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How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen

How Reading Changed My Life

by Anna Quindlen

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I'm not sure about this book. On the one hand I found things in it I could relate to: the love for reading from a young age, needing more books than there were present in the house (I borrowed from our neighbour), the Reader's Digest books that found their way into our home at a certain point in time. And the one book that made a life time impression. (For me there were 2, the first 'adult' ones I read when my mum thought I was old enough to read them (I think I was about 14): A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford and The Proud Breed by Celeste de Blasis, both were Dutch editions, since my English was not good enough to read in English at that age.

But the huge disappointment for me was, that through the content of the book's chapters I was not able to filter how reading changed the author's life.

When I read a title like that, I expect a 'before' compared to an 'after'. Be it before I could read and after, or before book X and after, some kind of comparison.
What I found was more or less a shortened history of print, literature and how certain (kinds of) books were received and treated by society or groups of people. And that generalisation I did not expect at all.

Concerning the lists at the end of the book: as far as I can tell, they are quite English language literature orientated. For someone to write a book about reading and changing of lives, I would have expected a more world wide range of books to recommend, books to save from a fire etc.

All in all quite a disappointing read for me. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Aug 22, 2015 |
Before sending this to an interested fellow bookcrosser, I flipped through the pages as a way of saying goodbye. I ended up reading the whole book again! Initially, this book was required reading for a college seminar course about "how we read." It was the best course of my life for many reasons, but this book was one of probably 20 books I was reading in a 3-month period. So I'm sure I got more out of it this second time.
It's wonderful! Inspiring! Quindlen is an outstanding writer who makes any topic enjoyable to read about. In this book, she discusses the politics of books, the stupidity of labeling some books "low-brow" as if they're not worthy of reading, and makes a good case for the value of such books. This book is about how reading (especially lowbrow books) can inspire students to become writers and how reading can, as the title states, change your life! Any reader will relate to the truthful musings of this established writer and you will have a deeper appreciation for your books and yourself as a reader after reading this. :) ( )
  engpunk77 | Aug 14, 2015 |
This is a very thin volume which talks about the author's experiences with books and reading. She mentions those books which she liked the most, advises us that reading for pleasure is as valid as reading for education, and reminds us of those books we most treasured as kids. My own was a falling-apart book of Hans Christian Anderson's Fairy Tales which I read over and over and kept rubber-banded so I wouldn't lose any of the pages. ( )
  SqueakyChu | Aug 4, 2015 |
Yum. What reader isn't gonna give it 5 stars? ( )
  bookczuk | Feb 26, 2015 |
A tribute to the reading life....lovely! ( )
  Sherri68 | Mar 30, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345422783, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:58 -0400)

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and bestselling author Anna Quindlen uses the mastery of the medium in which she works to send an utterly compelling message as she explores the importance of books in her life and their vital role in society. THE LIBRARY OF CONTEMPORARY THOUGHT is a groundbreaking series where America's finest writers and most brilliant minds tackle today's most provocative, fascinating, and relevant issues. Striking and daring, creative and important, these original voices on matters political, social, economic, and cultural, will enlighten, comfort, entertain, enrage, and ignite healthy debate across the country.… (more)

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