Bound to Please is a selection of Michael Dirda's essays and reviews on lesser known books that deserve to be read. Michael Dirda is the editor of the Washington Post Book Review and holds a PhD in comparative literature (I'm biased on this because I got my MA in comp. lit. and it's still a pretty young field). His insights are educated and erudite, as well as charming and accessible, almost all the time, whether he's writing about Herodotus or Terry Pratchett or a lesser known biography of George Bernard Shaw (reviews for all of which appear in this book). That he should be both titanically intelligent and a complete lit. geek is just kind of formidably adorable....
OK, at this point, I think it's only fair to admit that I have a crush on Michael Dirda, or least on Michael Dirda's brain.
But anyway, according to his introduction to Bound to Please (which is charming... sigh) Dirda's whole reason for compiling this particular collection of essays/reviews was to introduce a selection of books that deserve reading but don't often get read. It does this quite nicely too - my 'to read' list has nearly doubled (plus Name of the Rose is getting a bump up in the queue). It was also neat to read his fantastic review/criticism of two books that I already love - Possession by A.S. Byatt and Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series.
All in all, if you like reading book reviews (I do) or you enjoy light but insightful literary criticism, Bound to Please is a lovely book to have around. It's the sort of thing you can just pick up and browse through - especially when you're not sure what you want to read next.