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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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2402048,049 (3.67)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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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 |
Nice book and spot-on funny in places. I'm not sure that Joe and I share a lot in common regarding the books we choose to read, but his observations about readers and non-readers throughout the book are on the mark. ( )
  untraveller | Mar 23, 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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