Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

One for the Books by Joe Queenan

One for the Books (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Joe Queenan, Francesca Belanger (Designer), Thomas Ng (Cover designer), Dorothy Handelman (Photographer)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2972237,787 (3.7)24
Title:One for the Books
Authors:Joe Queenan (Author)
Other authors:Francesca Belanger (Designer), Thomas Ng (Cover designer), Dorothy Handelman (Photographer)
Info:Viking : New York
Collections:Your library, Lastc, Gift
Tags:Books About Books, Literary Criticism

Work details

One for the Books by Joe Queenan (2012)



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 24 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
I enjoyed this collection of essays about books and the reading life. Did you know that the average American reads about 4 books a year and finds this "more than sufficient"? There was much discussion about why we read, and Queenan states that, "no matter what they may tell themselves most book lovers do not read primarily to obtain information or to while away the time or to better themselves or even, in the words of C.S. Lewis, to know that they are not alone. They read to escape to a more exciting rewarding world." Hmmm--I'm not sure I agree--What about you?

Other remarks of his that struck me related to how we read as we get older. After turning 64, Queenan states that he now only buys about 20 books a year, and that he is relying on his 1374 unread books to get him through the rest of his life. (He reads between 100 and 200 books a year). He states that as we age, "Life becomes a zero-sum affair, where every second spent reading mediocre books is time that could be spent reading great ones." Somewhat more depressingly, he also states that any book you read after age 60 "could be your last."

Unlike others in the "professional" book world, Queenan loves amateur reviewers like those on Amazon, because they are "fearless" when it comes to trashing high-profile authors with whom mainstream reviewers would hesitate mixing it up. However, he is not fond of public libraries, because "the wheat and the chaff are intermingled," and they are "filled with books I have made a deliberate point of never reading."

Beyond being full of witty thoughts about reading and books, One for the Books, is also full of some good reading recommendations, some I had heard of, but many that were more erudite.

3 1/2 stars ( )
1 vote arubabookwoman | Dec 20, 2015 |
I'm really enjoying this book and Joe's offhand manner. I no longer feel bad reading a number of books at once. I can't beat Joe's tallies, 15-35 at once!
Finished just now ...
It's a wonderful book. Amazing the number of books Joe has read. I was a joy to read. He has a clever way with words. His vocabulary is wide, I needed to use an electronic dictionary often. ( )
  GeoffSC | May 31, 2015 |
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. ( )
1 vote 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. ( )
5 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 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
To Skip McGovern, Lover of Books
First words
The average American reads four books a year, and the average American finds this more than sufficient.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:27 -0400)

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

(summary from another edition)

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
1 avail.
21 wanted
1 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.7)
0.5 1
1 1
2 4
2.5 1
3 19
3.5 15
4 31
4.5 5
5 13

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 109,159,929 books! | Top bar: Always visible