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Publisher's Summary

A spirited and revealing memoir by the most celebrated editor of his time.

After editing The Columbia Review, staging plays at Cambridge, and a stint in the greeting-card department of Macy's, Robert Gottlieb stumbled into a job at Simon & Schuster. By the time he left to run Alfred A. Knopf a dozen years later, he was the editor in chief, having discovered and edited Catch-22 and The American Way of Death, among other best sellers. At Knopf, Gottlieb edited an astonishing list of authors, including Toni Morrison, John Cheever, Doris Lessing, John le Carré, Michael Crichton, Lauren Bacall, Katharine Graham, Robert Caro, Nora Ephron, and Bill Clinton - not to mention Bruno Bettelheim and Miss Piggy.

In Avid Reader, Gottlieb writes with wit and candor about succeeding William Shawn as the editor of The New Yorker and the challenges and satisfactions of running America's preeminent magazine. Sixty years after joining Simon & Schuster, Gottlieb is still at it - editing, anthologizing, and, to his surprise, writing.

But this account of a life founded upon reading is about more than the arc of a singular career - one that also includes a lifelong involvement with the world of dance. It's about transcendent friendships and collaborations, "elective affinities" and family, psychoanalysis and Bakelite purses, the alchemical relationship between writer and editor, the glory days of publishing, and - always - the sheer exhilaration of work.

©2016 Robert Gottlieb (P)2016 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Robert Gottlieb, legendary editor, graceful writer, and world-class balletomane, can add 'wonderful narrator' to his resumé. His warm, slightly sanded voice and cheerful delivery make him an absolutely charming audio companion and the best possible performer of his own memoir." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
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A Lifetime of Reading and Editing

Robert Gottlieb stumbled into editorial work in his early twenties and went on to become one of the most powerful and influential editors of the last 100 years. Anyone who is an "avid reader" will delight in his stories of authors such as John Le Carre, Joseph Heller, Robert Caro and SO many more. (I was delighted to hear about JR Salamanca and Robert Chrichton, authors I enjoyed in my youth who are rarely discussed any longer.) He's also revealing in talking about his work with Bill Clinton, Lauren Bacall, Balanchine, and other celebrities. Finally, the book is a window into the world of publishing as it existed when the written page was king. (Is it still? Not really.) Gottlieb's voice is wonderful, and he brings the material to life beautifully. I rarely read memoirs (I never believe them) but this was edifying and entertaining.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Akin to a conversation with a witty friend.

Would you consider the audio edition of Avid Reader to be better than the print version?

I loved the fact the author was doing the reading. It's like having a delicious conversation with a very witty, interesting friend. Mr. Gottlieb is a superb narrator.
I have gone back to the book and re-reading certain favorite passages. It is that good.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Avid Reader?

His narration of his early years is very entertaining, but some of the best passages are his descriptions of how he managed his authors. Especially enjoyed Heller, LeCarre, Bacall, Tuchman, Caro. It is a fascinating look at the publishing business. He led a life any lover of reading would find ideal.

Any additional comments?

One of the best narrated books in Audible. Enjoyed it very much.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Conrad
  • Seattle, WA, United States
  • 12-22-16

Avid Fan!

What did you love best about Avid Reader?

Insights into the lives of Gottlieb's stable of authors, including Joseph Heller, Ralph Ellison, Bernard Malamud, William Shirer, Irene Selznick, Katharine Hepburn, Lauren Bacall, Doris Lessing, Susan Sontag, Charles Portis, Anthony Burgess, Toni Morrison, John Le Carre, Michael Crichton, Robert Caro, and Nora Ephron. I mean--really!

What other book might you compare Avid Reader to and why?

"Maxwell Perkins, Editor of Genius," by A. Scott Berg

What does Robert Gottlieb bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

A warm, avuncular voice and all the cadence and inflection that only he who lived it can bring.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

"Don't write--type." (This is Gottlieb's advice to would-be authors.)

Any additional comments?

He was Bill Clinton's choice to edit the former president's memoirs. (Mr. Gottlieb, where was your red pencil on that one?) He seems to have retired wealthy, moderately famous, and immoderately happy. However, he never really retired. Editors never do.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Lover of life

Gottlieb has open the door to his life as creative literary legend. Make time for the book and you will receive insights in publishing and literature that will open your mind to what is possible when you live life true to interests and passions.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Marianne
  • PETERSHAM, MASSACHUSETTS, United States
  • 10-02-16

Book addiction

Where does Avid Reader rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I have listened to so many wonderful books, but this is the story of a boy/man/person
who inhales books from an early age

What was one of the most memorable moments of Avid Reader?

Reading War and Peace in 14 hours

Which scene was your favorite?

Playing with a yoyo while standing outside his building after being ordered outside to play as a child

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

yes, but can't

Any additional comments?

This is the sort of book for people who devour books

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Great autobiography

Robert Gottlieb has lived an extraordinary life and I'm glad I got to hear him tell it to me. Autobiographies are not always improved by being read by the author but this time it certainly felt right.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Intriguing

Intriguing memoir about publishing, editing, and writing books and magazine from one who did it. Very compelling.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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An entertaining memoir by a legendary figure of the New York publishing world

This is a compulsively readable memoir of his long and remarkable career in book and eventually magazine publishing by an esteemed, even legendary, editor. Robert Gottlieb was editor in chief of two of the most powerful publishing houses in New York and also of the New Yorker magazine. He knew everyone who was anyone in the literary world for many decades and his memoir includes entertaining sketches of many famous writers. Readers of a certain age will enjoy recalling the many best selling and important books Gottlieb mentions which he acquired from the early sixties through the nineties. A lifelong fan of ballet, he essentially had a second career as a dance critic and writer and became an important figure in the dance world as well. The book is ably read by the author and pleasant to listen to.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Great book.

Lovers of the New Yorker, Robert Caro, Toni Morrison and many other literary luminaries will love this well-written and well-narrated book.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A book for avid readers!

A wonderful book for one who loves to read Gottlieb As lead anAmazingly full life and has written about it lucidlyAnd engagingly. He cannot help being a name dropper because he is known everyone in the literary and dance world.