 1970
    I had a lot of fun with this book--Queenan's collection of articles previously published in venues such as GQ, New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. I certainly didn't expect to. Actually, I have an aversion to this kind of writing, or at least I did, or maybe I do, to everyone except Queenan. What kind of writing is it, you ask? Good question, though I don't know if I have an answer. Diversionary writing, I think. The kind of article you find on the last page of a magazine, a slice-of-lif I had a lot of fun with this book--Queenan's collection of articles previously published in venues such as GQ, New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. I certainly didn't expect to. Actually, I have an aversion to this kind of writing, or at least I did, or maybe I do, to everyone except Queenan. What kind of writing is it, you ask? Good question, though I don't know if I have an answer. Diversionary writing, I think. The kind of article you find on the last page of a magazine, a slice-of-life, complete with the author's foibles, exaggerated for comic effect. This sort of thing is great on the last page of a magazine, but tends to tire me out quickly when they've been collected in book form. It's like David Sedaris, who goes a long way in an incredibly short time. But Sedaris is popular, so maybe it depends on the author. I thought Queenan's ruminations about his life with books was consistently chuckle-worthy--mostly because he was describing the very things that I do with books. Or maybe it isn't the author at all, but the subject matter. At any rate, I'll definitely give Queenan another try, should I run across him again.
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  • Dawn
    January 1, 1970
    I don't think I've ever read a book I've so enjoyed or found so funny where the author, sometimes using less than flattering terms (such as "doofus" or "dolt,") to describe book-lovers, authors, booksellers and even some sports lovers, insults me on more than one occasion (because of the books I might enjoy which he may term "bad", though he does agree we all read "bad" books and some bad books are good for us ...) and I don't mind. Queenan talks about everything from his and others' addiction t I don't think I've ever read a book I've so enjoyed or found so funny where the author, sometimes using less than flattering terms (such as "doofus" or "dolt,") to describe book-lovers, authors, booksellers and even some sports lovers, insults me on more than one occasion (because of the books I might enjoy which he may term "bad", though he does agree we all read "bad" books and some bad books are good for us ...) and I don't mind. Queenan talks about everything from his and others' addiction to books and reading (and why people read, and if being a bibliophile is good or bad or both), what genres and authors he's read (and reread) and wants to read before he dies, to book cover art (if it's unappealing, does that affect a reader's inclination to read it?), to book reviewers (and praise for his own book that he refutes), to bookstores both wonderful and terrible, to his friends/family/strangers, what he's discovered about others' reading habits, and book recommendations. I found I loved every word.
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  • John
    January 1, 1970
    Queenan pretty much lost me early on when he announced that he wouldn't consider audiobooks because he "doesn't do abridged" - HUH? Most books these days are complete text. He also dismisses ebooks as being for scifi dorks, routinely throwing in, "You can't do THAT with a Kindle!" Yawn .... Near the end he proudly quotes his daughter's opinion of library borrowers: "They (libraries) are everything bad about cemeteries without any of the redeeming qualities. When I read a book it is an investment Queenan pretty much lost me early on when he announced that he wouldn't consider audiobooks because he "doesn't do abridged" - HUH? Most books these days are complete text. He also dismisses ebooks as being for scifi dorks, routinely throwing in, "You can't do THAT with a Kindle!" Yawn .... Near the end he proudly quotes his daughter's opinion of library borrowers: "They (libraries) are everything bad about cemeteries without any of the redeeming qualities. When I read a book it is an investment, not a loan. If you don't want to own books, it means you are an asshole." Well ... someone is an asshole, perhaps two someones?I give the book a second star only because on occasion he does manage to get in a few funny anecdotes, and worthwhile observations, among all the condescension and self-congratulation.
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