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A Passion For Books by Harold Rabinowitz

A Passion For Books (1999)

by Harold Rabinowitz, Rob Kaplan (Editor)

Other authors: Ray Bradbury (Foreword)

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1,468177,958 (3.82)42
"When I have a little money, I buy books. And if any is left, I buy food and clothing." --Desiderius Erasmus Those who share Erasmus's love of those curious bundles of paper bound together between hard or soft covers know exactly how he felt. These are the people who can spend hours browsing through a bookstore, completely oblivious not only to the passage of time but to everything else around them, the people for whom buying books is a necessity, not a luxury. A Passion for Books is a celebration of that love, a collection of sixty classic and contemporary essays, stories, lists, poems, quotations, and cartoons on the joys of reading, appreciating, and collecting books. This enriching collection leads off with science-fiction great Ray Bradbury's Foreword, in which he remembers his penniless days pecking out Fahrenheit 451 on a rented typewriter, conjuring up a society so frightened of art that it burns its books. This struggle--financial and creative--led to his lifelong love of all books, which he hopes will cosset him in his grave, "Shakespeare as a pillow, Pope at one elbow, Yeats at the other, and Shaw to warm my toes. Good company for far-travelling." Booklovers will also find here a selection of writings by a myriad of fellow sufferers from bibliomania. Among these are such contemporary authors as Philip Roth, John Updike, Umberto Eco, Robertson Davies, Nicholas Basbanes, and Anna Quindlen; earlier twentieth-century authors Christopher Morley, A. Edward Newton, Holbrook Jackson, A.S.W. Rosenbach, William Dana Orcutt, Robert Benchley, and William Targ; and classic authors such as Michel de Montaigne, Gustave Flaubert, Petrarch, and Anatole France. Here also are entertaining and humorous lists such as the "Ten Best-Selling Books Rejected by Publishers Twenty Times or More," the great books included in Clifton Fadiman and John Major's New Lifetime Reading Plan, Jonathan Yardley's "Ten Books That Shaped the American Character," "Ten Memorable Books That Never Existed," "Norman Mailer's Ten Favorite American Novels," and Anna Quindlen's "Ten Big Thick Wonderful Books That Could Take You a Whole Summer to Read (but Aren't Beach Books)." Rounding out the anthology are selections on bookstores, book clubs, and book care, plus book cartoons, and a specially prepared "Bibliobibliography" of books about books. Whether you consider yourself a bibliomaniac or just someone who likes to read, A Passion for Books will provide you with a lifetime's worth of entertaining, informative, and pleasurable reading on your favorite subject--the love of books. A Sampling of the Literary Treasures in A Passion for Books Umberto Eco's "How to Justify a Private Library," dealing with the question everyone with a sizable library is inevitably asked: "Have you read all these books?" Anatole Broyard's "Lending Books," in which he notes, "I feel about lending a book the way most fathers feel about their daughters living with a man out of wedlock." Gustave Flaubert's Bibliomania, the classic tale of a book collector so obsessed with owning a book that he is willing to kill to possess it. A selection from Nicholas Basbanes's A Gentle Madness, on the innovative arrangements Samuel Pepys made to guarantee that his library would survive "intact" after his demise. Robert Benchley's "Why Does Nobody Collect Me"--in which he wonders why first editions of books by his friend Ernest Hemingway are valuable while his are not, deadpanning "I am older than Hemingway and have written more books than he has." George Hamlin Fitch's extraordinarily touching "Comfort Found in Good Old Books," on the solace he found in books after the death of his son. A selection from Anna Quindl… (more)



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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
A bibliophile's dream and has to be right up there near the top of the list of books about books. I absolutely loved it. Some real treats in here including Flaubert's short story - Bibliomania, reading lists, some fantastic essays on collecting and also featuring pretty much every name you could ever think of in the world of bibliophiles and bibliomaniacs. Superb. ( )
  MarianneHusbands | Jun 6, 2017 |
The Subtitle for this book is:
A Book Lover's Treasury of Stories, Essays, Humor, Lore, and Lists on Collecting, Reading, Borrowing, Lending, Caring for, and Appreciating Books.

which is pretty much the most accurate synopsis of the book possible. It's an excellent collection of bits: cartoons, lists, quotes, poems and essays that range in length from one page to twenty. I think there's even a curse upon those who steal books in here somewhere.

Everything included revolves around the simple love (or obsession) for books, as objects more than the stories they contain. That's not to say the joy of reading isn't part of the whole, but this collection focuses on the joy, the need, of owning the books themselves. Readers who've gone wholly digital, or prefer a minimalist housekeeping approach won't find much to love here.

As with any collection of writings from various authors and times, some are better than others, but there were very few I just didn't care for and then only because I either found the writing too dense or dated or the subject matter not quite interesting enough to enthral me. There were maybe three all up that I wouldn't have missed if they were left out. Given the table of contents runs to two and a half pages, that's a pretty good ratio.

