Book Lust: Recommended Reading For Every Mood, Moment, And Reason, by Nancy Pearl
Very soon after beginning this book, I realized it was going to be a gloriously horrible book and one whose adverse review I was going to write with glee. Despite the author’s desire to gain the sympathy of the reader by commenting that books saved her life, a reader who does not share the author’s sociopolitical worldview is likely to wish that she had not discovered books at all, or at least that she had restrained herself from writing this particular book. In fact, it was not long into reading this book that I became convinced that the author was giving negative reviews, and that even though the author recommended many books I had read and some books that I had even liked, that the fact that the author approved of and appreciated specific books meant that there was something suspect about them, for the books recommended were often of a particular kind devoted to the same sort of boutique hyphenated political identities that are all too often feted and appreciated by those on the Progressive left, and that the author’s woefully misguided worldview and ad populum fallacies concerning what made books worthwhile were the sign of someone who was not nearly well enough exposed to good literature to make her a fitting authority on books. The book was at least not completely worthless–we both enjoy Jane Austen novels, the space trilogy of C.S. Lewis, and have a disinterest in horror possibly for reasons of our own psychological makeup, but these and a few other similarities are lamentably not enough to make this a worthwhile book.
This book is written alphabetically by topic, and an examination of the topics chosen and those omitted will demonstrate what is most lacking about this book. Part of the problem exists in that the author chooses some books to repeatedly recommend, sometimes two or three times, not recognizing how irritating this was to someone who only needed or wanted to be told once, and who became increasingly disinclined to accept the author’s recommendations at all. Many of the topics included show a distinct interest in political correctness and misguided Progressive political causes: five categories alone for African or African-American authors, a category for American Indian literature, socialist-inclined books on business and history including Howard Zinn’s dreadful People’s History of the United States, Islamic literature, Gay and Lesbian Literature, books on Cuba, Chick Lit, books on families in trouble, Irish fiction, Italian American fiction, Japanese fiction, lady travelers, Latin American fiction, the Middle East, political fiction, sex and the single reader (two things that do not go together morally speaking), and even Zen Buddhist fiction. The author includes a lot of forgettable authors as being “too good to miss,” and somehow manages not to have any categories focused on Christianity except perhaps for Christmas literature, and who even manages to ignore the entire massive category of Christian romances among the five categories of romance she has (one of which is paranormal romance). She has books on evolution, but no books on vastly superior intelligent design, and on and on it goes, making this book a woefully unbalanced collection from someone whose taste in books is not nearly good enough and whose worldview is deeply misguided.
In reading this book, I was struck by the fact that this book belongs to large family of books that are all misguided for similar reasons . What all of these hypocrites have in common is a simultaneous desire to reject the authority of God and to set themselves up as some kind of authority for other people to follow. These people recommend largely the same sort of books–literary fiction with decadent themes often particularly enjoyed, and act as an inbred community acting as if the mere repetition of recommendations and the fact that they seemingly do not know of the massive body of books that exist outside of their ken and that are both more edifying and more enjoyable to read than much of what they recommend speaks poorly to their efforts at shaping the cultural discourse in favor of the sort of books they prefer. That there are good books among the recommendations made by the author is evidence that even the poorest of self-professed authorities occasionally gets something write when getting much wrong, but that does not make this book any more enjoyable as a whole, unless one enjoys laughing at the author’s woefully misguided attempts at swaying the opinion of readers with her statements from the leftist echo chamber.
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