- Author Bio
From “the most powerful book critic in the English-speaking world” (Vanity Fair) comes 100 personal, thought-provoking essays of the life-changing books she wouldn’t want you to miss—beautifully illustrated throughout.
Legendary former New York Times critic and bestselling author Michiko Kakutani once again brings her wealth of knowledge and passion about books to eager readers—but this time with her personal selections of more than 140 works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that have had a profound effect on her life. “Why do we love books so much,” she asks in her introduction. “These magical brick-sized objects are actually tiny time machines that can transport us back to the past to learn the lessons of history, and forward to the future, where we may be granted glimpses of more ideal worlds, or more dystopian ones that serve as dark mirrors of what we could become, should we misuse the gifts of science, or fail to protect our ideals and our planet.” Books have always been her escape and sanctuary, the characters of some novels feeling so real to her childhood self that she worried they might leap out of the pages at night if she left the book cover open. In fact, Kakutani is so connected to her beloved books, she refuses to see certain movie adaptations—even the iconic Lord of the Rings—for fear of the cinematic scenes crowding out the detailed images in her head.
More than just recommendations, Ex Libris covers a broad range of topics that help build a well-rounded reader and citizen of the world—from the historical (Federalist Papers, The Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.) to the timely (Elizabeth Kolbert’s harrowing The Sixth Extinction, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale) to the fantastical (the Harry Potter novels, Where the Wild Things Are). With richly detailed illustrations by lettering artist Dana Tanamachi that evoke vintage bookplates leafed between Kakutani’s passionate essays, Ex Libris is always pointing us to our next great read.
MICHI’S DESERT ISLAND BOOKS: This is not a dry list of recommendations selected from the canon. Rather, Kakutani is like a close friend curating works that have left the biggest impression on her—from classics to revisit like As I Lay Dying and The Great Gatsby to modern must-reads like John Updike’s “wildly underestimated” In the Beauty of the Lilies and Ayobami Adebayo’s Stay with Me, which she stumbled upon serendipitously. Taken together, the collection will bring great diversity to any bookshelf.
A COVETABLE FORMAT: A 304-page hardcover with a rounded spine, foil stamping, high-quality cream paper, and charming full-color illustrations.
THE BOOK CLUB BOOM: Reading might be a solitary activity, but discovering a book is a social event. With 25 million members, Goodreads and book clubs are thriving, too. With little time to spare, every reader is eager to cut through the noise and find a really good recommendation; who better to give one than Kakutani, one of the world’s most well-read people?
Marketing: National advertising campaign
Social media and influencer campaign
Targeted email marketing
Random House e-newsletters and websites
Major book club outreach
Extra content available for booksellers
Publicity: National print and online outreach
National newspaper/book review section outreach
Targeted outreach to trade publications and outlets dedicated to books and reading
Holiday gift guide + year-end best-of list focus
Author Social Media: @michikokakutani (Twitter), @michi_kakutani (Instagram)
“Former New York Times book critic Kakutani delivers an ebullient celebration of books and reading. She comes up with an eclectic list of titles that have shaped her life, including classics (Shakespeare, Frankenstein, Moby-Dick), biography and memoir…and contemporary fiction (Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah). Each selection is accompanied by a brief, elegant essay explaining her connection to the work…. Kakutani’s recommendations and her ‘sense of the shared joys and losses of human experience’ are revelations.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)