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Witty, humane, clear-sighted, smart, and funny. Andrew Miller takes a long, hard look at The Canon of Western Lit, discusses why we should attend to it, and why we shouldn't be in awe of it, or weighed down by it, or scared of it. Thank you, Mr. Miller.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
The book takes the form of a sort of diary-blog-journal of a year in the life of a middle-aged Englishman from Middle-England. He parodies his own suburban middleness with a lot of wit and engaging humour, poking fun at his rat-trap, 9 to 5, 1.8-children lifestyle and the fact that he no longer has time to pursue his passion, reading books (although he is an editor at a London Publishing Company and had written 2 books before this one, so it isn’t as if he is totally disengaged from literature).
In order to remedy this situation (and also to provide the premise for writing this book), he decides to read 50 books that he has either always wanted to read, or feels that he ought to have read. They are all works of fiction. Some of the books are difficult to read, such as Middlemarch, Moby Dick and Of Human Bondage. Others are more popular and accessible, such as The Da Vinci Code, Pride and Prejudice and Absolute Beginners.
The book is definitely interesting from start to finish, and he certainly gives tips about what not to read and a few ideas about books that are worth a try (although, as he is a somewhat eccentric character, I do have some doubts about whether I would enjoy his favourite picks as much as he does). At times, he drifts off on a bit of a tangent and you want him to get back on course, and also, he doesn’t review a significant number (half perhaps?) of the books, he just tells you that he read them.
Despite these shortcomings, it's a good entertaining, worthwhile read, excellently narrated by the author himself. Unfortunately, his absolute-number-one-must-read pick of all the books is Atomised (aka The Elementary Particles) by Michel Houellebecq, which I sadly could not find on an Audible search - and so maybe I will have to find and read an old-fashioned 'dead-tree' version of this book.
45 of 46 people found this review helpful
A very honest memoir of a reader gone astray rediscovering books. There were several laugh-out-loud moments. The struggle is very nerdy, very real.
Andy Miller is very fond of going on tangents, even including a long letter that he never intended to send to an author that felt more like a page-filler than actual content. I was never quite sure when his train of thought would end. He never did explain how books saved his life. He had a goal of reading two bad books, and only got around to reading one of them. As far as I can tell, Chekhov's gun is still sitting on the mantel.
34 of 35 people found this review helpful