Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How Reading Changed My Life

How Reading Changed My LifeHow Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Journalist and bibliophile Anna Quindlen recounts her own thoughts and experiences on what it means to live the reading life.

Quindlen retreads familiar ground here, but readers love reading about reading. Observe. (And they like it in fiction, too.) She adds a soothing voice to chorus of readers (and a refreshingly non-Luddite perspective on ebooks), offering up some delectable quotables for your commonplace book. So instead of summarizing Quindlen's bookish essay, I'll give you a list of the best reader's books I've enjoyed throughout the years.

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman - These essays are short and passionate, perfect microcosms of the incidents that make up a reader's life.

Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason by Nancy Pearl - Probably none of us need to hear about more books we have to read, but you may want to lend your ear to an experienced librarian whose goal is to tell you what books you might actually enjoy. Pearl is the least snobbish reader I've ever met, and her goal is always to get people to find a book they love, even if it's in a genre or by an author they've never even heard of. Get to know what people love to read, she says, and then you can introduce them to the great stuff.

The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby - I love Nick Hornby's "Stuff I've Been Reading" columns (from The Believer magazine), and I've written about each collection here.

How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read by Pierre Bayard, Jeffrey Mehlman (Translator) - Very witty, very French; it may even make you reconsider listening to that voice in the back of your head that keeps saying "You should be reading Middlemarch right now, not the latest J.A. Jance." (Both are valid choices.)
The Child That Books Built: A Life in Reading by Francis Spufford - Wonderful all the way through, this is probably my favorite bookish memoir ever. Spufford's nonfiction works are Hornby recommendations, and I May Be Some Time: Ice and the English Imagination is high on my to-read list.

“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”

“How is it that, a full two centuries after Jane Austen finished her manuscript, we come to the world of Pride and Prejudice and find ourselves transcending customs, strictures, time, mores, to arrive at a place that educates, amuses, and enthralls us? It is a miracle. We read in bed because reading is halfway between life and dreaming, our own consciousness in someone else's mind.”

“While we pay lip service to the virtues of reading, the truth is that there is still in our culture something that suspects those who read too much, whatever reading too much means, of being lazy, aimless dreamers, people who need to grow up and come outside to where real life is, who think themselves superior in their separateness.”

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