All About Those Books

Did you imagine singing that title in the tune of “All About That Bass”? I can’t claim complete credit for that—there’s already a pretty awesome video remake of the song that made the rounds of the university book publishing email list serve a couple of weeks ago.

In Its Time

Today I’m here linking up for The Circle with Kiki of In Its Time to talk all about books. Books, books, books. I don’t get make enough time to read for pleasure anymore, but the child who couldn’t keep her nose out of a book and felt her heart flutter when the Beast shows Belle his gigantic library of wall to wall books is still a huge part of me. And while I don’t read as many books as I’d like to at home, I’ve got to say I’m pretty happy reading them as part of my job.

What book did I just finish?

The book I most recently finished reading is My Salinger Year, which I actually wrote a full review on here. Let me just say that having not even known about it until my mom got it for me from the library, I was in for quite the treat with that one.

What book am I reading next (or reading now!)?

Right now I’m reading Catching Fire, after having finished The Hunger Games just before starting My Salinger Year. These are examples of the very few books I’m guilty of reading after having seen the movies. I know! I’m sorry! I just couldn’t get down with the concept until someone finally talked the movie up enough for me to watch it. And then Jennifer Lawrence did her thing and I was hooked. Don’t worry though, I’ll definitely be finishing Mockinjay before I go see that movie. :)

There are quite a few other books I hope to add to my list before the end of the year, too, including another UNM Press book Sophie’s House of Cards, along with, perhaps, The Year of Magical Thinking, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, and The Happiness Project. We’ll see!

What are my favorite books of the year?

I’ve been reading a whole lot of great books this year, which makes me very happy to say. While I’m not reading as much as I’d ideally like to, I am reading a heck of a lot more than I did last year! Woot! Faves include Love Letters to the Dead (review here), Looking for Alaska, Leaving Tinkertown (by UNM Press!), and My Salinger Year. So, you know. Basically all of the books I’ve read this year.

What were my favorite books as a kid?

I was still am ALL ABOUT Harry Potter. I haven’t re-read them all the way through in a couple years. Maybe that needs to be my holiday reading :) Aside from the magical world of Harry Potter, though, I grew up loving the Eragon series and Watership Down.

What book would I take with me on a deserted island?

Do I have to choose just one? I’m pretty sure I’d be content with any one of the Harry Potter books, although books 3, 6, and 7 are my faves. If I could take them all, then I’d truly be 100% happy. Hmmm. The Great Gatsby would be another winner. I did my senior thesis on that book, so if I’m not tired of it after that, then I’m good for life, pretty sure. Perks of Being a Wallflower and Love Letters to the Dead are both future classics I could definitely live with reading over and over. I can’t decide. Please don’t make me!

What about you? What are some of your favorite books? What have you been reading, or hope to read soon?

love always, Delia

If you love books, you’ll love My Salinger Year.

Book My Salinger Year, Joanna Rakoff

Today I want to talk a little bit about the latest piece of literature I have had the opportunity to read. It’s not often that I write a review post—in fact, by my count this is only my third one in total—which is actually kind of weird because I silently write reviews of every movie I see and book I read all the time—so you know that this is something that really struck a chord with me.

The book in question today is a memoir called My Salinger Year, by Joanna Rakoff. Joanna is a young woman who, fresh out of grad school, moves to New York City and lands a job as an assistant to the literary agent who represents J.D. Salinger. When Joanna first enters the world of this literary agency where typewriters and Dictaphones still reign (though it is 1996), she is struck by the different approach agents, particularly her boss, take towards literature. While she grew up loving to read classic literature and pursued an English degree, her boss thought of all manuscripts as potential business deals. Money, it seems, is more important to the literary world than she had thought.

It is also more important to living in New York City than she might have hoped. Though she notes the wealth all around her in New York, Joanna cannot even afford a decent sandwich on her lunch breaks, and shares with her boyfriend a one bedroom apartment that has no heater and no kitchen sink.

This memoir is about the year Joanna worked for J.D. Salinger’s agency. It is about the year in which she was tasked with answering Salinger’s fan mail, in which she spoke with the somewhat legendary (and secluded) Salinger on the phone, and brought herself to read all of his books in one emotional weekend. But do not think this memoir is about Salinger.

No, the best thing about this memoir is that it is all about Joanna, about the literary and publishing worlds, about New York City, about the state of the world as computers first began to step foot on the scene, about reading and writing, about youth and growing up and love and hope.

I would suggest that anyone with any remote interest in any of those things read this book. You will see the timeless New York City come alive with Joanna’s eloquent language. You will feel her conflicted emotions working for an agency, wanting to be a writer. You will see her struggle living with her boyfriend, wondering if she made the right choice leaving her college boyfriend and California behind. You will see the world of publishing unfold; talk of contracts, rights and permissions, and electronic rights (a newfangled idea the agency always denied publishers) eventually make their way into Joanna’s vocabulary, something that particularly moved me, as I myself experienced those same new learnings just over a year ago. You will find yourself immersed in the not-so-distant past, where email is a controversial subject and cell phones aren’t even on the radar. You may find yourself wanting to read or re-read many of Salinger’s books. But above all, this book will leave you wanting to live a little deeper, to love a little deeper, and to find something, some experience of your own that might move you to tears and make your mark.

From my favorite book:

“Why does one begin to write? Because she feels misunderstood, I guess. Because it never comes out clearly enough when she tries to speak. Because she wants to rephrase the world, to take it in and give it back again differently, so that everything is used and nothing is lost. Because it’s something to do to pass the time until she is old enough to experience the things she writes about.”

– Nicole Krauss, History of Love