December 2008 | Nicholas Basbanes

Hello Book Lovers

I am pleased to offer in this exciting new forum my modest take on what is going on these days in the book world, and while I'm at it, to reflect on my continuing adventures among people I have come, with great affection, to regard as the gently mad. To this end, I welcome your comments, and look forward to creating a lively dialogue with one and all.

While the basic theme of this blog will involve the general concept of book culture--and everything that implies--I thought it appropriate to begin where my professional life on the book beat began more than thirty years ago, as a critic and book review editor for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette in Massachusetts. A lot of water has passed beneath the keel since then--thousands of interviews with every manner of book person, hundreds of literary reviews, features, and essays for a variety of newspapers and magazines both large and small, seven published books, dozens of lectures presented at universities and libraries throughout the country--but reading remains the central pursuit, and the one, at root, that matters the most to me.

So without further ado, I'll begin modestly by referring you to a review I recently wrote for the Los Angeles Times on The Private Patient, the latest Adam Dalgliesh novel by the incomparable British crime writer P. D. James, one of my very favorite contemporary authors, and a woman I have had the great pleasure to interview three times over the years. (In time, I hope to have many of these literary features I have written available on my website, which very much remains a work-in-progress; on newer books, I'll also be posting a regular selection of Nick's Picks.)

Meanwhile, here is a brief excerpt from my Times review:

"Since introducing Adam Dalgliesh 46 years ago in Cover Her Face, Phyllis Dorothy James has not been coy about the genuine affection she has for her signature character. It is no surprise, then, that Dalgliesh, a published poet, is never boring, never predictable, always complex. All of the traditional conventions of the crime novel, moreover, are present, not least among them a circle of suspects who each possess motive, means and opportunity to have committed the crime."

You can read the full review at:,0,7749354.story