A Reader’s Book of Days by Tom Nissley (Norton, November 2013)
With the working subtitle Auspicious Births and Untimely Deaths, Bad Reviews and Bestsellers, Hoaxes and Scandals and Other True Tales from the Lives and Works of Writers for Every Day of the Year, Tom Nissley, an eight time Jeopardy! champion has combed through literary miscellany to find not only birth and death dates of writers for each day of the year, but unusual facts and tidbits as well. Compiled by month and then by day, each month begins with a short essay quoting authors and characters (“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers,” ---Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables) and then lists half a dozen or so titles that typify the month. Each day that follows is full of surprises. Who knew that on October 1, 1888 L. Frank Baum (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) opened Baum’s Bazaar in Aberdeen, South Dakota offering housewares and toys (the store failed within a year) or that on May 15, 1853 Charlotte Bronte’s refusal to marry the Reverend Arthur Nicholls caused him to break down during a public service (she said yes a year later). Pick up the book and see what happened on your birthday, read pages at random, in chronological order or limit yourself to one page, the current day, per day. Any way you pursue this treasure trove you are sure to find fun facts with which to dazzle your friends or at least be inspired to pick up an old friend or try something new.