Tuesday, April 14, 2009

1001 Books for Every Mood, by Hallie Ephron, Ph.D

When Hallie Ephron says that she's got 1001 books for every mood, she means every mood. Here is just a sample of the moods for which Ms. Ephron has compliled book lists:
  • striking it rich (wealth and finance)
  • tripping the light fantastic (dance)
  • sift through clues (mysteries)
  • hit a home run (baseball)
  • march into battle (war stories)
  • hug your dog (animals and pets)
  • celebrate the season (holidays)

Ephron explains how she compliled the list in her introduction (p. vii):

"My goal was to compile an eclectic list that mixes fiction with nonfiction, books for adults with books designed for younger readers, and to organize them thematically by mood. I included my personal favorites plus titles culled from books recommended by readers, librarians, booksellers, and reviewers. I set out to limit one title per author, but occasionally I couldn't keep an extra title or two from a single author sneaking in."

KITTEN'S NOTE: Ms. Ephron left out the word "nepotism" in her summary, as she has included works written by her sisters, Nora, Delia, and Amy.

Books are rated using the following categories (each category has its own little symbol, and the symbols appear next to the books' summaries):

  • literary merit (a scale of one to four stars)
  • provocative (makes one think, has caused controversy)
  • influential (books that have defined an era)
  • inspriational (symbolized by a dove)
  • brainy (books that inform you)
  • easy reading (symbolized by an umbrella)
  • page turner (can't put it down)
  • challenging (symbolized by a pair of glasses)
  • bathroom book (can be read in short sittings; symbolized by a toilet)
  • family friendly (books that can be shared with youngsters)
  • movie (books that are made into movies)

This is a well-organized tome. Each book has its own brief summary, free of spoilers, but has enough information to pique your interest. Occasionally, Ephron includes such bits as the "Department of Memorable Lines" to further interest you in picking up a title.

For example, consider the quote she used from The Book of Household Management, a tome written by 19th-century England's version of Martha Stewart, Isabella Beaton:

"As with the Commander of an Army, or the leader of any enterprise, so it is with the mistress of the house. Her spirit will be seen through the whole establishment; and just in proportion as she performs her duties intelligently and thoroughly, so will her domestics follow in her path."

The following line from Domestic Manners of the Americans, a 19th-century American work by Frances Milton Trollope, led me to include this on my TBR list. It describes an afternoon gathering:

"The gentlemen spit, talk of elections and the price of produce, and spit again. The ladies look at teach other's dresses till they know every pin by heart; talk of Parson Somebody's last sermon...till the 'tea' is announced, when they all console themselves together for whatever they may have suffered in keeping awake, by taking more tea, coffee, hot cake and custard, hoe cake, johnny cake, waffle cake, and dodger cake, pickled peaches, and preserved cucumbers, ham, turkey, hung beef, apple sauce, and pickled oysters than ever were prepared in any other country of the known world."

Ephron has a cheeky sense of humor. Directly below the entry for Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, she lists P.J. O'Rourke's Modern Manners: An Etiquette Book for Rude People.

Can you guess which one made it onto my list?

Also, consider this exquisite line from Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas in Wales:

"Our snow was not only shaken from white wash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snow grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss, minutely white-ivied the walls and settled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunder-storm of white, torn Christmas cards."

How can you not pick up this tale after reading that one line? Now consider the opening line to Christopher Moore's The Stupidest Angel, part of a selection in the book called "Department of Great Opening Lines". It juxtaposes well with the above line from A Child's Christmas in Wales:

"Christmas crept into Pine Cove like a creeping Christmas thing: dragging garland, ribbon, and sleigh bells, oozing eggnog, reeking of pine, and threatening festive doom."

I sticky-noted many pages in this book for the memorable quotes, opening lines, and excerpts of character descriptions. There are too many to include here.

I suggest you read this book with a pen and pad right next to you. You'll want to write down many of the titles that Ephron suggests. Between this and A Year of Reading, as well as the recommendations I get from you, Kittens, and friends and family, I think I'm set for life with my reading!

This is the latest entry in my 100+ Reading Challenge, my Support Your Local Library Challenge, as well as my Dewey Decimal Challenge. Click on the buttons in the sidebar for archived lists of all of my reads!


Anonymous said...

Wow-that sounds really cool!!

drollgirl said...

this is brilliant!

That.Girl said...

Hmm. Sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Jenners said...

Those Ephron girls! I'm going to have to check this out! Great review!