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Ex Libris
Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Reread | Michiko Kakutani
26 posts | 9 read | 1 reading | 27 to read
Pulitzer Prizewinning literary critic Michiko Kakutani shares 100 personal, thought-provoking essays about books that have mattered to her and that help illuminate the world we live in todaywith beautiful illustrations throughout. In the introduction to her new collection of essays, Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Reread, Michiko Kakutani writes: "In a world riven by political and social divisions, literature can connect people across time zones and zip codes, across cultures and religions, national boundaries and historical eras. It can give us an understanding of lives very different from our own, and a sense of the shared joys and losses of human experience." Readers will discover novels and memoirs by some of the most gifted writers working today; favorite classics worth reading or rereading; and nonfiction works, both old and new, that illuminate our social and political landscape and some of todays most pressing issues, from climate change to medicine to the consequences of digital innovation. There are essential works in American history (The Federalist Papers, The Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.); books that address timely cultural dynamics (Elizabeth Kolberts The Sixth Extinction, Daniel J. Boorstin's The Image, Margaret Atwoods The Handmaids Tale); classics of children's literature (the Harry Potter novels, Where the Wild Things Are); and novels by acclaimed contemporary writers like Don DeLillo, William Gibson, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Ian McEwan. With richly detailed illustrations by lettering artist Dana Tanamachi that evoke vintage bookplates, Ex Libris is an impassioned reminder of why reading matters more than ever.
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charl08
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Even Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who studied under Nabokov at Cornell University as an undergraduate, said he changed the way she read and the way she wrote: "He taught me the importance of choosing the right word and presenting it in the right word order."

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charl08
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Thought this sounded familiar! LT catalogue to the rescue...

"Grosz quotes Isak Dinesen, who observed that "all sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them," and he goes on to argue that stories can help us to make sense of our lives"

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charl08
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Pretty grim Xmas (family member's terminal diagnosis a couple of weeks ago). Taking chance where I can for reading and admiring this book's illustrations.

TrishB Sorry to hear 😢 1mo
Chrissyreadit Sorry. That is hard. 1mo
LeahBergen I‘m sorry to hear that. 1mo
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curiouserandcurioser @charl08 so sorry to hear😪 1mo
bnp That's tough anytime, but especially hard at the holidays. Sorry to hear this. 1mo
MaureenMc 💗💗💗 1mo
Ruthiella So sorry to hear that. ❤️ 1mo
batsy Sorry to hear that. That's tough ❤️ 1mo
CarolynM I‘m sorry to hear this😢 1mo
rockpools So sorry to hear ❤️ 1mo
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charl08
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Mostly enjoying reading Kakutani's recommendations, but for this one:
No thank you!
Had to read these for a (fairly deathly) course on early American history. Glad not to have to do so again!

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readingjedi
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A rather nice signed copy of Ex Libris was my little treat to myself today.

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Becker
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Pickpick

I dipped in and out of this over many months and thoroughly enjoyed it. It offers a condensed commentary on dozens of books. And when you‘re done reading it, it‘s a pretty little thing on your shelf. ❤️

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RaeLovesToRead
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I've got my bedroom back (my sister nabbed it for the last 2 weeks) and so I'm rearranging my book collection. Can't wait to read some of these beauties 😍

My reading has slowed down a bit over the last week. I've been preparing to start work again (hopefully mid-July) and replaying BioShock Infinite. Also, my plan to read mediocre-looking books to have a clear out has been foiled by reading Words of Radiance on my Kindle 😅😅

Oh well... 😂

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charl08
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Caroline2 I‘m reading the tagged book at the mo. It is really good but a nightmare for the TBR pile!!! 😆 2y
charl08 @Caroline2 I have it on the shelf to read... 2y
Liz_M I have it out from the library and it is beautiful! Love those book cover illustrations and colorful quotes. 2y
charl08 @Liz_M I imagine there are a few of us reading it on Litsy! 📚 2y
49 likes5 comments
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Chelsea.Poole
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Loving the recommendations in this book. There‘s so many I haven‘t read; there goes the TBR list growing again! The illustrations of the cover art for the titles are wonderful!