The authors also include a 6 page bibliography at the end of other books about books, with the ones they used to create A Passion for Books marked with an asterisk. ( )
  murderbydeath | Oct 11, 2016 |
One of the first 'essays' is by the 2nd-listed editor, Kaplan. It was extremely boring, because just about all he said about how he incorporates a new book into his personal library would be irrelevant if he only used goodreads and wasn't a hoarder.

Speaking of hoarders, this and the previous essay are by people who admit they may never read the majority of the books they own. Damned shame.

ETA done. Read much, including at least the first paragraphs of every piece.

Ok, the whole thing is full of people who spend more time hunting down first editions than actually reading. Frustrating. I guess, if you're a 'collector' you might like this book a lot. But, then again, I'm not sure why - because it's never going to be worth anything the way a first Hemingway is or whatever.

Two bookdarts:
I love Robert Benchley's humor. He has an essay in here asking 'Why Does Nobody Collect Me?' Well, Bob, I bet you're at least a little collectible now. Some of us even appreciate you and your insights into human nature more than we appreciate your friend & rival Hemingway. Or maybe the whole essay was tongue-in-cheek. Either way, I loved reading it.

But I was frustrated by Anna Quindlen's piece. First she's bemoaning the loss of literacy due computers, admitting to be an early-adopter of a laptop but still wishing everyone still loved paper books - then she tells shares in the despair an elderly friend feels as she reveals I can't read any longer." Um, hello? Computers could enable her to be still reading, what with magnification and then text-to-speech!

Bottom-line, I need to stop looking at Books about Books, and getting frustrated. I need to focus on Books about Libraries and Books about Stories and Books about Reading. Recommendations welcome!" ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 5, 2016 |
I like books about books because it's nice to read about one's obsession, and partly out of curiosity and satisfaction that there are people out there who have this obsession worse than I do. People who collect books can be very strange and interesting. It's nice to know that my hoarding tendencies are rather mild compared to some people who are only remembered precisely for their book hoarding, um excuse me, book collecting. This book is much more than just a collection of anecdotes, however, about these strange, but interesting people. As the subtitle explains, it contains essays and lists, instructions and warnings, humor and intrigue. I thought I'd read this book and then donate it so that this lore could be passed on and enjoyed by someone else, but I can't part with this book. It contains, within the essays and other wonderful readings, some very useful information on how to take care of your books, how to start a collection, what to look for, what to beware of -- not that I am that sort of collector, I can't afford, nor do I have an interest (not that I would refuse if offered one) in finding 1st editions, or rare and valuable books, but it is useful information for a book lover nevertheless. Also it feeds another, slight, obsession of mine. Collecting lists of books I would like to read some day. Some of the books mentioned in the various writings are not ones I've ever heard of, but the writer spoke so lovingly of them that I too want to experience the joy they experienced in reading these books. ( )
  Marse | Jul 2, 2015 |
This volume bills itself as "A Book Lover's Treasury of Stories, Essays, Humor, Lore, and Lists on Collecting, Reading, Borrowing, Lending, Caring for, and Appreciating Books." Which I guess about covers it. The various essays and snippets here span a period from the 1990s all the way back to Petrarch, but it seems to be dominated mainly by pieces from the first half of the 20th century. Perhaps because of that, there was, to me, a sort of vaguely musty feeling about it all, a slight sense of stuffiness, despite the humorous bits. I also can't escape the feeling that the writers featured here are mostly men -- and virtually all of them are men -- to whom "book" primarily means "leather-bound work of Important Literature," something that mildly offends my more egalitarian book-loving soul. For my personal taste, there's not nearly enough about the joys of reading, and a little too much about the joys of collecting valuable first editions.

Still, there's some enjoyable stuff here. Robert Benchley's plaintive lament about how people collect Hemingway's books but not his is wonderfully funny. Although I think my favorite piece may be A. Edward Netwon's "What is the Matter with the Bookshop?", partly because it's delightfully written, but partly because I find its subject matter amusing. It's singing a very familiar tune: bookstores are not doing well these days, partly because people are so distracted by other forms of entertainment that nobody reads much anymore, and partly because independent booksellers have trouble competing with large companies that sell books cheaply as a loss leader for their other merchandise. What's amusing about that? The fact that it was written in 1921. Oh, the more things change! ( )
2 vote bragan | Mar 27, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Harold Rabinowitzprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kaplan, RobEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Bradbury, RayForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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"Without books, God is silent, justice dormant, natural science at a stand, philosophy lame, letters dumb, and all things involved in darkness." -Thomas V. Bartholin
"Disparage no book, for it is also a part of the world." -Rabbi Nachman of Bratszlav
Great Soul, Great Poet, Great Jew, and Great Friend
who is just beginning to appreciate
the joys of reading and books
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In February 1998 Sotheby's in New York held a series of auctions of a rather unique collection of books.
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A Passion for Books by Harold Rabinowitz and Rob Kaplan is NOT the same book as A Passion for Books by Terry Terry W. Glaspey (ISBN 1565077814) and NOT the same book as A Passion for Books by Dale Salwak (ISBN 0312218842)

Please keep them separate. Thank you.
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