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By Carey, Leo | The New Yorker, October 6, 2003 | Go to article overview

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Carey, Leo, The New Yorker


So Many Books, So Little Time: a year of passionate reading (Putnam), by Sara Nelson, takes as its title the exasperated cry of literary professionals everywhere, a cry that is echoed by the nearly simultaneous publication of the almost identically titled So Many Books: reading and publishing in an age of abundance, by Gabriel Zaid, translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer (Paul Dry Books). Nelson describes herself as an insomniac who is "ravenous for books," and she structures her own book as a record of a single year's reading, during which time she devours everything from J. M. Coetzee to Somerset Maugham to Mary Higgins Clark to a dictionary of hipster slang. From this starting point, Nelson examines phenomena that will make many readers smile with recognition: the false importance of an overhyped book, the recommendation from a friend that makes you think less of your friend, and, most dreaded of all, the book you feel guilty for not having read. …

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