The Back Page, set of 2

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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the Author
  • Reviews

Where else can you find an entertaining book filled with the miscellany of the publishing world? Readers can discover everything from the trivial to the important in Bill Ott's The Back Page, part readers' advisory and part commentary on the world of books and literature, good and not so good.

Ott's book is a compendium of the literal back pages of Booklist. A column that has been published in the magazine since 1991, The Back Page is filled with humor and occasional defiance of the conventional, delighting readers with anecdotes, stories, quizzes (which are almost impossible to answer without cheating) and a host of insights into what makes books what they are—those wonderful and magical sources of great thoughts. Readers will enjoy essays about books and authors, genre fiction, life at Booklist and so much more.

Foreword: Confessions of a Back Page Junkie, by Joyce Saricks
Booklist, The Back Page, and Me

Books and Authors

Golden Ages
What I Read on My October Vacation
The Cruellest Month
Sharing Sputnik
Character Education, the Postgraduate Course
Big Wheels
Jazz Biography
Train Weasels
Blame It on My Youth
Pandora in Blue Jeans
Dancing to the Music of Anthony Powell
Hearing and Seeing the Music of Time
Extolling Impurity
A Failure to Communicate
Higher Numbers
Inadmissible Evidence
Outside In and Inside Out
The Irony in Irony
Eighteen Straight Whiskeys
Naipaul on the Warpath
The Seabiscuit Sweepstakes
Trying to Read Stendhal
Short Lists, Apples, and Oranges
Fighting the Good Fight

Genre Fiction

Detective of the Heart
Michael Connelly's Los Angeles
Washington, D.C., through Pelecanos' Eyes
Hard-Boiled Chicago Just around the Corner
It Began with Beck
Himes Comes to Harlem
007 Turns 100
Violent Novels in a Violent World
Remembering George Higgins
Michael Dibdin
Magdalen Nabb
Real Politik, Ross Thomas–Style
Smiley's Beginnings
Zen and the Art of Series Maintenance
Noir Is Where You Find It
Strangers in the Night
Women Write Pulp
Jim Thompson under the Tuscan Sun

Life at Booklist

Best American Fiction from the Last 25 Years
Blood on the Tracks
Mea Culpa
I Hate These Meeses to Pieces
He's Still a Lifeless, Fat Pig
Barbara Duree and Booklist
The Books That Got Away

Life beyond Books

Diagramming Sentences
Going Rogue
Travelin' Light (or Not)
Bill's Excellent Adventure—at the White House
Cupcakes in My Go-Pak
Why I Hate Crafts
Parsing the Paradigm Shift
It Was 40 Years Ago Today . . .
In the News
No! in Thunder
A Not-So-Wonderful Life
Alas, Poor XyWrite, I Knew Him Well
Books Ruined My Life
Catfight in the Newsroom
Jury Duty


Where Do They Get Those Titles?
Working Titles
Great First Lines
Swan Songs
Libraries and Librarians in the Movies
Art and Murder
Useless Information, Poorly Organized
Their Side of the Story
The Bard of Avon
Literary Real Estate
Art Imitates Life
Getting and Spending
More Than the Facts, Ma'am
All the Presidents' Novelists
Writers in Love
Crimes Past
First Firsts
Hard-Boiled Kissers
Puppy Love
Too Many Morals
Trust Your Instincts—NOT
Goin' Hollywood
Great Lines
Poetic Last Lines
Valentine Poems
Poems for a Sunday Afternoon
Sex with Dead Presidents
Dentists and Movie Stars


Bill Ott

Bill Ott, Editor & Publisher, has been at Booklist for 25 years. In addition to his various management duties, he continues to edit the crime fiction section of the magazine and delights in discovering new hard-boiled writers, particularly those who set their stories in Europe and Asia (where noir is more than mere window dressing). To get away from books, he attempts to play golf.

"For many years, Bill Ott has filled the back page of Booklist Magazine with some of the sharpest and funniest writing about books I've ever come across. Finally, these pieces have been collected in a book. It's hard to overstate how impressive all these back pages are when placed one after another. One emerges from this book feeling that Ott has chronicled a period of American reading history uniquely well."
--John Green, Young Adult Author

"For me Ott eased the pain of being a library administrator for the past two decades. No matter how frustrated I was with leaky roofs, recalcitrant catalogers, problem patrons, testy trustees, miserly budgets, and malfunctioning computers, I could always go to the Back Page for a bit of relief. Bill is the library profession's foremost curmudgeon, and his Back Page column hits all the points on the curmudgeonly continuum ...outrageous, frivolous, grumpy, and ultimately insightful. Having all of his columns in one place is a terrible temptation for me because I know I'll never get back to reading Moby Dick."
--William Manley, Library Administrator

"This is a welcome addition to the pleasure reading of any librarian-focused collection."

"Ott's wry and clever observations are truly entertaining and more than just a pleasant way to spend a few minutes. take it with you anywhere for entertainment and edification."
--Ray Saadi, Acadiana LifeStyle

"Overall, this is an amusing and educational collection of columns from a well-known author, editor, and publisher. They make for enjoyable reading for anyone who loves books and film."
--Collection Building

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