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Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Reread

by Michiko Kakutani

Biography / Autobiography Gift Books

LoveReading View on Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Reread

Dedicated to “readers and writers everywhere” this is a stunning gift of a book for every devoted bibliophile. Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Reread is a beautiful, beautiful reminder of the power and the joy of books.  Libris is used as an inscription on a bookplate to show the name of the book's owner. I’ve never had one, I’ve always wanted one. Life goals right there.

Michiko Kakutani is perfectly placed to write this “magical brick-sized object”, as she wonderfully speaks of books. She is a Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic and the former chief book critic of The New York Times. And this really is a beautifully packaged, beautifully illustrated magical gift of a book. From her fascinating introduction talking of her love of books burgeoning from a young age,  she comments on how books “give us the stories of men and women we will never meet in person, illuminate the discoveries made by great minds, and allow us access to the wisdom of earlier generations.”

Don’t they just, and this book is a perfect celebration of that. I too am an avid reader. I always have been. I also was the one in my house who wanted to read all the books and who wore out her library card. As a lover of books, you can’t help but engage, dive in, eat her words up hungrily and pore over the accompanying illustrations of alternative book plates by the talented Dana Tanamachi.

This book is an absolute gem. Michiko takes you on a literary journey via these “tiny time machines”. Oh how I adore her expressive way of talking about books. She lists more than 100 books across the decades and from a variety of genres – books that have shaped her life, complemented by illuminating essays about them. The themes include books about work and vocation, democracy and tyranny, the war on terror and housekeeping. Her selections range from Shakespeare to Toni Morrison to Abraham Lincoln and Dr Seuss right through to Educated by Tara Westover and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (all of whom I heartily agree with!)

The introduction includes the words of Virginia Woolf who famously said: “the pleasure of reading is so great that the world would be a far different and far inferior place without it”. And boy, are we reminded of this. As Michiko comments, the list is “subjective and decidedly arbitrary” but it doesn’t feel that way. I wholeheartedly bought into her excitement, and her passion for reading. Whatever books mean to you, they connect us all and this is a timely reminder of that; a stunning anthology of over 100 gems we all should read and re-read. And next on my list get back to that bookshop!


Deborah Maclaren

Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Reread Synopsis

From renowned, Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic, Michiko Kakutani, comes an inspiring and gorgeously illustrated selection of the life-changing books that none of us should miss

'Why do we love books so much?'

For legendary literary critic Michiko Kakutani, books have always been an escape and a sanctuary, the characters of some novels feeling so real to her childhood self that she worried they might leap out of the pages at night if she left the book cover open. In Ex Libris, she offers a personal selection of over 100 works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, with passionate essays on why each has had a profound effect on her life.

From Homer's The Odyssey to The Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale to Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels, Ex Libris covers a rich and vast range of classics, old and new, that will help build a well-rounded reader and citizen of the world. With gorgeous illustrations by lettering artist Dana Tanamachi that evoke vintage bookplates leafed between Kakutani's inspiring essays, Ex Libris points us to our next great read - and proves an unmissable reminder of why we fell in love with reading in the first place.

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780008421953
Publication date: 20/10/2020
Publisher: William Collins an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780008421953
Publication date: 20th October 2020
Author: Michiko Kakutani
Publisher: William Collins an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 304 pages
Genres: Biography / Autobiography, Gift Books,
Categories: Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers, Literary essays,

About Michiko Kakutani

Michiko Kakutani is a Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic and the former chief book critic of The New York Times. She is also the author of the New York Times bestseller The Death of Truth. Dana Tanamachi is a lettering artist and designer who specializes in custom typography and illustration. She has been commissioned by Target, Nike, USPS, Ralph Lauren, Instagram, West Elm, O, The Oprah Magazine and Time.

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