cover image Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Reread

Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Reread

Michiko Kakutani. Clarkson Potter, $25 (304p) ISBN 978-0-525-57497-2

Former New York Times book critic Kakutani delivers an ebullient celebration of books and reading. She comes up with an eclectic list of titles that have shaped her life, including classics (Shakespeare, Frankenstein, Moby-Dick), biography and memoir (represented by an assortment of books on Lincoln and by Stefan Zweig’s The World of Yesterday), sports writing (with an excellent section of books by and about Muhammad Ali), and contemporary fiction (Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah). Each selection is accompanied by a brief, elegant essay explaining her connection to the work. About Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, Kakutani writes, “Max’s use of his imagination—to both liberate himself and tame his emotions—echoes Sendak’s own discovery, when he was a sickly young boy who was often confined to bed, that imagination was a gift that enabled him to transform his own fears into beautiful and indelible art.” Kakutani finds this same imaginative capacity in her life, as well, as she recalls the sense of escape literature afforded her in childhood, when she felt isolated by her status as “an only child, accustomed to spending lots of time alone” and “as one of the few nonwhite kids at school.” Kakutani’s recommendations and her “sense of the shared joys and losses of human experience” are revelations. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM Partners. (Oct.)