Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Reader's Book of Days: True Tales from the Lives and Works of Writers for Every Day of the Year” as Want to Read:
A Reader's Book of Days: True Tales from the Lives and Works of Writers for Every Day of the Year
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Reader's Book of Days: True Tales from the Lives and Works of Writers for Every Day of the Year

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  278 ratings  ·  79 reviews
A witty and addictively readable day-by-day literary companion.At once a love letter to literature and a charming guide to the books most worth reading, A Reader's Book of Days features bite-size accounts of events in the lives of great authors for every day of the year. Here is Marcel Proust starting In Search of Lost Time and Virginia Woolf scribbling in the margin of he ...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published November 4th 2013 by W. W. Norton Company
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Reader's Book of Days, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Reader's Book of Days

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  278 ratings  ·  79 reviews

More filters
Sort order
L.A. Kelley
Oct 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book was a Goodreads giveaway.
Tom Nissley’s compendium is a fun addition to the library of anyone who has interest in authors or the craft of writing. Filled with snippets of information, it can be read in one sitting or broken down by days. Lots of surprising tidbits are sprinkled throughout; Jane Austen grumbling to a publisher about a manuscript kept for six years, poor sales figures for the first and second printing of The Great Gatsby, the unexpected connection between William Saroyan
Dec 01, 2013 rated it liked it
This is not a book to read from cover to cover, but good coffee table or reference book (there is a handy reference index by author or booktitle in the back). Some tidbits were super interesting, while others not so much to me. I found searching for facts by my favorite author the best way to read it.)
Jul 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway which didn’t influence my review.

When I saw A Reader’s Book of Days offered in a giveaway, I entered to win a copy because I was eager to read a fun and informative book offering trivia about literary figures, past and present. And while I enjoyed some of this book and learned a few things along the way, the book fell short of my expectations. It was not user friendly and it was filled with many mundane entries that I felt were a waste of my time. The copy
Aug 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: gift givers
Recommended to Skjam! by: Goodreads
Disclaimer: I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway on the premise that I would review it. My review is based on the Advance Reading Copy; there may be small changes in the finished product.

Unlike most of the books I review, I have not read every word of this volume, though I certainly intend to. The format is a page a day of births and deaths of authors, interesting incidents in writers’ lives and fictional events that happened on that day. In addition, there is an introduction to each mon
Oct 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book to review. It's not the kind of book you pick up and read from cover to cover, so I have to admit that I haven't read the whole thing. There is an entry for each day of the year, so naturally, you pick it up and read what literary events happened on your birthday. Some are quite interesting, and some are unbelievably dull. In the introduction, the author discusses how he spent a year just combing through books to find any references to dates, and t ...more
Angela Ryser Bahling
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
This book just arrived in the mail from Goodreads. I am the oh-so-happy recipient of this Firstreds book! Haven't read it cover to cover as I want to read each entry on it's designated day. I have flipped through and chosen a few blurbs from significant dates for me. I am really looking forward to beginning each day with a good cup of coffee and this book. It already has a designated home in my library!
Hannah Henson
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I didn't read this book as intended by the author. It took me two years to read it. Once I finally incorporated it into my daily reading, it was a joy! It is full of facts and fun tidbits about books (my favorite!). Plus each day had a few author's birthdays. A good read for any Jeopardy! fan. I'm going to pass it along to another bibliophile I know, so he can start the new year right.
Oct 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I received my copy via GoodReads First Reads Giveaways - thank you!!

Obviously I haven't finished this one yet, as I just received it today, but I did read the introduction and today's entry and I can tell that I'm going to love this book! Excited to work my way through the year!
Eh, it was OK. Some entries were too cleverly-constructed (clauses within clauses) that didn't make apparent why a particular anecdote was chosen for that day. Not easy to read in long stretches.

