Sunday, October 25, 2009

THE BIBLIOPHILE'S DEVOTIONAL - Hallie Ephron

This isn't going to be a review in the sense that we've become accustomed to my reviews but that's because THE BIBLIOPHILE'S DEVOTIONAL isn't a typical book. This is a beautiful collection of all kinds of books; it is exactly what the title indicates, a devotional. So the book is broken down by each day of the year. And each day of the year contains a new title.

Hallie Ephron has compiled an amazing selection of fiction (THE MALTESE FALCON), non-fiction (ALL OVER BUT THE SHOUTIN'), books of essays (PILGRIM AT TINKER CREEK), poetry (A CONEY ISLAND OF MIND) and epic poems (THE ODYSSEY) . She ranges from classics (DON QUIXOTE) to modern titles (MYSTIC RIVER) that will likely become classics. Books we categorize as adult (LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE), as well as titles we've adored since childhood (A WRINKLE IN TIME). The titles come from all different cultures, genders, religions, genres and time periods. It is truly a diverse record of our world's literature.

O.k., I've given you a rundown of the types of titles, but what does she do with those titles? If you have more self control than me and can keep yourself to reading each day on its day, and not jumping ahead, each day you will find the new title with its first line or first two lines in a few cases. This is followed by a section that not only summarizes what the book is about but provides some background on the book. For example, AS I LAY DYING

"Published in 1930 when Faulkner was working nights at a power plant, he proclaimed it a 'tour de force.' He was right, though many contemporary critics were not convinced."
And after each summary section, Ephron has included a quote about the book.

In her introduction, Ephron calls THE BIBLIOPHILE'S DEVOTIONAL a "tasting menu." That is an excellent description. As I've made my way through this year of books, I find myself saying, "oh, I have to read that one" or "I just love that book; I really need to read it AGAIN" or "I definitely need to get to that one this year." And O.K., she didn't convince me that I might like ULYSSES if I gave it another chance, but I can be stubborn sometimes. Even though I've gone through the book already in preparation for this review, I'm storing it in my nightstand and come January 1st I plan to start the book all over and savor each book on each day again!

This stunning little book (at just more than 5"x7") would make a perfect stocking stuffer gift for any book lover and I think a number of folks will end up with a copy from me this year. The timing of this book is perfect for Christmas gifts, but more than anything the content is perfect for gifts. In a day and age where many of us (o.k., maybe not US but people we know) use a lack of time as a reason we don't read, I think this devotional can and will remind many people of how worth it is to MAKE time to read. Reading is a gift we should treasure and this devotional reminds us of that fact.

I highly recommend you check out Hallie Ephron's THE BIBLIOPHILE'S DEVOTIONAL: 365 Days of Literary Classics.

THE BIBILIOPHILE'S DEVOTIONAL (ISBN 978-1-60550-105-5) is published by Adams Media and if you cannot get it right now, it will be available in November.


5 comments:

Care October 25, 2009 at 9:31 AM  

So would this be Ephron's top 365 books to read - does she explain how she picked the books (sorry if I missed that in your review, I really need to go get some coffee but I get bloghappy at readathon!) anyway, you've piqued my curiousity! CHEERS, care

Kaye Barley October 25, 2009 at 11:37 AM  

ooooh - this looks loverly!! ok - one more book added to my "gotta have" list. big sigh.
Thanks, Jen!!

♥Jen♥ October 25, 2009 at 12:06 PM  

Care,

I wouldn't say these are her top 365 books necessarily. She explains in the introduction that it's a "taste" of the smorgesboard that's out there. They are books either considered to be classics or believed to be future classics. And as I mentioned, they just run the gammet...all genres, all ages, all genders, all races...it's a very eclectic collection of books.

For me I recognized a lot of the titles, having either read them myself or have had them on my tbr list. But there were also a lot of titles I hadn't heard of, so new discoveries for me as well.

Corey Wilde October 25, 2009 at 2:32 PM  

Hm, I'll have to peruse this. As you say, could be just the thing for a stocking stuffer.

Hallie Ephron October 26, 2009 at 9:40 AM  

Thanks so much for the kind words! It was hard picking the books. Some are obvious (Madame Bovary. The Grapes of Wrath. Pride and Prejudice...) Proclaimed GREAT, still read today. The newer the book, the harder it was to determine whether to include it. Some of the newer books included were Rabbit Run, Time Traveler's Wife, The Kite Runner. Of course just 365 books doesn't begin to mine this turf.

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