How many readers of books wish to be writers of them? Some actually go on to do so; others don't. Regardless, many of them have in common an ardor for all details of writing and publishing that fix them on book signings, writing workshops, lives of authors, etc. (Need we say book reviewing?) There is a world of biblio groupies akin to would-be Babe Ruths immersed in baseball trivia. For those so involved in books, this work of Naked Truths and Provocative Curiosities about the Writing, Selling, and Reading of Books is for them. The tongue-in-cheek style throughout keeps a devotee's sense of proportion even decorum in these matters of love. The take-offs on book blurbs listed on the back of the book tell the tale, including I laughed my head off! credited to Marie Antoinette, and It was for this? allegedly by Johannes Gutenberg. More conveniently read in snippets rather than straight through, Hamilton's book displays his considerable literary erudition as lightly as it does entertainingly. He cunningly notes that the bookstore in Universal City, California, actually keeps only a small cache of books. These are stashed off behind an array of movie and non-movie paraphernalia and candy. On politicians who write books ( word filling may more accurately describe the process) he is devastating. For some this book may be too breezy, but you can control the velocity by reducing the volume. Regarding Casanova as a lover, one shouldn't forget that among his varied occupations he was a librarian (in Bohemia of all places). Who, more than those under the spell of pursuing a life among books, knows better that the best place for love in the afternoon is the library stacks? For true lovers of the book and all its trappings, Hamilton has written an encyclopedia of a valentine.
Dr. Edward Riedinger is on the faculty at Ohio State University.