Every Book It’s Reader

Inspired by a landmark exhibition mounted by the British Museum in 1963 of 440 books that made things happen in the world, Basbanes examines the specific aspects of book culture, considers various works that have shaped our culture, nudged the course of history, and influenced the way we see the world.


“Nicholas Basbanes has had books and writers running through his veins for most of his lifetime, which makes picking up Every Book Its Reader the equivalent of browsing through a rare-book store, spending the morning in a public library, and visiting your most literate friend—all in the course of a few hours.” —Brigitte Weeks, Washington Post

“No one writes with more verve and fluency about the history of books and reading than bibliophile Basbanes…A reader's delight, Basbanes' work testifies to all that literature does for the human spirit.” —Donna Seaman, Booklist

“Whether in a garret or a sitting room, readers across the centuries have found their life’s work—and altered the course of history—through books. That’s the premise underlying Nicholas Basbanes’ admirably wide excursion into literature, history and biography.” —Kathleen Burke, Smithsonian

“No living person has thought more about the extraordinary power of books than Nicholas Basbanes.” —Ellis Henican, Newsday

The author, a lover of nearly everything printed and bound, has done an important deed. His fifth book allows us to step away from our myopic fixation on writers and consider the reader. —Karen Long, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Nicholas Basbanes is the Pied Piper of bibliophiles…there is perhaps no other modern American writer who has as thoroughly explored the world of the book…what a sweet ambrosial tart it will be for those…"gently mad" who live and relive that immortal phrase—“In the beginning was the word.” —John Harper, Orlando Sentinel

“…a unique and intriguing lens through which to analyze history." —Carol Memmott, USA Today

Basbanes’ curiosity and insight give his works…a warmth and intimacy lacking in drier academic studies…[he is] impressively catholic in his bibliographic excursions…Every Book Its Reader reminds us that books, in all their myriad forms, are necessary equipment for living. —Matthew Price, Los Angeles Times

“[T]hese essays…occupy a corner of the grand salon of the history of ideas, though a corner furnished with a comfortable chair and a reading lamp casting a warm, welcoming glow.” —Amanda Heller, Boston Globe

“Basbanes’s enthusiasm is winning, and he has fresh, valuable things to say…" Kirkus Reviews

“Nicholas Basbanes has built a solid professional life around a passionate dedication to books—those who write them, read them, collect them, look after them and treasure them…he has now parlayed his passion into five books about books in 10 years. The latest…is a paean to the impact of books on history and on the people, very often dedicated readers, who help make it; it also includes extended interviews with a range of omnivorous readers, critics and philosophers who have based illustrious careers on their intake.” —John Baker, Publishers Weekly