“November in the anti-April: gray and dreary, the beginning of the end of things rather than rebirth. It’s the month you hunker down- that is if you don’t give up entirely.” (Page 343)
The above comes from the introduction to the month that also happens to be the month of my birth. I looked this up following the pattern of many readers according to the author, Tom Nissley in his introduction to his book, A Reader’s Book of Days. He says most readers will investigate their own month and date of birth before branching out via various means. That was certainly my experience as I went to the chapter on November first upon opening the book. In addition to short quotes from various pieces in the introduction he suggests various books for reading that have links to November. Bleak House by Charles Dickens, New Grub Street by George Gissing, The Death of Jim Loney by James Welch and The Ice Storm by Rick Moody among other titles/authors are suggested.
Since nothing important ever happened until the 20th (my birthday for you non-worshippers) I looked there next. On the 20th of November Nadine Gordimer was born in 1923 and Don DeLillo in 1936. Wolfgang Borchert died in 1947 and in 1995 Robie Macauley. On this date literary agent Marguerite E. Harper warned the 26 year old Elmore Leonard “DON’T GIVE UP YOUR DAY JOB TO WRITE. I say this very seriously.” (Page 365) This was also the day in 1942 when Ernest Hemingway took his sport fishing boat, Pilar, out of Havana Harbor with a crew of five and few weapons to hunt for German submarines. Other interesting items are mentioned on this date, but compared to other dates in the book; this is one of the lighter days in literary history.
This same format is used for each month throughout the book. A brief and interesting introduction to the month with quotes from various books of note before a list of suggested reading that relates to the month in some way. That is followed by the days of the month with a list of births, deaths, and notable events for each day. Also included are bits of trivia and the occasional and clever small black and white drawn illustration. There are approximately 100 illustrations that bring character and enjoyment to the book. A detailed list of acknowledgments along with a 25 page index brings this 464 page book to a close.
As the subtitle makes clear this book features True Tales From The Lives And Works Of Writers For Every Day Of The Year. There is a wealth of interesting information in this book that celebrates both the love of books as well as the writers who write them. Not only can you learn new information –sometimes very funny–about some of your favorite books and authors A Reader’s Book of Days also provides numerous recommendations for a lifetime of exceptional reading.
A Reader’s Book of Days: True Tales From The Lives And Works Of Writers For Every Day Of The Year
Illustrated by Joanna Neborsky
W. W. Norton & Company
Hardback (e-book version available)
Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano Texas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2014
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