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So Many Books, So Little Time

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  2,847 ratings  ·  472 reviews
The well-known publishing correspondent and self-described "readaholic" chronicles a year spent reading-and the surprises it brought.

In early 2002, Sara Nelson-editor, reporter, reviewer, mother, daughter, wife, and compulsive reader-set out to chronicle a year's worth of reading, to explore how the world of books and words intermingled with children, marriage, friends,
Hardcover, 242 pages
Published October 13th 2003 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.41  · 
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Erin Cox
Aug 16, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
recommended to me

I liked the premise--reading a book every week for a year and chronicling the experience--but as the author and I have very different tastes (she hates 'historicals,' rarely reads anything written before the 1950's, and avoids nonfiction history accounts like the plague), I didn't feel any sense of shared experience.

also, while I didn't expect each chapter to be a book report, more often than not her reading list just served as a pretext to talk about her marriage or family or
Richard Derus
Feb 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: Sometimes subtle, sometimes striking, the interplay between our lives and our books is the subject of this unique memoir by well-known publishing correspondent and self-described "readaholic" Sara Nelson. From Solzhenitsyn to Laura Zigman, Catherine M. to Captain Underpants, the result is a personal chronicle of insight, wit, and enough infectious enthusiasm to make a passionate reader out of anybody.

My Review: “Allowing yourself to stop reading a book - at
(3.5) Like Nina Sankovitch’s Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, this is a memoir about a year of intense reading, though Nelson averaged a book a week rather than Sankovitch’s one per day (!). It’s enjoyable in much the same way that Nick Hornby’s collected “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” columns are: she’s forthright about what she likes and doesn’t like, and she ruefully reflects on the gap between what she meant to read and what she actually read in 2002. Her reading diary tells a lot about her personal ...more
Michael Dworaczyk
Oct 12, 2009 rated it did not like it
After about 50 pages into it, I decided to put it down. For someone who is an editor and columnist, the grammar is just awful. I realize my own writing style would probably make Henry Fowler cringe; but for someone who writes for a living? It seemed as if she had no idea of how to construct a meaningful sentence. I enjoy stream of consciousness when it’s done right, but this drivel…

And her constantly reminding me that she was in an interracial marriage, or that her husband worked for SNL, was ge
Apr 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to read this book as soon as I saw it. I'd read the reviews and knew I'd love it. And I did.

Sara Nelson started the year with a goal to read a book a week for a year, and to write about it. I'm surprised nobody thought to do this before she did - lets face it, I'm sure most of us could do it without even thinking about it! The book chronicles her journey, starting with her completely disregarding the list she'd made of the books she planned to read!

I spent most of the time I was reading
Jan 25, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People with a deep and abiding love for books
Shelves: i-own
There were moments in this book where I was convinced she was writing about me...the way her husband doesn't read, yet she tries to get him to read; how some of her friends simply don't understand her adoring love for all things bookish...those are just a few. However, there were moments when I rolled my eyes and got a bit annoyed because she would ruin books for me that I have yet to read. The ruining wasn't just that she said it wasn't "that good" but she actually gave away the ending of a boo ...more
Jan Rice
This book opened me up to the idea of books about reading. I read it a long time ago and today just wanted to add it to my new "books about reading" shelf. In the book a lady resolves to read a book a week the whole year long and subsequently uses that in a memoir and voyage of discovery. I think. The details are no longer with me but the pleasant glow remains.
I'm really not sure what I thought about this. I enjoyed reading it, but Sara Nelson is such a horrendous book snob! I'm sorry, but I don't really care what people think about what I read - I don't have one book for home reading and one that is ok to be seen in public with, and I don't agree that you can't be friends with someone if you recommend them a book and they hate it. The debate is half the fun! Because of this, every time I found myself mentally adding a book she liked to my TBR I had t ...more
Connie G
Although the subtitle of the book calls it a year of passionate reading, the first half of the book seemed like the year of the frenzied woman trying to fit her reading into an extremely busy life, including a career as an editor at Glamor magazine. Many of the first essays were about the author's family, friends, and life in New York City with just brief mentions of the books she read. But she gets into a better groove later in the book, discussing how sometimes you don't choose a book, but the ...more
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the author’s foray into meeting a challenge she set for herself - to read at least one book a week in a year. Currently Sara Nelson is an American publishing industry figure who is an editor and book reviewer and consultant and columnist, and is currently the editorial director at She wrote this in 2003 so I can well imagine she was a book reviewer and columnist…whether she was editorial director for Amazon at that time I am unsure.

