By the Book

BytheBookBy the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York Times Book Review
Pamela Paul
Henry Holt and Co. (October 28, 2014), 337 pages
Kindle Edition  $14.99, Hardcover  $19.54
eBook borrowed from the Santa Clara County Library System

By the Book is a weekly column in the Sunday The New York Times Book Review in which authors (and a few non-authors) answer questions posed by the editor. This book contains the initial set of questions and answers.

The questions vary somewhat, but there is a formula:

  • What is on your nightstand right now? or What memorable books have you read in the last year?
  • Which of your own books is your favorite?
  • What book do you wish someone else would write?
  • What book would you recommend the president read?

The column began during President Obama’s first term. Interestingly, in response to the last question, a number of authors said something to the effect of, “I think the President is well read. He doesn’t need my advice.”

By the Book is pleasant reading. It’s like having a jar of candy on your desk. Which means you’d enjoy a piece or two each day. But since I had borrowed the book from the library I had to consume all of the candy in a limited amount of time before returning the jar.

By the Book is best enjoyed as a weekly column and not as a wholesale binge. Or you might want to buy the book and dip in at your leisure.

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