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A Literature Wikipedia

A friend of mine, Ellen Pall, has started a website to address a pressing need: how to know, when approaching the works of an unfamiliar author, which are the good books to read and which are the ones to avoid. The content of the website will be contributed by users, and Ellen is looking for all willing participants. (I don’t know how she plans to monitor the cranks.) Below, she explains her mission far better than I could.

Dear Friend of Books,

I’m writing to invite you (okay, beg you) to visit a literary website I’m about to launch. As I may have told you, is intended to serve as “A Reader’s Guide to Unfamiliar Literature”-a resource to help an interested reader decide which book to try first of an author she or he has never read.

The idea for the site came from my late, lifelong, beloved friend Debbie Sankey, who pointed out that if you start with a weak or atypical work by even the most marvelous author, you will probably never read that author again. Yet there’s no reference book to suggest where to begin. In fact, such a reference book could scarcely exist, since the “right” place to start is almost always a matter of opinion.

That is why your spending a few minutes on the site would be such a favor to me.

My hope is that will grow to be a thriving (if narrowly focused) forum, a useful compendium of considered opinions. Right now, though, it’s only the bare bones of such a site. My web designer and I have entered a hundred or so authors’ names, a handful of book titles, and a few recommendations as to where to-or where not to-start.

I’m writing to ask you please (please) to go to the site in the next few days and put a few leaves on this skeletal tree, perhaps by adding an author, perhaps by recommending one or another work by a writer you especially like. If you could, if you would, add two authors, or ten, or twenty, I will be deeply beholden to you. If you ARE an author, could you please put yourself and your works in, if they are not there already?

Because the site is not yet live, you’ll have to type “” into your browser or use this link: to get there. 1(Searching for “Debbies Idea”-or “Debbie’s Idea”-will not work.) The site is simple and self-explanatory. Registration takes a few minutes. Your e-mail address remains private.

Many, many thanks for any time you can give this infant work of love.

Yours in the Fight for Literature,


P.S. Please send me or the Webmaster word of any bugs/glitches/stupid oversights you notice, etc. so we can fix them. And please do pass this letter along to anyone you think might be interested!