ShelleyBooksie Beautiful photo 2y
Chelsea.Poole @ShelleyBooksie thank you! 😊 2y
Tamra In need this book and some blooms in my life! 2y
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Chelsea.Poole
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It‘s Monday 😒
I‘m reminiscing with this little scene from my weekend. A quiet moment I‘d love to get back to, instead I‘m heading into timesheets, board meeting, and the rest of the daily grind. Here‘s to making small moments of peace (featuring reading!) within our day today! 📖 ☕️

TheNeverendingTBR What's that on your toast? Banana and...? It looks yummy!! 2y
Librariana This scene looks like sheer perfection! Hope yesterday's meeting wasn't too taxing and that you got through the day unscathed 😊 2y
Chelsea.Poole @TheNeverendingTBR banana 🍌 peanut butter 🥜 and cinnamon! So good! 😊 2y
Chelsea.Poole @Librariana thank you! Everything was smooth, but definitely miss having more reading time! 2y
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review
Lindy
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Pickpick

Necessarily subjective, here are 100 books—old & recent—that Michiko Kakutani loves to reread & to give as gifts, with concise explanations why. Novels, memoirs, poetry, history & children‘s literature: something for everyone. Her introduction is so good, that alone is a joy for every bookworm. I thought I might skip over some of the book descriptions because I didn‘t have interest (ie politics, presidents) but ended up enjoying every word.

Ruthiella That cover is so pretty! I think I like it better than the US edition. 2y
Lindy @Ruthiella I screen-captured this cover from the illustrator‘s website. I went to the site because I wanted to know more about Tanamachi, because I love her book cover art featured within Ex Libris. 2y
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Lindy
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In his 1996 book, A History of Reading, Alberto Manuel described a 10th-century Persian potentate who reportedly travelled with his 117,000-book library collection loaded on the backs of “four hundred camels trained to walk in alphabetical order.”

Lcsmcat I imagine them with call letters painted on their sides. 😂 2y
Lindy @Lcsmcat Whimsical image 😁 2y
batsy That is something to think about! 😯🐪 2y
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Lindy @batsy There‘s an article online if you want to read more about the library on camelback: https://endangered.substack.com/p/the-government-official-who-carried 2y
batsy @Lindy Thanks! That's so fascinating (and awesome). 2y
Desha That‘s so awesome! 📚📚📚 1y
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Lindy
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I love everything Kakutani has to say about Emily Wilson‘s translation of The Odyssey. She is reminding me of what a good and enlightening experience it was to read it, which is her exactly her aim in writing Ex Libris: these are books that are worth rereading.

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Lindy
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Kakutani is going to topple my TBR by making the (virtual) stacks so tall! I had already planned to read more of Camus because he‘s in a novel (by Kaouther Adimi) which I‘m reading concurrently; I‘ve only read The Stranger so far, & Adimi has influenced me to seek out Nuptuals. Thanks to Kakutani, I also want to read The Plague. She sums up the message as being “there are more things to admire in men than to despise.”

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Reviewsbylola
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I got some copies of this book to give as gifts over the holidays, and of course had to buy a copy for myself.

Kakutani writes for the NYT and is a Pulitzer Prize winning literary critic. This collection includes 100 essays about books that have made an impact on her. It also has stunning illustrations, endpapers, and a bookplate!! 😍

Ruthiella I just bought this one too! I can‘t resist a book about books. 😀 2y
vivastory I received this one as a gift too. It's stunning! 2y
BookishMarginalia I couldn‘t resist either, @ruthiella! 2y
LeahBergen So pretty! 2y
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CortexVortex
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Mehso-so

This book about books does have some good points and suggestions. However, so many books should've made it to 100+ books to “read and reread“ but were left out. Moreover, it doesn't have a definite organization. Although some (but not most) books with similar themes are presented together (in a single chapter), in general, the reviews jump from fiction to nonfiction to written historical work with no cohesive connections.

