Vintage Reading, From Plato to Bradbury:
A Personal Tour of Some of the World’s Best Books
**Premium selection for new subscribers to Doubleday Book Club, and one of six featured alternates to the monthly feature at Literary Guild
*Robert Kanigel is a National Book Critics Award finalist, a Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist, winner of the Grady-Stack award for science writing, and winner of “Author of the Year” honors in 1998 by the 1200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA). His “The One Best Way” was one of four finalists for the Global Business Book Award for biography, co-sponsored by the Financial Times of London and the management consulting firm of Booz-Allen. A Kanigel talk on Vintage Reading was broadcast on C-Span’s “Book TV” in August 1998. Since September 1999, Kanigel has been professor of science writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and administrator of its new Graduate Program in Science Writing.
An evergreen that readers will joyfully discover for decades to come.
— DOUBLEDAY BOOK CLUB
Charming and smart.
— CHARLES MCGRATH, Editor – New York Times Book Review
A sound springboard into an odyssey of a lifetime, an invaluable reference for personal, high school, and academic libraries, and a brilliant introduction to the world of literature. (Recommended for Grades 9 and up.)
— BOOK REPORT
The 80 members of Kanigel’s canon are often provocative and surprising.”
— PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
Robert Kanigel’s reviews may be about vintage books, but his insights are contemporary and his voice is witty, intelligent, and gracious. His “personal tour of some of the world’s best books” is a trip we should all take.
-MICKEY PEARLMAN, Ph.D., author of What to Read: The Essential Guide for Reading Group Members and Other Books Lovers
I am an inveterate collector of book lists and book reviews. If the lists are intelligent, they will contain many familiarities-enough to suggest the worthiness of those that are unfamiliar or not yet read. If the reviews are good, they add immediacy to the need to read or reread them now. Kanigel passes both tests, and my own list has now grown by several new names.
-CHRISTOPHER B. NELSON, President, St. John’s College, Annapolis, MD, home of the Great Books Program
In a world beset with the often mindless clutter of television, films, the internet, and other distractions, many of us long to renew our acquaintance with the great literature and thought of the ages-to read a book. But what book? Robert Kanigel’s Vintage Reading, with its fascinating summaries of books, great and near-great, is the perfect guidepost. Kanigel, a distinguished writer, so effectively conveys his love of great books that one can envision his creating a new generation of readers.
-GWINN OWENS, former Baltimore Evening Sun editor & columnist
The essays are light and amusing. Each includes a bit of information about the author, some plot outline, and a reason to read the book. Book groups looking for titles would find this a good choice, as would library users who want a list to guide their reading. Recommended for public libraries.
I belong to two book clubs-one for women, one co-ed. Vintage Reading is a great source of ideas for books, as well as for topics of discussion.
-LINDA FOX, member, Lake Falls & Roland Park Book Clubs
For those who like to lower their brows from time to time, Kanigel rescues from oblivion some hearty old bestsellers.
–WASHINGTON POST “Book World”
…a collection of brief and graceful essays on 80 evergreen books, by authors from Herodotus to Willa Cather. Book-group discussion leaders, take note.
–CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER
If you feel intimidated by the classics, and all of those “must-read books” you have heard about but missed over the years, you will find this book entertaining and useful.
–THE BLOOMSBURY REVIEW
A professional reviewer, Kanigel occasionally chose books to review for the Baltimore Sun that weren’t new. He gathered those columns into this cozy and enlightening book In it, he takes another look at titles as varied as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Nana; The Microbe Hunters and A Bell for Adano; and he makes us want to pick them up again and read what he read… Fun to read and fine fodder for book-discussion groups. And teens suffering through required-reading lists might be captivated by an adult who views the books with pleasure.
With lively and concise commentary, award-winning author Robert Kanigel throws an arm around the reader and becomes tour guide to eighty of the world’s most unforgettable books. Vintage Reading is perfect for reading groups and book lovers who want to discover books they may have missed, or rediscover once-loved books now forgotten.
–BOOKS ON BOOKS REVIEW
Wisely, Kanigel does not confine himself to a mere recitation of these books’ plots or to an academic dissection of their merits, but chooses to relate their contents to readers’ lives today. Further, his wry observations often contain a ring of unexpected truth.
A readable, friendly literary companion, Vintage Reading is like those samples that seduce you into tasting because Kanigel’s enthusiastic eclecticism, sharing with you the books he loves best, makes it clear that a good reader is really someone ready to venture between the covers. Kanigel’s mini-forays between those covers seem cozy, not intimidating. The antidote to Cliff’s Notes, Vintage Reading’s unpretentious appetite for literature will inspire readers young and old to new adventures and, most importantly, a confidence in themselves.
— RACHEL EISLER, former English Dept. chair, Bryn Mawr School (Baltimore, MD)
A book that fills in the gaps in your education, Vintage Reading is a wonderful addition to anyone’s library, by an author who’s an amazing storyteller. Recommended for the well-read and the not-so-well read.
–EDITOR’S CHOICE BOOK REVIEW
For everyone who despairs of finding the time to identify and read history’s great books, Robert Kanigel offers a casual and friendly summary of eighty classical and modern favorites.
–BIBLIO: EXPLORING THE WORLD OF BOOKS
Like a well-loved English teacher, Robert Kanigel throws an arm around you and becomes the tour guide to eighty of the world’s most unforgettable books. He guides you comfortably through titles of our literary heritage that, for me at least, have seemed intimidating in the past. His summaries of the greats and near-greats effectively convey an unparalleled love of books, along with concise, easy to understand commentary. It’s infectious. Trust me!
A truly enjoyable introduction to the books that everyone is supposed to have read but hasn’t. They may sate your appetite or, instead, spur you to check out the originals. (They inspired me to tackle Gibbon’s Decline and Fall.) At least you will know why these works are considered classics, even if you decide to pass. The author is knowledgeable, but also concise and breezy, and has a light, humorous touch. If you are a graduate student in Comparative Literature working on a dissertation on deconstructionism, this book may not do anything for you. For this reasonably well-educated general reader, though, it was a pleasure.
— NEW YORK READER COMMENTING ON AMAZON.COM
A novel concept – that you can be your own judge of good reading — and an honest, charming, profound, fair, and fascinating book… If you’re already a reader, consider Vintage Reading a validation. If you haven’t yet discovered the joys of discovering new worlds in print, get ready… All of Vintage Reading is an incitement to action – to read these books. I do hope there’s a sequel.
–GEORGE LISTON SEAY, HOST OF “DIALOGUE,” a weekly interview a series produced by The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and aired weekly by Public Radio International (PRI)
Robert Kanigel is a master at reviewing older books. Some of the books he reviews are ones readers wish they’d read, and now that they know more about them, they can and probably will! Some books readers may never have heard of before, but Kanigel makes mouths water for them with his terse, intriguing reviews. Many, if not most, of the books recommended are not on any literary experts’ lists. But Kanigel makes readers want to delve into them just the same. Reading Vintage Reading is like wine tasting. Pretty soon, you’ll want more of this and a lot more of that. So sip a little from Robert Kanigel’s Vintage Reading. You’ll enjoy it!
— MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW