Journalist Michael Kinsley has described Michael Dirda as “the best-read person in America,” then added “but he doesn’t rub it in.” Michael M. Thomas called him, in the New York Observer, “the best book critic in America." Nevertheless, no one named Michael was involved when Dirda was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his reviews in the Washington Post or when his recent book, On Conan Doyle, picked up an Edgar award from the Mystery Writers of America. Dirda's latest volume collects fifty of his poignant and puissant essays about “the literary life.” The result is a celebration, a fan’s notes, the perfect gift for any booklover or for one’s own bedtime browsing. For readers who admire Janet Flanner, Joseph Mitchell, Edmund Wilson and M.F. K. Fisher, this volume is the ideal literary companion. As admirers of his earlier books will expect, there are annotated lists galore—of perfect book titles, great adventure novels, favorite words, essential books about books, beloved children’s classics, and, not least, a revealing peek at the titles Michael keeps on his own nightstand.
Michael Dirda is a Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and longtime book columnist for The Washington Post. He was once chosen byWashingtonian Magazine as one of the twenty-five smartest people in our nation’s capital (but, as Michael says, you have to consider the competition). He also writes regularly for the Times Literary Supplement;the New York Review of Books and other literary journals. His previous publications include the memoir An Open Book, four collections of essays—Readings, Bound to Please, Book by Book, and Classics for Pleasure—and On Conan Doyle, for which he won an Edgar Award. A lifelong Sherlock Holmes and Conan Doyle fan, he was inducted into The Baker Street Irregulars in 2002. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.