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"Ex Libris: 100 Books to Read and Reread" | Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider

Oprah scores with her newest book selection, just announced today: “Ex Libris: 100 Books to Read and Reread,” by Michiko Kakutani, former chief book critic of the “New York Times.”

I’ve already bought copies for gifts, not really knowing what books to buy two avid readers on my list. Rather than me making the choice for them, this collection will allow them to choose from a wide berth of literature they might find appealing—novels, classics, non-fiction, poetry, and more, both current and past picks.

Kakutani’s introduction alone is reason enough to purchase this treasure as she begins with an overview of the “pleasure of reading,” peppered with quotations from famous writers and leaders like August Wilson, Ray Bradbury, Virginia Woolf, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and others.

She then focuses on her fond history with reading, her visits to the library, the influence her mother and teachers had on her beloved literary life. Kakutani eloquently writes about how fragmented our Internet age has become, and the joy that a book provides, a total immersion, a losing of oneself in story.

Kakutani provides an interesting intro to each of her book suggestions, and has arranged her collection by author, sometimes a sole book by a writer, but other times several titles by the same author. She groups some suggestions under subject matter, as in “Books About Democracy and Tyranny,” and “Books About Work and Vocation.” There’s something for everyone here, including recent bestsellers, “Educated,” by Tara Westover, and “The Underground Railroad,” by Colson Whitehead.

“Ex Libris” is not only a good read, it’s handsome too, a gorgeous book with heft because of the quality and caliber of its pages, a book to display, classic in design—a rich, readable reference making it a gift that will continue to give.

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