Not a lot of extra time to read? Well, there may be some hope for you. Hallie Ephron’s new book, The Bibliophile’s Devotional, includes fascinating one page blurbs about 365 books -- one for each day of the year.
Visit here to learn tidbits about the authors of classics and their stories, facts that you may never have known, even if you read the entire book. Such as, did you know that Huckleberry Finn was described as “singularly flat, stale and unprofitable” by one reviewer? Or that Virginia Woolf predicted that her A Room of One’s Own would get “no criticism, except of the evasive jocular kind.” Hallie tells all in her new book.
Book lovers by nature, Baby Boomers often have a different slant on the printed word. Having been forced to read certain classics when we were in school, we are now free to deem any book we like a classic. And what better way to learn what they are than by reading about one every day for a year?
I had the pleasure of meeting Hallie several months ago and she graciously agreed to an interview about her favorite books and what all went in The Bibliophile’s Devotional. Enjoy this conversation with BoomThis.com's favorite bibliophile.
BT!: Did you ever wish there were more -- or less – days in the year as you worked on the book? You mentioned that you had a little head start since you had researched and written 1001 Books for Every Mood, but still that's quite a bit of whittling.
Hallie: Actually, 365 is a good number to work with when you're talking classic books. There were so many that HAD to be included like Ulysses, and Of Human Bondage, and Moby Dick, and The Bell Jar, and Tom Sawyer and Lolita and Great Expectations and Mrs. Dalloway and, and, and . . . So that when it came to more contemporary titles I had to be picky-picky. There were so many I'd have liked to include but ran out of space. Like A Night to Remember (Titanic: It was a book before Leo and Kate let the wind sweep over them on the ship's bow.) Or A River Runs through It with its wonderful short stories, written in poetic prose, in which author Norman MacLean ruminates on fly fishing and God.
BT!: Are all the books in your new book also listed in 1001 Books?
Hallie: Most of them are. But somehow I'd left out Edith Wharton from 1001 Books so I got a chance to rectify that by including her in The Bibliophile’s Devotional. And the entries in the new book are much longer -- the opening line, a half-page synopsis, a juicy tidbit or two about the book or the author or the history of its publication, and a quote from another author or a contemporary reviewer.
BT!: Baby Boomers may be torn between reading the single book selection for a particular day or paging ahead as soon as they crack the cover to read about every book at one sitting. What's a Boomer to do?
Hallie: If I'd put this book in 1001 Books for Every Mood, I'd have awarded it the "toilet" icon -- in other words, a book that can be read in short sittings. Or you can read one entry at night before sleeping. So either keep it by the bed or in the bathroom, depending on your style.
BT: All readers will no doubt want to check to see if their favs are included in your book. Can you hazard a guess as to which book may be the all time Baby Boomer favorite?
Hallie: Good question. I'd guess Pride and Prejudice or To Kill a Mockingbird or Anne of Green Gables -- because when it comes to the classics, things don't change. My favorites -- the more contemporary books of our time that have stuck with me? Those would include titles like Bastard Out of Carolina; The Color Purple; One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; The Joy Luck Club; Stones from the River and of course, Pride and Prejudice.
BT: In your book you have included many of the books we read in our growing-up years. Having included them in your new book, does this mean that in your eyes they have stood the test of time in terms of becoming or on their way to becoming "classics"?
Hallie: I'm a book reviewer, but I'd never claim to be a “literary critic”. I love reading books, talking about them, finding out what other people love-love-love to read. In my opinion, the books I've included in this new book have stood the test of time . . . so far. Greatness takes perspective.
BT!: Is there a particular audience that is more geared to your book? Or did you write it keeping Book Lovers of all ages and stripes in mind?
Hallie: It's for bibliophiles -- in particular, people who love to read great works of fiction. I even included a few classics written for kids (like Wind in the Willows and Holes), the occasional collection by great short story writers (like Flannery O'Connor's and Grace Paley's), a lot of sci-fi (like 1984 and Ender's Game and Dune and Neuromancer), some romance (like Rebecca, Jane Eyre, and The Foundling), and even a couple of horror titles (Dracula and Frankenstein, of course).
BT!: I have a friend who always says he wishes he could retire because then he would read all of the classics. Then he laughs because he didn't read them when he was younger so what makes him think he will wrestle with them today?
Hallie: I always tell people to try listening to hard books -- audio gives me access to many of those really tough books that I could never tackle on the printed page.
BT!: If a book lover had to choose RIGHT NOW what books to take to a desert island, what would you suggest?
Hallie: I wish I could give you an answer. But I'd recommend you sit down with The Bibliophile's Devotional and make yourself a list. For a desert island, I'd pick the ones that are really long and entertaining and set in a cool climate!
To receive a “book a day” listing from Hallie’s book, sign up and follow Hallie’s Tweets on Twitter.
To buy a signed copy with free shipping, visit Mystery Lovers Bookshop. To read more about the book, including a sample entry, visit Hallie's website.
By Teresa K. Flatley