I am reading another book about books. A favorite pastime of mine. This one's clever title is The Year of Reading Dangerously, written by British author Andy Miller.
The subtitle intrigued me: How Fifty Great Books (And Two Not So Great Ones) Saved My Life.
Not changed my life, but saved my life. What could this mean?
As his story goes, Mr. Miller, now in his thirties, married and a father, determined that there were books he wanted to read before he was forty and was tired of lying to his friends (and himself) about having read them. So he devised a program, his List of Betterment as he calls it, and set about reading 50 pages a day from books on that list as he commuted to London by train. He began with a lineup of maybe a dozen books and ended up with fifty.
I am enjoying Mr. Miller so far. He provides entertaining details about his daily life and his days as a bookseller. As of today, I am only up to book ten. He begins with The Master and Margarita moves on to Middlemarch, Marx, and is getting ready to read Moby-Dick.
I skipped to the back of the book (of course) to take a peek at his complete list and there are many books that I have never heard of. For example: Atomised by Michel Houellebecq, Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky by Patrick Hamilton, and Absolute Beginners by Colin McInnes. But there are the standards here as well: Anna Karenina, Pride and Prejudice, and On the Road.
He also includes a list - oh, we love lists - of one hundred books that he has read that had great influence on him and a list of Books I Still Intend to Read.
It is a snowy day here (again) . We had over a foot of snow last night. Apparently, I am housebound for a day or two until the weekend and promised warmer days arrive, so I figure to make some headway on Mr. Miller's List of Betterment. I may even come up with a list of my own.
Are you snowed in? What are you reading to pass the time?
I wouldn't say we're snowed in here in Philadelphia. About 8" of snow fell yesterday. It's possible to walk around and there are grocery stores, restaurants, and bars within walking distance.ReplyDelete
The Year of Reading Dangerously sounds interesting. I think it's going to go onto my TBR list. Like you, I like books about books and reading. For quite a while, I used Clifton Fadiman's classic The Lifetime Reading Plan to fill in some gaps in my Books Read list. His book has been updated at least once since it was published in 1960. A personal letter to me from the author makes it extra special. It's always interesting to see how the list of important books changes over time.
Hi, Joan. We at least have sunshine today so that helps.Delete
I too am a big fan of Mr. Fadiman's Lifetime Reading Plan. I once had a copy of the original edition (1960) that I leant to someone and it was gone forever. I now have another that I finally found at a used book shop although it is not in the pristine condition of my first one.
A personal letter from the man! How wonderful. How did you come by that? A response to a fan letter?.
I love the details that Anne Fadiman writes about her dad and family in Ex Libris.
I wrote to Mr. Fadiman to tell him how his enthusiasm for literature had affected me and had rekindled my excitement about literature. I never expected a reply, but received one. It was a warm and friendly letter that I'll treasure. I like Anne Fadiman's essays, too.Delete
I am sure he appreciated your kind words. I have only written to one author and, like you, was thrilled to receive a reply. I don't know why I don't send fan letters more often!Delete
Ha--no, I'm not snowed in, I'm wearing shorts and sweating! We skipped spring and went right to summer here (at least this week, anyway). This sounds like a fun addition to my books about books list. ( I wrote about that on my blog here: http://www.catchinghappiness.com/2015/02/reading-about-reading.html. ) Stay warm and enjoy your extra reading time. That seems a fitting reward for not being able to get out and about.ReplyDelete
Hi, Kathy. I have just been out shoveling out the snow (14 inches deep) from around my car.. A kind neighbor did my walkway and another helped me with the car. I live on a quiet street that never gets any attention from the city snow plows. Probably for the best as then our cars would be totally buried under and barricaded behind Big Piles of Snow.Delete
I loved your post! So informative. I really must read Nick Hornby. Some of the other books I have read and enjoyed and it seems a new book on reading comes out quite often...to my delight.
I especially want to read Alberto Manguel's A History of Reading after enjoying his The Library at Night.
We've had hardly any snow this winter here in Utah; in fact, it's the driest winter on record. But I'm thinking I wouldn't mind a day or two of being snowed in with a book. The Year of Reading Dangerously sounds like a good one. I like books about books. (I'm a bit of a book nerd.) I'll have to look for this one at my library. Hope the snow where you are melts soon. Until then, happy reading!ReplyDelete
Hi, Lark. Perhaps you would like for me to send you a big box of snow? I have plenty.Delete
Be sure to check out Kathy's link (above). She offers a list of many good books on books.
It's odd, but my mind is very distracted with the weather and what's coming next and will food last till the thaw etc., etc., etc. I am finding it difficult to concentrate but doing my best to settle in. Thanks for you comments.
Oh, my God, Belle! 14 inches is a lot of snow. It was in the 60s here today, and I hope your weather has warmed up too.ReplyDelete
I've never heard of Miller, but this is exactly the kind of book I like to read. Books about books: what could be better!
Well, Kat, we now have rain and the snow is mostly gone. Next, I suppose, will come the locusts and toads!Delete
Mr. Miller's List of Betterment books might not be what I would choose as he is a guy who grew up in a different time than I did. That said, it was refreshing to read about books and authors I had not heard of. Although I will admit that there weren't many of those that I am tempted to read.
He did, however, love "War and Peace" and he has some funny things to say about book clubs, book blogs, readers, and authors. And he loves, loves, loves libraries. In fact, some of this book was written in the British Library. A place I visited last time I was in London. Swoon.
We have no snow in Western Canada -- it is a very dry & warm winter here. It sounds like the Betterment plan is a worthy goal. 50 pages a day should be doable, right? I'll try it out with my own list of books ... thanksReplyDelete
It is hard for me to believe that we have had so much snow here south of the Mason-Dixon line and yet you in the far north are enjoying a mild winter. Weather!Delete
Fifty pages a day sounds like a lot to me right now. I think Mr. Miller was able to accomplish that because of his time spent commuting on the train. No distractions!