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How to be Well Read: A guide to 500 great…
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How to be Well Read: A guide to 500 great novels and a handful of literary…

by John Sutherland

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This is billed as a "guide to 500 great novels" and is written by a literary scholar. It contains brief descriptions/analyses of each of the novels. There are, of course, many novels you would expect to see in such a compilation. I found that this volume includes many that you would not. I mean, Jaws by Peter Benchley or Lace by Shirley Conran might be fun reads, but do you need to read them to be "well-read"?

Most of the books included were 20th/21st century, but Sutherland says he didn't include books that he's considered in his other books (i.e. Victorian), and that he tried to include a variety of genres. There were some books I would consider "contemporary classics" and there were some books/authors I haven't heard about that look interesting. As long as you are aware that this book mostly includes popular fiction, it's worth a look. I mostly skimmed it.

2 1/2 stars

ETA--I went back and looked at the list of books I gleaned from this book, and see that it is quite varied and contains a lot of what look to be, or are known to be, very good books. So maybe I am being too dismissive in saying that it "mostly" includes "popular" fiction. I think I was just taken aback by some choices that I found to be unexpected from someone considered to be a literary scholar. I'm not "Not Recommending" this book. ( )
  arubabookwoman | Dec 18, 2017 |
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As the annual flow of novels grows ever greater, it's a hard job to keep up, let alone sort the wheat from the chaff. Fortunately John Sutherland is on hand to do precisely that for you, and in 500 wittily informative essays he introduces you to the very best of the world's fiction. There are imposing Victorian novels, entertaining contemporary thrillers and everything in between, from spy novels to romance. In each case a sense of the flavour of the novel is brilliantly evoked and a compelling case made for why it should be a candidate for the bookshelf or bedside table.… (more)

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