Next week, Europa Editions, a New York-based publishing house with ties to the Italian publishing firm Edizioni E/O, releases Second Reading, which collects 60 pieces from the series of the same name, which appeared in the Washington Post between March 2003 and January 2010. Frustrated at having his column in the Post’s renown “Book World” section taken away without explanation after twenty years, Yardley was casting about for new ventures when the idea of a series based on his reconsiderations of selected books from a lifetime of reading came to him. As he soon discovered, he was not alone in appreciating the chance to step away from the weekly onslaught of press releases and review copies:
It didn’t take long for me to realize how much fun it was to reach back into my past reading–as you’ll see, the word “fun” appears frequently in these pieces–or to discover how much pleasure it gave many of the Post’s readers to be offered discussions of (mostly) worthy older books. The fixation of journalists on the new and the trendy is a forgivable occupational hazard, but it neglects the interests of readers who want something more substantial than the latest Flavor of the Day. My own tastes certainly are not everybody’s tastes, but the steady, heavy volume of incoming e-mail convinced me that I had stumbled onto something that readers wanted.
While I’ve never been deluged with a “steady, heavy volume of incoming e-mail,” I can certainly second the view that wandering away from best-seller lists–and even from the stock of a good bookstore’s stock of in-print titles–can be great fun. It’s certainly part of what had kept me going for a little over five years now.
The full list of the 94 books that Yardley covered over the course of seven years can be found on this site at the link to “Jonathan Yardley’s Second Readings” in the list of Sources at the left of this page.
It should also be noted that Europa Editions has already done its share in rescuing neglected books, having brought two worthy novels–Alfred Hayes’ The Girl on the Via Flaminia and Patrick Hamilton’s Hangover Square back to print in handsome paperback editions.