Staff Picks: Books

Staff-recommended reading from the KPL catalog.

It's very, very long

I remember being very excited to see this in our catalog, where I could put a hold on it before it hit the shelves. But then I got it.

Before you prepare to start this three volume autobiography, you should know two things. First, the first volume is over 700 pages. In other words, how interested are you in Mark Twain?

Second, the index in the back of the book is bad. I use indexes. I was hoping to use this index to pinpoint parts of the autobiography that I would enjoy; especially areas of Mark Twain's thought that might be interesting, or controversial, or insightful. But the index seems to have no subjects--only places, people, and events. There is no entry, for example, on "religion," or "God," or related juicy topics. I brought my copy back. Perhaps I should have given it more time and effort? Please comment if you had a better experience!


Autobiography of Mark Twain. Volume 1


I agree with Matt on one point: Volume one of the new Mark autobiography is more than 700 pages. As for his concern about the indexing, well, we’d be missing the point if we let that deter us. This book — by intent — rambles. The author starts with one topic, then thinks he needs to mention some other point, then veers off onto another idea that just occurred to him …. Think “Roughing It” — Mark Twain starts telling about his mining days but wanders off with some whopper about a ram. The way to read this amazing book is to follow the plan in which it was written: Begin anywhere. If that portion doesn’t hold your interest at the time, skip to some other page. This book is packed with very funny anecdotes, heart-wrenching experiences and absolutely brilliant observations about the human condition. We’re reminded almost every page we’re reading a genius. I eagerly await volume two.
Thanks for your perspective and advice on how to read! from Publishers Weekly review: "Eschewing chronology and organization, Twain simply meanders from observation to anecdote and between past and present."
I had a similar experience. I was excited and then soured on this important release after reading Garrison Keillor's review, sorry to say. A subject based index could add to the experience though Michael's point is well taken: open anywhere and read this intentionally meandering time capsule from Twain.
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