A “delightful” (Vanity Fair) collection from the longest-running, most influential book review in America, featuring its best, funniest, strangest, and most memorable coverage over the past 125 years.
Since its first issue on October 10, 1896, The New York Times Book Review has brought the world of ideas to the reading public. It is the publication where authors have been made, and where readers first encountered the classics that have enriched their lives.
Now the editors have curated the Book Review’s dynamic 125-year history, which is essentially the story of modern American letters. Brimming with remarkable reportage and photography, this beautiful book collects interesting reviews, never-before-heard anecdotes about famous writers, and spicy letter exchanges. Here are the first takes on novels we now consider masterpieces, including a long-forgotten pan of Anne of Green Gables and a rave of Mrs. Dalloway, along with reviews and essays by Langston Hughes, Eudora Welty, James Baldwin, Nora Ephron, and more.
With scores of stunning vintage photographs, many of them sourced from the Times’s own archive, readers will discover how literary tastes have shifted through the years—and how the Book Review’s coverage has shaped so much of what we read today.
NYTBR editor Jordan and editing fellow Qasim collect the Book Review's hits from more than 6,000 issues in this meticulously crafted celebration of the written word. The newspaper's foray into covering literary news began on Sept. 18, 1851, though it wasn't until Adolph S. Ochs became publisher in 1896 that the NYTBR first appeared as a stand-alone, eight-page supplement, which included reviews, plus information on the lives, deaths, and marriages of famous authors. Essays, interviews, reviews, and letters to the editor dating back to that year feature here and make for a sweeping summary of a century of literary tastes and trends: in 1900, the Book Review "rail against heroines who smoke in novels," and in 1922, Jordan and Qasim write, "T. S. Eliot publishes The Waste Land. The Book Review pays no attention." There are essays on literary scandals (such as "The Brouhaha over Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth" from 1905) and old advertisements (one from 1927 features a man impressing his date with his poetry knowledge). Each chapter is full of entertaining reviews and book covers ("Californians are not going to like this angry novel," one reviewer wrote of The Grapes of Wrath), plus delightful photos. Literature lovers are in for a treat.