The Book Shopper

It's always a pleasure to be reminded that reading is more than an academic exercise, or a consumerist indulgence.  Murray Browne, a proud middle-class eccentric, here fashions a modest and very casual book out of his simple love of literature.  And not just what's in the books themselves but all the odd and wonderful consequences of living a life among books: the friendships nurtured, the joys of the bookhunt, the dilemmas of managing one's library.  Browne's no slouch when it comes to matters of taste.  His ideal store includes the many writers he celebrates: Pat Barker, Jim Harrison, Milan Kundera, and Annie Proulx, to name some. No idolater, he's unafraid to point out deficiencies in novelists he admires, such as T. C. Boyle or Richard Ford.  And for all his midwestern humility, he enjoys his Proust and Pynchon.  Browne surrounds his critical opinions with essays and sidebars that chronicle his years of book love, first as a child who read more for quantity than quality, then as a regional newspaper reviewer who slogged through his share of dreck.  As someone who's spent lots of time on both sides of the bookseller's counter, I can confirm Browne's astute observations about the trade, especially his credo: book people are not often people people.  In other essays, Browne makes peace with online bookstores, explains the difficulties of giving and receiving books as gifts, and offers a few suggestions on how to arrange for our libraries after death.  All in good humor, of course.  Browne's critical populism never panders.  Think of him as an all-American reader truly in love with books.


July 23: Jessica Mitford died on this day in 1996.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.


When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).