The Bibliophile's Devotional: 365 Days of Literary Classics - Hallie Ephron

I think of Hallie Ephron’s The Bibliophile’s Devotional (Adams Media, $16.95) as an amuse bouche of books: each day it offers a small bite of something good.  Ephron’s hope is that these tidbits (she calls the book a “tasting menu”) will tempt you to run to your favorite (local independent) bookstore and get one of the books she describes.   There are many ways to enjoy this book; you can treat it like a true devotional, reading one page a day, or you can look up significant dates in your life and see which book corresponds.  (My birthday is The Hobbit.)  You may want to use it to learn about interesting books you’ve never gotten the chance read (so many books so little time!). Or follow it as a ready-made list of must-reads.

Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Life in Joyce's Masterpiece - Declan Kiberd

Can attaining “classic” status be the kiss of death for a book? Ulysses And Us (W.W. Norton, $28.95) is an enthusiastic, knowledgeable tour of Joyce’s masterpiece by a guide dedicated to showing readers they can tackle the novel on their own. Declan Kiberd, an Irish literature professor, removes the book from the Empyrean clouds and puts it back where it belongs, in the Dublin of 16 June 1904. He reminds us that Joyce wrote about ordinary people for ordinary people, that he was a socialist and felt more at home among workers than intellectuals. His narrative unfolds through mundane errands, pub chats, jokes, a funeral, a cuckolding, and plenty of drink. The characters observe the goings-on and the passers-by, and out of this modern welter of activity Joyce conveys the dignity and wisdom of everyday life, intending his story to offer a few chuckles and help people cope. Now, what’s so intimidating about that?

Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Life in Joyce's Masterpiece By Declan Kiberd Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393339093
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - November 22nd, 2010

Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife - Francine Prose

I was hooked from the minute I picked up Francine Prose’s Anne Frank: The Book, The Life and The Afterlife (HarperCollins, $24.99). I knew the story of Anne’s short life, though I hadn’t read The Diary of a Young Girl. I was intrigued by Prose’s assertion that the Diary be considered as literature, with a capital L, and its author as a writer, not just a victim. This book, which has touched millions in its half century, chronicles the experience of eight people hiding  in a few small rooms because they were Jews in Nazi-occupied Holland. Prose tells three stories here. One concerns Anne’s revisions; she wrote and redrafted as many as ten pages a day. She wanted her account to live on. Prose also tells the remarkable story of how the journal survived; tossed aside as worthless papers while the obvious valuables were looted, the diary lay forgotten until Otto Frank returned. Then there’s the story of the diary’s U.S. publication. Rejected by most major publishers, it languished unwanted until a young editor named Judith Jones read it. She couldn’t put it down. That was enough to persuade Doubleday to publish it.

Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife By Francine Prose Cover Image
ISBN: 9780061430800
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - October 5th, 2010