Lindy Your review prompted me to pick this up, so thanks for drawing my attention to it. I‘m not far in yet, but I can see that the contents do have an organization: alphabetical by author. I know how it is to wish MY favourite books would be included in such a list ( I don‘t see many here) but this is Kakutani‘s selection and I‘m interested in why she chose them. 2y
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CortexVortex
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Cat ✅ Dog ✅ Book ✅

BookishMarginalia Perfect! 2y
Johanna414 That's the life! 2y
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Caroline2
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I‘m loving this book so much. Beautiful illustrations and the writer clearly loves books without going over the total.
@RaeLovesToRead I also have the first book on my shelf! 😁 I‘m adding it to my January TBR list. 👍

RaeLovesToRead @Caroline2 Woo! I've heard Americanah is fantastic, I bought it a while back but haven't got round to it yet... this book is super-beautiful 😍 2y
Caroline2 @RaeLovesToRead I‘ve heard lots of good things about it too. 👍 2y
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Caroline2
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So excited to start this book! I don‘t normally like books about books (I‘d rather be reading an actual book thanks! 😆) but this is so beautiful with beautiful illustrations so I‘m going to take my time and try and read a chapter a week. 👍

RaeLovesToRead Oh my goodness... a book about books that I don't have!!!!! Must..... immediately...... purchase...... 😂 2y
Vansa I wish she hadn't used the same name as Anne Fadiman's absolutely wonderful book! 2y
Caroline2 @RaeLovesToRead I think it is the prettiest book I own! 😍 2y
Caroline2 @Vansa I haven‘t heard of that one, I‘ll check it out. 👍 2y
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Caroline2
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My Christmas book haul! 😀🎄📚

Freespirit Fabulous!! 2y
squirrelbrain I loved The Mothers recently. The Stationery Shop intrigues me...I‘ve seen it on Litsy a lot. 2y
Gissy Perfect📚📚📚🙌🎄💚❤️💚❤️💚❤️ 2y
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KathyWheeler Kindred is fantastic! 2y
Texreader Awesome!! Kindred is excellent 2y
Caroline2 @KathyWheeler @Texreader I‘ve been wanting to read it for agesssss! 😁 2y
Caroline2 @squirrelbrain Oh good about The Mothers! 😃 Yes, it‘s sounds like Stationery Shop could either be a charming read, or bit cheesy! 😆 Handy for #readingasia tho! 👍 2y
TrishB Great selection 👍🏻 2y
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emtobiasz
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This year‘s Christmas #bookhaul: two nonfiction reads, a YA fantasy, a book of poetry, and a work of historical fiction. The top three were the list I gave my fiancé, but he found the bottom two on his own.

I finished Wintering last night— what should I try next?

Rehesina Dearly! It‘s really lovely and I promise you‘ll go back and read it again after you‘re done! 2y
emtobiasz @Rehesina ooh, that‘s wonderful to hear! 2y
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julesG
This post contains spoilers
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This also arrived. Thank you very much to my #BirthdayFairy friend, @KarenUK! 😘😘😘

#BookMail #LitsyMail

KarenUK You are welcome, Fairy friend! 💕🧚‍♀️ 2y
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Christine
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Pickpick

No matter how familiar I am with a person or their work (not very, in this case), I still want to hear all about the books they'd recommend. This was a fun mix of books I‘ve read and loved, ones I‘ll happily never read, and plenty of adds to or bump-ups within my TBR. I enjoyed Kakutani‘s writing quite a bit, which makes me eager to get to her book The Death of Truth, which I‘ve returned to the library unread too many times.

Reggie It‘s funny but the only reason I heard about her is from Sex in the City where Carrie writes that book and gets a good review but gets hung up on one sentence that she obsesses about while Miranda is having a meltdown with the new baby. I‘ve never heard the name Michiko Kakutani said so much, lol. 2y
Christine @Reggie LOL!!! That reference would have gone straight over my head back then, but now I must go back and watch that episode! 2y
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OrangeMooseReads
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The cover 😍 ... another want to read

Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks So beautiful ❤️ 2y
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Augustdana
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Changing it up a bit, I‘ve got a soft spot for books about books. Is this inception? I‘ve never seen the movie.

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Lissa00
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I received these beauties today!

#bookmail #booksaboutbooks

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