Confessions of a Book Reviewer: The Best of Carte Blanche

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

Foreword by Francesca Lia Block

For more than 20 years, Michael Cart’s column for Booklist has delighted YA literature enthusiasts and bibliophiles in general with an engaging mixture of wit, insight, and good old fashioned publishing industry gossip. Spotlighting Cart’s unique perspective as both devoted book reviewer and self-proclaimed book addict, this “Carte Blanche” compilation offers readers the chance to trace the blossoming of YA lit into a bona fide phenomenon that continues to grow in popularity. In the columns gathered here, he explores

  • reading, writing, and book collections and collecting;
  • the past, present and future of YA lit;
  • a multitude of genres, including historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, humor, and comics; and
  • memories of notable figures in the world of publishing through tributes and memorials.

These pieces remain as engaging and fun to read as when they first appeared.

Preface        In the Beginning: The Column That Started It All


“The Great Cavern of Old Time” June 1 and 15, 1994

Chapter 1    On Reading and Writing: Passions and Pleasures
“The Paradigms, They Are A-Shiftin,’” January 1 and 15, 1996
“Is Reading Selfish?” March 15, 2004
“My Romance . . . with Reading,” September 15, 2004
“A Difficult and Complex Art,” March 15, 2014
“Read and Discuss,” December 15, 2015


Chapter 2    Books, Books, Books: On Collections and Collecting

“The Accidental Book Collector,” December 15, 2005
“Hercules Had It Easy,” April 15, 1995
“Heap o’ Books,” May 15, 1998
“Where I Get Those Ideas,” September 15, 2003
“Boxes Everywhere,” September 15, 2006
“My Environment,” February 15, 2013


Chapter 3    That Was Then, This Is . . . Young Adult Literature, Past, Present, and Future

“Happy Anniversary,” January 1 and 15, 2017
“The First Golden Age,” February 15, 2017
“Romance Redux,” March 15, 2017
“A Near-Death Experience,” April 15, 2017
“A New Golden Age,” May 15, 2017
“The Present and the Prospective,” June 1 and 15, 2017
“The Dream Becomes a Reality,” March 15, 2000
“A Modern Master,” December 15, 2000


Chapter 4    With a Genre Here and a Genre There: Historical Fiction and Romance

“Back Home Again,” May 15, 2002
“Nightmare,” April 15, 2011
“Only a Great Man,” April 15, 2015
“The Object(s) of Their Affection,” September 15, 2008
“My Cicada Love Song,” September 15, 2011


Chapter 5    Other Worlds: Fantasy and Science Fiction

“Cutting My Teeth on Fantasy,” April 15, 2002
“What Rowling Has Wrought,” April 15, 2004
“The Camelot Connection,” May 15, 2006
“The Future Is Now,” May 15, 2008
“The Possibility of the Impossible,” May 15, 2007
“The Possibilities of the Impossible,” May 15, 2011


Chapter 6    What’s So Funny? Wit, Humor, and the Comics

“Dissecting the Frog,” February 15, 2016
“Crazy about Comics,” March 15, 2016
“Just Ducky, Thanks,” February 1, 2012
“Magic Man,” June 1 and 15, 2010


Chapter 7    The Lives That Late They Led: Biography

“A Disease of English Literature,” June 1 and 15, 2015
“So Many Lives, So Little Space,” June 1 and 15, 2012
“Get a Life!” June 1 and 15, 2011
“Limning Lives,” June 1 and 15, 2008
“A Writer’s Life,” June 1 and 15, 2007


Chapter 8    Tributes: Memories and Memorials

“My Churches,” November 15, 2013
“A Clean, Well Lighted Sanctuary,” April 15, 2000
“Among the Digitally Divided,” October 15, 2005
“A Love Letter to Weetzie,” May 15, 1999
“Descent into Limbo,” May 15, 2003
“Love, Passion, and Lectures,” November 15, 1998
“Remembering Myra and Mike,” November 15, 1996
“Remembering Bill,” November 15, 2003
“His First Novel,” November 15, 2004
“Hog Heaven,” March 15, 1998
“America’s New Laureate,” August 2006

Conclusion: Some Stray Thoughts on Columns


Michael Cart

Michael Cart is the former director of the Beverly Hills (CA) Public Library and the author or editor of twenty-seven books. He is a columnist and reviewer for the American Library Association’s Booklist magazine. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Parents magazine. Mr. Cart is a past president of both the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) and the National Council of Teachers of English’s Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN). He is the recipient of the 2000 Grolier Foundation Award; in 2008 he became the first recipient of the YALSA/Greenwood Publishing Group Service to Young Adults Achievement Award; and is a recipient of the 2018 ALAN Award. Before his relocation to the Midwest, he taught young adult literature at UCLA.

”More than book reviews, despite the volume’s subtitle. These short pieces explore genres, introduce readers to numerous authors worth learning about, and present those authors from a voracious reader’s point of view … This volume will have wide appeal and will engage teenage and adult readers in all sorts of libraries: high school, public, and academic."

"A whimsical romp ... Fellow lovers of books and young adult literature will relish this collection. It is like taking an enthusiastic walk through the mind of Michael Cart.”

"Combined with his self-effacing and lively sense of humor, Cart’s writing is just plain fun to read.”
— Catholic Library World