But that neither here nor there. I picked t
Jun 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
With a mission to read a book a week, which to many is no big feat, the author selects from her massive piles of ARC’s (she does book reviews) TBR piles and what’s new temptings. She does have a family and job that adds a bit of diversion to her goal, but fully intends to work around that.

A little background into her family, marriage, book selecting makes it less of a Goodreads profile page and more biographical, hence, more enjoyable. Selective trashing, tho not ruthlessly, of her DNF’s or DNev
The title of the book spoke more to me than the book itself. I'm often ruing the fact that I'll never get to read all the books I want before I die. I was so hoping to find a kinship with another reader who feels as I do about books. While Nelson and I shared some similar book passions, I found we were different types of readers and I didn't like her rambling writing style.

I laughed at her joke, where she called herself an adulteress, because she cheats on her husband with a good book. I also si
Joan Colby
I looked forward to reading this book with some eagerness as I imagined it would be in-depth ruminations about the books Nelson was reading, just the sort of mental dialogue with another reader that I enjoy. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Nelson focuses primarily on herself, her marriage to a Japanese-American (he’s a set designer on Saturday Night Live! she mentions again and again), her child, her parents, her friends, her career, none of this interesting. She treats the books she is re ...more
Oct 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-books
It's always interesting, whenever I read a Book-Book, to compare myself to the author. Obviously we have a love of reading in common, but it can be so interesting to see what else we have in common and different:
IN Common:
We both love books
We both view reading a book almost like falling in love and can become, um, a little disassociated with the rest of the world when in "book love"
We both have a hard time getting our husbands to read the same books we read
We both think that timing and chance an
Sep 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. I just love reading about other people reading "addictions", how they select their books and where their "love of reading" takes them. I might not agree with all of her opinions in this book, but I loved and agreed with her when she said that you can't totally pre-plan your reading. I've found that out this year with all my "challenges" that I have on here. You can never know what books speak to you and call you to them and when. The journey is fun though, wherever it t ...more
Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It didn't take more than one chapter for me to connect to this book. Stolen by one of my favorite teacher's read list. I was expecting this book to be more of like a story about reading/books from the POV someone who just happen to like books a much as I do... but NO, Sara Nelson goes way beyond an appreciation for literature. This lady really has the right to say she is "a card-carrying member of the compulsive reader's society." Though in my opinion she is the founder. I have never met someone ...more
Mar 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-reads
Here are the top 10 things I have in common with Sara Nelson:
1. She can visualize where a book is located in the house, despite having no organizational system.
2. She can look at a book she owns and remember where it was bought and the life circumstances surrounding her initial reading.
3. She has a "bifurcated reading brain," one part that likes junk and one that likes literature.
4. She gets addicted to books -- both singly and en masse -- and arranges her day and sometimes her morals around rea
May 03, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Don't know if it's because it's written by an American (and therefore focussed more on books published in the US), or because I hadn't read many of the same books as the author, but I didn't get much out of this at all. Had expected to be overwhelmed with lots of exciting new ideas for reading but I don't think I picked up a single convincing recommendation from all the books she had read and talked about. If a good book is like a relationship, as the author says, this book is one of those 'rela ...more
BJ Rose
Jul 25, 2009 rated it it was ok
Such a disappointment!!! "A Year of Passionate Reading" was about almost everything but reading - we learned about problems in her marriage (where's the respect for her husband?), we learned about her travels and the important people she knows and meets, and we get lots of titles of books she read in the past or chose not to read or started but stopped. What we don't get is a review or synopsis of the 52 books she set out to read. We do get a 3+ page appendix of the 21 books she actually read wi ...more
May 27, 2019 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Sitting at the library one day, I got thirty pages in. It was then I realized the author hadn’t yet mentioned one book I recognized and wanted to read. Or, conversely, no books I knew were in this book, and this book didn’t introduce me to any new books that I want to read.

