One For The Books – Book Review

Joe Queenan writes for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and other such publications. He has also published several books. His newest book is One for the Books, a book about books and his experiences and feelings as a life-long reader.

Queenan’s book is engaging and humorous, even when he is bashing writers and books, sometimes famous ones. One for the Books could probably be described as a love story about books. Queenan admits he’s obsessed with books, and would rather read than attend concerts, organize his house, or drive.

Queenan has several running jokes throughout the book. The main one is that George Eliot’s Middlemarch will be the last book he finishes before he dies. Apparently he’s tried to read it numerous times and can’t quite make it through. Another is “this couldn’t happen with a Kindle.” Queenan professes to be a Luddite when it comes to e-readers, and is proud of it.

One for the Books is well worth reading, even if you disagree with Queenan’s taste in books. He talks about what one can learn from books, the connections one can make, and how one writer can lead a reader to discover new writers. Queenan also shares insights gained from his years of reading and writing, and those he got from others. One that particularly struck me can be found on page 213 of his book. He says, “When I asked my daughter if reading was escapism, she answered: ‘No, reading is the opposite of escapism. It is introversion so extreme that you come out the other side of yourself.'”

There you have it.