But I did find out that PD James and I share a birthday.
Oct 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Perfect for any bibliophile or historian in your life. Author Tom Nissley, eight-time Jeopardy! champion and former bookseller brings stories & anecdotes from authors and time periods to life in this brilliant book. Fun, fascinating and enough facts to make you sound quite clever in any situation.
Feb 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyable if you like trivia and/or all things bookish. I caught one glaring error, however, in that the author referred to Stewart O'Nan's magnificent novel as "The Last Day at the Red Lobster". The correct title is "Last night at the Lobster".
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is quite engaging. Thanks to Hannah for recommending it to me - I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A most wonderful bedtime read. It's a book of days, the calendar in order, one day per page, with a short list of writers who were born or died on that day, and where. Then five or six entries about writers, or characters, for which that date is significant. A wonderful compendium of interesting facts, silly facts, very well stated personal opinion about books that might be unfamiliar to others, and accidents that caused physical injury to Ernest Hemingway (there were plenty, from plane crashes ...more
Peg Weissbrod
The premise of this book was intriguing but did not hold my interest.
Apr 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
“November in the anti-April: gray and dreary, the beginning of the end of things rather than rebirth. It’s the month you hunker down- that is if you don't give up entirely.” (Page 343)

The above comes from the introduction to the month that also happens to be the month of my birth. I looked this up following the pattern of many readers according to the author, Tom Nissley in his introduction to his book, A Reader’s Book of Days. He says most readers will investigate their own month and date of bi
Howard Cincotta
I have no better nor more reliable nightstand companion than Tom Nissley’s A Reader’s Book of Days, which presents a variety of literary happenings for each day of the year. At first I thought I would limit myself to reading the entries for that particular day. But the anecdotes and incidents are too fascinating, and soon you find yourself paging through other months and days for stories that are moving, interesting, or just plain quirky. A sampling:

Take January 24. In 1922, Ezra Pound becomes t
Octavia Cade
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books
What a great idea for a book! I flipped straight to the entry for my birthday, then went back to the beginning to read the whole thing through. A Reader's Book of Days is stuffed with interesting little stories about authors and their books, and there's a lot that's been added to my to-read list.

My one criticism is the lack of diversity. Obviously I didn't count or make a spreadsheet or anything, so I'm guessing ratios here, but it seemed like 90+% of authors mentioned were from North America or
Jan 08, 2014 rated it liked it

As the author notes in his Foreword this book can be read many different ways. As it a book with an entry for each day of the calendar year one can follow the calendar by reading an entry a day, one can just open the book and find a date ( birthday, anniversary, etc) and read the literary notes for that day, or one could of course read this just like any other book beginning to end in a few days or weeks.

I have chosen option 1 but have decided to review the book now as it seems best to let pe
Dec 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads, z-2014
I have been reading this book - one entry per day - for 2 months now and I am afraid I have to say it isn't as good as I had hoped it would be. It is rather dry - and the author discusses very few authors that I have even heard of. I will keep reading - hoping I find more things that interest me.
First, I do need to say that I have not read this entire book. It is a book that was meant to be read over many days – 365, to be exact. The author has compiled tons of information about all things lite
Jun 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Tom Nissley's "A Reader's Book of Days" is an odd, yet intriguing book. It really defies easy description. On its surface it is a book of author trivia arranged by the days of the year. But the nature of that trivia is what sets it apart. Nissley, who would rival fellow Washingtonian Nancy Pearl for his vast knowledge of books, finds a variety of ties to a particular day--the day a book came out, a book review, an incident in a book that happened on a day--with a particular eye for the ironic qu ...more
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
After receiving this book as a Christmas gift from my husband in 2013--a book he knew I didn't have because it had just been published!--I put it on the bedside table, to read a little every night. That worked...sometimes. Sometimes I did have to catch up on several days at a time. Now that I've finished it, the book will stay by the bed to dip in and out of at will.

Tom Nissley's project is a dream for any book lover: collecting bits of book-related information for every day of the year. The boo
Dec 03, 2013 rated it liked it
I won an advanced copy of A Reader's Book of Days from a Goodreads giveaway.

Let me first say that I can only imagine how fun this book was to research and write. Scouring through biographies, journals, and books to compile noteworthy events sounds like a dream job. I'm sure Tom Nissley now has an almost encyclopedia-like knowledge of literary chronology, and I could feel his enthusiasm for the project oozing from the introduction.

When I got into it though, the book was very broad. A narrower sco
Jeff Hanson
Dec 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
Tom Nissley, former Jeopardy Champion and Amazon Omnivoracious blogger, compiled an astounding amount of interesting literary trivia into this book of days. Each day of the 366 includes births, deaths, and an assortment of odd facts spanning a wide range of literature--from the obvious authors like Shakespeare, Dickens and Melville, to Kerouac, Hemingway, graphic novels, baseball books, and literary reviews. While the research is impressive, the dispassionate, stilted, impersonal and convoluted ...more
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: usa, c21st
I should have known better than to waste my hard-earned money on this book - it is exactly what it purports to be, a book of trivia, most of it utterly insignificant, and far too much of it about American authors that I've never heard of, probably for good reason.
There were occasional items of interest, but reading the book in chunks each month over the course of a year, I've forgotten what they were.
The only thing I will remember is that Aldous Huxley died on the same day as President Kennedy
Dec 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
I intended to read this book page-a-day style, sticking to the current day's entry. But paging through and reading randomly, or checking my birthday entry, anniversary entry, etc. has proved irresistible.