It’s written by an upper class New Yorker who is up on all the latest trendy books and indie books and all those side-genre books you never heard of. As much as I want it to be my scene, it isn’t.

That’s not to say there isn’t
1. I had a love/hate relationship with this book.
Things I liked:
-I learned about a lot of new books that I had never heard of before.
-I like that she didn’t tell any plot spoilers.
-I learned new vocabulary such as bowlerized, dotage, obstreperous, pontification, opine, schadenfreude, oeuvre, logrolling
-As an avid reader, I felt that I could relate to many of the quotes and anecdotes.
Things I didn’t like:
-She was somewhat pretentious at times. She was snobbish in the way she talked about some b
Danielle DeVane Wells
I don't think I would recommend the book unless you were interested in the author. The book is more about the author's life and subsequently the book she happened to read in a year. If you're wanting book recommendations, this is not really the place to find them. There are far better books that do this in an organized manner. But that is not to say that I didn't glean some interesting Concepts from the book about reading... Such as not finishing a book if you're not totally into it and expandin ...more
Jim Razinha
This was nice, quick read on a three hour flight from Fort Lauderdale to Dallas on Monday, even with a fever starting to bake my brain. A List, with life fillers, candid and sometimes vulnerable. Ms. Nelson read many things I wouldn't, gave me a few suggestions for things I want to check out, didn't read some things, didn't finish some (more on that...) Some of her quest was a touch of regret, touch of nostalgia, touch even of guilt, as well as desire to read some things that had been avoided, i ...more
Sarah Sammis
Jul 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm glad I stuck with this book. For the first couple of chapters I had trouble with it because the author seems to take her reading too seriously. She seems to want every book experience to a magical and eye opening experience and gets frustrated when she doesn't experience it or when her kith or kin don't see books or reading the same way.

I'm also glad that I had to wait longer than expected to read this book because it gave me more time to read from the list of books she refers to in her essa
Apr 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sara, obviously we need to meet, talk about our favorite books, go out to lunch, continue talking about books, and end the day by walking over to our favorite bookstore or library. Sara, is a "readaholic". Boy, can I relate--books have completely taken over my house. They spill out of the bookcases, they are piled under tables, they sit on top of the tables, they are stored in bags, they are everywhere. Sara decided to tackle this obsession with reading head on and one year her New Year's plan w ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
I was apprehensive about finally reading this book, to tell you the truth....I'd saved
it for several months and kept picking it up and admiring its cutesy title, its cartoonish cover, and its clever book concept
(try to read a book a week for a year and then write about the experience)....Could the book possibly live up to the
expectations I'd generated for it?

Surprisingly, yes. This book feels like it was custom cut for us, the book-obsessed in the world, with chapters on the
appeal of first l
Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
This is a terrific and engaging book about reading! The author, Sara Nelson makes a New Year's resolution to document a year of reading, and makes a list of books she wants to read. (Naturally I was hooked straight away). She intends to read and review a book a week - quite a goal considering she is also an editor and reviewer!! Nelson quickly discovers that it's impossible to stick to her list and allows fate to bring the books to her.

Nelson's passion for reading is contagious, and it's hard no
Sep 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book about reading - right up my alley. Nelson plans to read one book per week for a year, reflection on why she chose each book and how they fit into the events of her life. The end result is less diary and more rumination on why we read and how our lives affect our choices. Though there is plenty book talk and lists as well. Nelson is quite funny and introspective; I just loved this one. 1/1/11
More than just an account of a year of the writer's reading life, but also her life outside of books. While her tastes and mine seem very different - I hadn't heard of most of the books she talks about - as is always the case with books about books, my TBR list grew as a result of reading this.
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I want more. An updated version of what the author has read since then would be nice, because this book was published 13 years ago, and written 15 years ago. I loved everything about this book. I could have cried when I finished it, because I didn't want it to be over.
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Sara Nelson is an American publishing industry figure who is an editor, book reviewer, consultant, and columnist. She is currently the editorial director at Nelson is notable for having been editor in chief at the book industry's chief trade publication Publishers Weekly from 2005–2009 during a time of wrenching restructuring and industry downsizing. After that, she was book editor at ...more

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