ATG Book of the Week: Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books

Browsings a year of readingTitle: Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books
Author: Michael Dirda
Hardcover: ISBN: 9781605988443, $24.95
Imprint: New York : Pegasus Books, 2015.

“…Dirda’s latest volume collects fifty of his witty and wide-ranging reflections on literary journalism, book collecting, and the writers he loves. Reaching from the classics to the post-moderns, his allusions dance from Samuel Johnson, Ralph Waldo Emerson and M. F. K. Fisher to Marilynne Robinson, Hunter S. Thompson, and David Foster Wallace. Dirda’s topics are equally diverse: literary pets, the lost art of cursive writing, book inscriptions, the pleasures of science fiction conventions, author photographs, novelists in old age, Oberlin College, a year in Marseille, writer’s block, and much more, not to overlook a few rants about Washington life and American culture. As admirers of his earlier books will expect, there are annotated lists galore—of perfect book titles, great adventure novels, favorite words, essential books about books, and beloved children’s classics, as well as a revealing peek at the titles Michael keeps on his own nightstand. Funny and erudite, occasionally poignant or angry, Browsings is a celebration of the reading life, a fan’s notes, and the perfect gift for any booklover.”




“A rambunctious personality wanders the aisles of rare-book stores; musing about language, aging and traffic; and catching up with fellow aficionados of the weird and the obscure. The innumerable forgotten books he catalogs are captivating.” (The New York Times)


“A set of appealingly conversational meditations on the life of the mind. The author’s personality is so vivid and immediate that a readerly rapport is established almost instantly. The hallmarks of the Dirdanian sensibility includes a wry, slightly avuncular tone that wears its erudition slightly, a pronounced interest in genre fiction, and a sturdy sort of common-sense approach to critical theory, all with a light dusting of loveable curmudgeon and a sprinkle of raffish boulevardier. Cheerfully eccentric, Dirda eschews the lofty pronouncement of Olympian judgment, preferring instead a hale and friendly exploration of shared enthusiasm.” (The Washington Post)


“This joy-filled, reflective collection makes perfect bedside reading. Literate but never snobby, this collection of essays surely will entertain and enlighten book lovers of all stripes.” (Booklist)


“Beyond bibliophilism, this is a work about how reading stories builds relationships―between readers and writers and between readers and readers―and how these relationships change and shape one’s life. Dirda’s exuberance is infectious, and the book is hard to put down. Clearly this author recognizes that the most important quality of a book is the pleasure it gives.” (Library Journal)


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