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How Reading Changed My Life (Library of Contemporary Thought) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 25. August 1998

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A recurring theme throughout Anna Quindlen's How Reading Changed My Life is the comforting premise that readers are never alone. "There was waking, and there was sleeping. And then there were books," she writes, "a kind of parallel universe in which anything might happen and frequently did, a universe in which I might be a newcomer but never really a stranger. My real, true world." Later, she quotes editor Hazel Rochman: "Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but, most important, it finds homes for us everywhere." Indeed, Quindlen's essays are full of the names of "friends," real or fictional--Anne of Green Gables and Heidi; Anthony Trollope and Jane Austen, to name just a few--who have comforted, inspired, educated, and delighted her throughout her life. In four short essays Quindlen shares her thoughts on the act of reading itself ("It is like the rubbing of two sticks together to make a fire, the act of reading, an improbable pedestrian task that leads to heat and light"); analyzes the difference between how men and women read ("there are very few books in which male characters, much less boys, are portrayed as devoted readers"); and cheerfully defends middlebrow literature:

Most of those so-called middlebrow readers would have readily admitted that the Iliad set a standard that could not be matched by What Makes Sammy Run? or Exodus. But any reader with common sense would also understand intuitively, immediately, that such comparisons are false, that the uses of reading are vast and variegated and that some of them are not addressed by Homer.
The Canon, censorship, and the future of publishing, not to mention that of reading itself, are all subjects Quindlen addresses with intelligence and optimism in a book that may not change your life, but will no doubt remind you of other books that did. --Alix Wilber

Synopsis

Reading lists of some of the author's favorite books accompany her thoughts on the role of books and reading in her life.

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Format: Taschenbuch
Could have been very enjoyable, but marred by hypocrisy. In one breath the author is excoriating the elites of literary-criticism for trying to dictate what tastes readers should or shouldn't pursue when in the prior paragraph she had herself criticized businessmen for reading the seven habits of highly effective people, rather than a text she would find more worthy, like Moby Dick. (The Seven Habits is likely suspect to Ms. Fadiman because its written by a religious white male, and read by businessmen -read: greedy caucasian republicans). Her discussion of censorship likewise ignores the dangers posed by the current political correctness movement on college campuses(of which she has only praise), in favor of taking to task right wing parents groups who are concerned about the content of literature being assigned to their youngsters. Then she blithely suggests that the political speeches in Ayn Rand's novels, with which she obviously disagrees, should have been omitted by a good editor. (Free speech for me but not for thee?) There's also a curious sense of anti-maleness to the book. No suggestions for young male readers are provided, only for young girls. And it is strongly hinted that only the female gender truly understands the joy of reading. Maybe the author got this idea because she consulted virtually only with women in writing the book, as shown in her acknowledgements, or maybe her politics are generally based in some sort of hostility to men. Despite all these problems, the stuff about the misunderstood joys of being a young reader, and the typical reaction of one's peers, was wonderful. Too bad the author thinks only young girls, and not any young men,have ever experienced this. She's wrong. I know. But as of yet there aren't any entries in the genre about a young man's experiences with "Lord of the Rings" and "Where the Red Fern Grows" etc., so this will have to do.
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Format: Taschenbuch
I hesitated to shell out $8.95 plus tax for such a slim volume, but I am glad I did. I had recently skimmed an old copy of Mortimer Adler's How To Read A Book and found it utterly utilitarian. Ms. Quindlen's short but insightful book, on the other hand, succeeds in conveying the pleasure of reading for no particular reason other than the pleasure of reading. She gives a heart-warming account of her own history and experiences as a reader. This part of her book makes a wonderful story for young readers. (Her thoughts on technology are less convincing. Kids today are so much more at ease with computers than we are that it won't be hard for them to make the switch to electronic books-the size of which will shrink while their capacity expands within the next few years.) Definitely recommended by this reader.
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Format: Taschenbuch
Anna Quindlen's paean to reading will help you recall your early printed friends and how you felt when an unread title by a favorite author appeared at the library. If that isn't reason enough to inhale this 80-page celebration of words, you'll also get to take a tour through the history of printed communication and you'll be reminded that the enjoyment you feel when you read as an adult can be brought near the level of joy you felt while reading as a child. I'd never read any of Quindlen's work outside of the NY Times before, but I'll have one of her novels in hand shortly (sorry, Amazon -- this is what libraries are for).
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Format: Taschenbuch
It was her physical description of books which first captured me, the smell, heft,and appearance of books. Anna Quindlen comments on the high suspicion towards those who love to read..."Don't you have anything BETTER to do with your time?". I have long felt more connected to those around me through my reading, finding books to be the safe passage to other people and places. Ms. Quindlen puts words to the feelings for most book lovers, the pleasurable whiling away of hours, the smell and feel of books, discovering a new author. Although this is a very small volume it is a delight for any booklover.
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I'm the type who sees reading as a kind of avtivity I'd like to do more of but never get around to doing. This book really inspired me to start reading again as I did when I was a kid-- with utter intrigue. Plus, there's a wonderful collection of book lists in the back. I recommend this for all you readers out there who have shoved aside the magic of reading amidst our busy days.
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