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Let me start off by saying I contributed to the Kickstarter project from whence this book came. I contributed a whopping $15 or $20 or something, whichever price point got me a free e-book.

With that being said, the other night I couldn’t decide what to read next – there are too many options. So, I cracked open my e-book of Start Here to get some ideas, or stay distracted until I settled on what was next. Then, I proceeded to read the entire thing virtual cover to virtual cover. I don’t think that’s how this book was intended to be read, per se, but I did, I couldn’t help myself!

The concept of this book was born, I believe, from a series that had been a fairly regular installment on Book Riot. A contributor would write a road map for those of us that wanted to break into an author’s work, but didn’t know where to start, and were perhaps intimidated by the works, the author’s reputation, the immensity of his or her oeuvre etc. (Side note: I learned the word “oeuvre” from this book, and I can’t wait to school someone in Words With Friends using it.)  The blog installment that caught my eye, and eventually prompted me to contribute to the kickstarter project, was the blog on Haruki Murakami. I thought the “starting here” concept was awesome, added all the books by Murakami mentioned in that post to my to-read list and went on happy. So when I saw they were going to do a whole book on this concept, how could I not hop on that wagon??

This book was, in a word, inspiring. Each chapter was a short introduction to an author and his/her work, where to start and why, and a bit about the works themselves. This is the type of book you keep in your glove compartment for random trips to the bookstore. This is also the type of book you read with Goodreads.com to-read list open on your phone or computer. The contributors made even the most intimidating authors seem accessible, introduced me to new authors, or works I hadn’t yet considered by authors I have read.

Each chapter is easily read in a few short minutes – ideal for quick, on-the-spot assessment while standing amongst the bookshelves. The contributors cut to the chase, with a side of humor, nearly always. Each chapter started with a quote from the author under consideration. I often hate when books do this. They start with a famous quote or two by someone or other and it doesn’t actually mean a whole lot until you’ve read the chapter that follows, but at that point you’re unlikely to go back and re-read the quote to get its full effect, because you just want to move on with the story. Not here, each quote was stand alone awesome and many I bookmarked for future reference. Additionally, the contributors made each author feel totally accessible. Each was clearly a huge fan and passionate about the works of the author he/she was discussing. The goals were to break it down, and make it seem possible for you to tackle any one of the authors covered. Check in the success column.

I walked away from this book feeling positively inspired to read everything mentioned. Several things went on the to-read list, several others will soon. There were even things that went on the to-read list and into the amazon.com cart immediately – like Arthur Miller’s essays – how could I possibly have forgotten that this man was blacklisted by HUAC and his works banned in the Soviet Union? I’m sorry, but bad ass. I will be returning, time and again, to this book – especially when I’m stuck on what to read next. This book is the Avid Reader’s Guide to the Amazing Authors’ Galaxy. (Towel not included).

Stuck on what to read? Want to try out a new author? Start Here.

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