Aspen Times Weekly book review: ‘Textbook’ |

Aspen Times Weekly book review: ‘Textbook’

by LINCEE RAY for The Associated Press
This book cover image released by Dutton shows "Textbook," by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. (Dutton via AP)
AP | Dutton



Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Dutton, 2016

336 pages, hardcover

It’s been 10 years since best-selling author Amy Krouse Rosenthal impressed critics and readers alike with her memoir, “Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life.” Now she’s stretching the boundaries with a groundbreaking new twist on the traditional literary experience.

“Textbook” is an intimate look into Rosenthal’s world. Divided into sections that mirror school subjects, Rosenthal analyzes topics such as art, music, math, science and history to take the reader on a journey. In the social studies unit, Rosenthal considers why we never see chubby symphony conductors. She shares stories from famous poets in the language arts section. She even provides a handy chart of the United States in alphabetical order.

Clearly Rosenthal wants the reader’s experience to be far from linear. As she navigates the textbook-themed chapters, she peppers each page with interesting graphs, charts, photos and drawings. Not only are the margins non-traditional, but Rosenthal’s challenge to the reader is equally unique: to interact with the work.

Rosenthal invites readers to engage in certain stories by offering their own photos or thoughts on each subject through text prompts. Should the reader choose to participate by sending in a self-portrait or photo of a rainbow, Rosenthal promises quick responses and encouragement.

“Textbook” is a delightful collection of interesting scenarios that directly point to life lessons. Rosenthal manages to spotlight grand moments and everyday moments with equal curiosity, proving that it can be both a privilege — and petrifying — to peek into one’s humanity.

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