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Book Lust by Nancy Pearl – Book Review

nancy pearl doll

Nancy Pearl

I love to read books about books. It’s still reading, after all, even if you’re reading about books you should be reading. Or not reading. Book Lust: Recommended Reading For Every Mood, Moment, And Reason makes a big claim. Every single one? But if anyone can do it, it’s Nancy Pearl and her brief, insightful Nancy Pearl book reviews.

Pearl might be the most recognizable librarian there is, outside of that ER guy from the movie and its sequels, The Librarian. She even has an action figure. Her high profile (for a librarian) is not what draws me to here–it’s her love of books.

When you read Book Lust and see the reasons she recommends a book, you will believe that she means what she says. If she says she loved it, then she obviously did. I am the type of person that gets excited when I’m hearing from someone who is excited, not that I needed any more reasons to love books and reading.

The reviews in Book Lust are short, which is part of the point–the recommendations are categorized and a paragraph or less can be plenty to tell you which mood or moment you might be in. You can read it from front to back or just flip around and skim. It is all about locating however you feel, and that matching a book to it.

I’m a huge fan of book lists, and books about books in general. But Pearl does what more academic collections like 1001 books you must read before you die cannot–she gushes with the passion that only a true bookworm (or librarian) can. She doesn’t apologize for her tastes. Neither does she go into lengthy defenses or indictments about why we should or shouldn’t read a particular work.

She either loved it or she didn’t. Now, she could go into it further, I’ve no doubt. But that would defeat the purpose of her series: a quick, ready-reference guide to finding something new to try, quick. Her candor in describing each book has always been enough to give me a good idea of whether or not it’s something I’ll try.

And of course, she has written a couple of followups. As far as I’m concerned, she can keep doing it forever!


Strength training for body and mind.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Haley October 18, 2010, 10:20 am

    And Nancy just published a brand new book: Book Lust to Go: Recommended Reading for Travelers, Vagabonds, and Dreamers!

    • Josh Hanagarne October 18, 2010, 11:18 am

      I’ll grab it the second it turns up at the library. Thanks Haley.

  • Erin October 18, 2010, 7:53 pm

    I have never read any of Nancy Pearl’s books! I can’t believe it! I’ll have to get my hands on one of them and take a look.

    My favorite books about books are Nick Hornby’s essays for Believer magazine. I’ve only read the first one (The Polysyllabic Spree), but I am 100% positive I will love the second and third installments and can’t wait to get them!

    • Josh Hanagarne October 18, 2010, 8:03 pm

      Erin I LOVED polysyllabic spree. Good for us and hornby. Have you Read a gentle madness? It is my favorite book about books.

      • Erin October 18, 2010, 8:14 pm

        I haven’t! But I will absolutely check it out. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Darrel October 21, 2010, 7:17 am

    Nancy is invaluable — and that’s all we do is read about books. Longitude recommends reading for travelers in conjunction with travel and tour partners like WWF, Harvard and Smithsonian. We’ve got reading guides for hundreds of destinations, livened up considerably with the help of Nancy pearl. Have a look!