Each month's chapter starts with an annotated list of seasonally fitting books, and I've enjoyed discovering new items for my "to read" list. Each daily entry then lists two author births and deaths and a page full of fascinating nuggets about the literary publications, events, scandals, and fa
Matt Martinson
Jan 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"A Reader's Book of Days" is the perfect, must-have book for any true book nerd. Nissley does what his title promises, presenting one-page, devotional-type "meditations" on events that happened on that day. Some are real events--authors' births or deaths, dates books were published, letters written on that day, etc--and others are events in fictional books.

Two things make the book even more extraordinary. First, Nissley has apparently read everything. He touches on all kinds of books from all o
Aug 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Many delicious factoids & literary gossip porn. How difficult the categorizing and winnowing task must have been.

Charming promo video:

ix: typo? Dr Johnson to Mrs. YHRALE. (Should be Thrale?)
295..Johnson's birthday thoughts on turning 60
18..Renata Adler response
20..Sterling Hayden..100 ton schooner memoir Wanderer
23..London...when I have $, read
25..Johnson on Ossian
383..Dec 4..Dangerous Liaisons.."each of us possesses what we need to r
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: The author is a friend. However, I loved A Reader's Book of Days and I think that the WAY that I read it made all the difference: I read it each morning at breakfast with my granola and coffee. If you are a book lover, you are probably reading something before you go to bed already anyway so this would only cut into prime book time, right? But in the morning (if you are gainfully employed and have to report somewhere), you don't want to get hooked into anything that might make y ...more
Oct 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
I won a paperback advanced reading copy of this book through Goodreads and found it to be very enjoyable. It is a step above the usual day-at-a-time calendar with any number of unusual facts and notes on many authors that I love and some that I have never encountered. I can appreciate all of the detailed work that went into extracting all of this data and arranging it by the most appropriate day. I have not read it cover to cover but enjoy reading each day as it comes up and also enjoy skipping ...more
Dec 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I received this book free from the Good reads first reads program. I am so looking forward to reading this. I just got it today and I am really excited to start each day reading this book. I may change my review when I get done but for now I am just excited to read it. I have now been reading this book for a couple of months now and I love it. It has become apart of my daily routine reading interesting tidbits about books that I didn't know. You can tell there was a lot of thought and care put i ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Book Lust to Go: Recommended Reading for Travelers, Vagabonds, and Dreamers
  • Off the Beaten Page: The Best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Clubs, and Girls on Getaways
  • By the Book: A Reader's Guide to Life
  • A Little History of Literature
  • The History of the Book in 100 Books: The Complete Story, From Egypt to E-Book
  • My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop
  • Insurrections of the Mind: 100 Years of Politics and Culture in America
  • Every Book Its Reader: The Power of the Printed Word to Stir the World
  • Characters in Search of a Novel
  • Remarkable Books: The World's Most Beautiful and Historic Works
  • Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America's Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
  • Due Considerations: Essays and Criticism
  • On The Books: A Graphic Tale of Working Woes at NYC's Strand Bookstore
  • A Weird and Wild Beauty: The Story of Yellowstone, the World's First National Park
  • The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked-Room Mysteries
  • The Smithsonian Book of Books
  • A History of Britain in Thirty-six Postage Stamps
  • The Wisdom of the Shire: A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life
See similar books…
Tom Nissley is the owner of Phinney Books, a neighborhood bookstore in Seattle, and soon will be opening Madison Books, in another Seattle neighborhood. He's also the author of the literary almanac, A Reader's Book of Days, was an eight-time champion on Jeopardy!, and founded's books blog, back when it was called Omnivoracious.
“BORN: 1856 George Bernard Shaw (Man and Superman, Major Barbara), Dublin 1894 Aldous Huxley (Brave New World, Crome Yellow), Godalming, England DIED: 1934 Winsor McCay” 1 likes
More quotes…