Author: Pamela Paul

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A Few Author Insights via By the Book

November 12, 2014 Book Review, reviews 5

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

A Few Author Insights via By the BookBy the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York Times Book Review by Pamela Paul
Published by Henry Holt & Co on October 28th, 2014
Genres: Non-Fiction
Pages: 336
Source: complimentary review copy
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from the book jacket

Every Sunday, readers of The New York Times Book Review turn with anticipation to see which novelist, historian, short story writer, or artist will be the subject of the popular By the Book feature.  These wide-ranging interviews are conducted by Pamela Paul, the editor of the Book Review, and here she brings together sixty-five of the most intriguing and fascinating exchanges. . .

With a star-studded list of authors interviewed, from J.K. Rowling to Arnold Schwarzenegger to Donna Tartt and Stephen King, By the Book is a book-lover’s dream.  It’s kind-of like the Entertainment Tonight of the writing world, only without the flashy dresses, bright lights and intro music!

By the Book delves deeper into the lives of familiar authors and others on the fringes of the literary world.  Many of the interviews have similar questions, though not all.  It was interesting to see of those authors who did have similar questions how far-ranging the responses were across the board!  Just goes to show how incredibly unique us humans are.

Most intriguing interview question?  If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?  Malcolm Gladwell’s response is particularly insightful 😉 The new Lee Child, of course!  It might be nice for him to escape for a few hours to a world where one man can solve every one of the world’s problems with nothing but his wits and his fists.  Which has me wondering, do you think President Obama reads these interviews and presidential book recommendations?

Interview answer I could most relate to?  Sheryl Sandberg in response to What were your favorite books as a child? Do you have a favorite character of hero from one of those books? can I be Shery’s new best friend?!?  I wanted to be Meg Murray, the admittedly geeky heroine of A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle. . . . .if you’re new to The Novel Life you may want to read my love letter to Madeleine L’Engle.

Had me scrambling for a dictionary?  Question posed to Ira Glass You studied semiotics at Brown.  How has that informed the way you read novels?  what the heck is semiotic?  for those like me who are unfamiliar with the term ~ it is the study of signs and sign-using behaviour, especially in language.  I wonder if Paul deliberately used $5 words for this particular interview. . .

Left me proud to have read his books?  The interview with Dave Eggers reveals his total dedication to encouraging young people to read and to write. Eggers cofounded 826 National and annually he works with high school students to put together an anthology of The Best American Nonrequired Reading.

In these interviews it is easy to get a sense of who is grossly opinionated, who has a funny bone and who you could see yourself hanging out with companionably with maybe a cup of coffee or a cold beer.  The interviews of authors I already adore mostly made me love them even more.  This book would make a wonderful Christmas present for a reader in your life {or yourself!}.  It’s one of those books that you don’t read at one sitting but keep nearby and read an interview here and there.  I’m hoping By the Book will become an annual tradition!

Please note that the quotes used were from an advanced reader’s copy and may be edited in the final copy.

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