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From “the most powerful book critic in the English-speaking world” (Vanity Fair) comes 100 personal, thought-provoking essays of the life-changing books she wouldn’t want you to miss—beautifully illustrated throughout.
Legendary former New York Times critic and bestselling author Michiko Kakutani once again brings her wealth of knowledge and passion about books to eager readers—but this time with her personal selections of more than 140 works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that have had a profound effect on her life. “Why do we love books so much,” she asks in her introduction. “These magical brick-sized objects are actually tiny time machines that can transport us back to the past to learn the lessons of history, and forward to the future, where we may be granted glimpses of more ideal worlds, or more dystopian ones that serve as dark mirrors of what we could become, should we misuse the gifts of science, or fail to protect our ideals and our planet.” Books have always been her escape and 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 fact, Kakutani is so connected to her beloved books, she refuses to see certain movie adaptations—even the iconic Lord of the Rings—for fear of the cinematic scenes crowding out the detailed images in her head.
More than just recommendations, Ex Libris covers a broad range of topics that help build a well-rounded reader and citizen of the world—from the historical (Federalist Papers, The Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.) to the timely (Elizabeth Kolbert’s harrowing The Sixth Extinction, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale) to the fantastical (the Harry Potter novels, Where the Wild Things Are). With richly detailed illustrations by lettering artist Dana Tanamachi that evoke vintage bookplates leafed between Kakutani’s passionate essays, Ex Libris is always pointing us to our next great read.