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One for the Books by Joe Queenan

One for the Books (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Joe Queenan

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2472146,499 (3.66)21
Title:One for the Books
Authors:Joe Queenan
Info:Viking Adult (2012), Hardcover, 256 pages
Collections:Your library

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One for the Books by Joe Queenan (2012)



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I had so much fun reading this book! It is a comfort to know that I am not the only crazy book person out there. This man puts me to shame.

I will admit that at first I was skeptical as to whether or not I would like this guy. He seemed a bit pretentious at first and I was worried that he was going to make me so angry that I would have to stop reading. However, as I went on, I realized that while he is a highly well-read man, and has read some highly obscure literature that I would probably never touch, we also have favorites in common. That, and he admits to enjoying the odd bit of genre fiction, which is a positive check in my book.

While I by no means agreed with him 100% of the time (I happen to think a book club would be fun with the right people and I love getting suggestions about what to read next) I did find myself agreeing with him on various things, like how e-readers would never work for me because every one of my books is attached to a memory, and that comparing brand new authors to say, Jane Austen, is the dumbest and worst thing you can do. I also have to say that his rant about the Yankees and Yankees fans it spot on and beautiful. (They don't actually know the pain of disappointment. They think they do, but they don't.)

There were times (like the Yankees rant) were I actually found myself laughing out loud in public places. Thus getting strange looks from strangers. Some of these times were because what he said was just generally funny and other times it was because I was just so happy to hear that someone had the same opinion I did.

While he does seem rather immovable in his ways, and while I do believe that he should be a little nicer about some people's taste in books, I truly enjoyed what he had to say. He even made me feel better about not finishing a book, no matter how far into it I am, when I'm not enjoying it. This has been a constant struggle for me, and reading about his same struggle and how he views it now, I feel that I will now save time in the future by not slogging through books that just aren't working for me. It basically comes down to "why waste the time?". Why it took this book to make me realize that, I don't know, but it did and I am grateful for it. If only I had that mentality when I was slowly making my way through Anna Karenina and Lady Chatterley's Lover. ( )
  kell1732 | Jan 25, 2015 |
A collection of essays by Joe Queenan about his life in books, from memories of the bookmobile that visited his impoverished childhood neighborhood, to his compulsive habit of starting way too many books at once, to his experiences as a young man living in Paris and obsessing over French writers.

This... was an interesting reading experience for me. Because, first and foremost, Queenan does a whole bunch of things that annoy me. He constantly name-drops obscure literary works he's sure you've probably never heard of, but which he's clearly proud that he has. He off-handedly dismisses entire genres as trash and lobs insults at the people who read them. And by the third repetition, I was thoroughly tired of hearing "You can't do that with a Kindle." (Usually about things you could, in fact, do perfectly well with a Kindle.) The older I get, the less patience I have with this kind of book snobbishness, and several times I found myself expressing my opinions of Queenan's opinions by waving a middle finger in the direction of the page. Childish and pointless, I know, but strangely satisfying.

And yet... And yet, I can't say I disliked this book. In fact, overall, I found it fairly entertaining. Queenan's snark, however poorly aimed, is often pretty funny, and his curmudgeonliness is not without a certain acerbic charm. It helps, I think, that he comes across as playing it up a bit for effect, and that while he is certainly judgmental, he doesn't seem genuinely mean-spirited. So even when I was flipping him the bird, it was more in amusement than in real anger. Plus, even when our reading tastes, habits, and attitudes are diametrically opposed -- as they certainly are in this case -- I apparently just can't help but feel a certain warmth towards a fellow passionate book lover.

So. Am I ever going to read anything else by Queenan? Probably not. Did I mostly enjoy reading this one, almost despite myself? Yeah. Yeah, I did.

Rating: I'm going to call this one 3.5/5, with the caveat that if I were rating how much I agreed with the guy, that would be a much lower number. ( )
4 vote bragan | Oct 21, 2014 |
Mildly amusing. Joe Queenan focusses his gentle wit on a passion that has stayed with him from his earliest days in Philadelphia to a bedsit in Paris and on to life in Tarrytown, New York: books. Buying, reading, and keeping books. Queenan’s love for his prized possessions is clear. As are his tastes. And even more his dis-tastes. Alas for poor Middlemarch; it takes a beating here. It is one of those books that Queenan will hold on his shelf to his dying days, unloved and unread. But don’t take it to heart. Joe Queenan is always on the verge of poking fun, and just as often makes himself, and his peculiar habits, the butt of his jibes. Perhaps Eliot will catch his fancy in a year or two.

Although presented in the form of chapters, this book has the feel of newspaper columns that have been reconstituted into a new whole. The result is that there is a fair bit of repetition. But that might not bother a reader who is merely dipping into the book rather than reading it straight through. The other unintended challenge to the reader comes from a recurring theme. Queenan regularly declares that some books are not worth reading. He details many that do not live up to one or more of his criteria. But the question on many readers’ minds will be whether this book itself would be worth reading for Queenan. I suspect it wouldn’t. However that is no bar to anyone else enjoying it.

Although his humour is less cutting, less painful, less extreme than many other journalistic humorists, there remains much to enjoy here. Dip in at your leisure. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Aug 23, 2014 |
Was pleased to see someone into books who was from Philadelphia, not NYC or Boston (the usual). Although some of the essays I disagreed with a little, and the tone occasionally verged on bitter, I did agree with a lot of his ideas, and I got some ideas for books to put on the to-read list. ( )
  sriemann | Aug 11, 2014 |
Joe amused me greatly at times, but it was the cascade of negative thoughts that wore me down in the end. With humor, there's always that possibility that you JUST WON'T GET IT sometimes—I think that this was one of those times for me. He just seemed annoying, especially when he was going after booksellers as a group of self-centered egotists that having nothing to offer to any book shopper. On that score, FO Joe.

By the book's end I thought he wasn't as thoroughly annoying and even funny on occasion. Either I was seeing a better side to him, or I knew the book would be ending for me soon. ( )
  jphamilton | Jul 27, 2014 |
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To Skip McGovern, Lover of Books
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The average American reads four books a year, and the average American finds this more than sufficient.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670025828, Hardcover)

One of America’s leading humorists and author of the bestseller Closing Time examines his own obsession with books

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:58 -0400)

One of America's leading humorists and author of the bestseller "Closing Time" examines his own obsession with books.

(summary from another edition)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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