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A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me about Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter
by William Deresiewicz Details
A self-styled intellectual rebel dedicated to writers like James Joyce and Joseph Conrad, William Deresiewicz never thought Jane Austen's novels would have anything to offer him. But when he was assigned to read "Emma" as a graduate student, Austen's devotion to the everyday, and her belief in the value of ordinary lives, ignited something in Deresiewicz. He began viewing the world through Austen's eyes and treating those around him as generously as Austen treated her characters. Progressing from his days as an immature student to a happily married man, "A Jane Austen Education" is the story of one man's discovery of the world outside himself.
Books: A Memoir
by Larry McMurtry Details
In "Books: A Memoir," Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry writes about his endless passion for books: as a boy growing up in a largely "bookless" world, as a young man devouring the vastness of literature with astonishing energy, as a fledgling writer and family man, and above all, as one of America's most prominent bookmen. He takes us on his journey to becoming an astute, adventurous book collector who would eventually open stores of rare and collectible editions in Georgetown, Houston, and finally, in his previously "bookless" hometown of Archer City, Texas.
How Literature Saved My Life
by David Shields Details
Blending confessional criticism and anthropological autobiography, in "How Literature Saved My Life," acclaimed writer David Shields explores the power of literature to make life survivable, maybe even endurable. Books are his life raft, but when they come to feel un-lifelike and archaic, he revels in a new kind of art that is based heavily on quotation and consciousness. And he shares with us a final irony: he wants "literature to assuage human loneliness, but nothing can assuage human loneliness. Literature doesn't lie about this--which is what makes it essential."
My Life in Middlemarch
by Rebecca Mead Details
Rebecca Mead was a young woman in an English coastal town when she first read George Eliot's "Middlemarch," regarded by many as the greatest English novel. After gaining admission to Oxford and moving to the United States to become a journalist, through several love affairs, then marriage and family, Mead read and reread "Middlemarch." The novel, which Virginia Woolf famously described as "one of the few English novels written for grown-up people," offered Mead something that modern life and literature did not. In this wise and revealing work of biography, reportage, and memoir, Mead leads us into the life that the book made for her, as well as the many lives the novel has led since it was written.
My Reading Life
by Pat Conroy Details
In "My Reading Life," bestselling author Pat Conroy revisits a life of reading through an array of wonderful and often surprising anecdotes: sharing the pleasures of the local library's vast cache with his mother when he was a boy, recounting his decades-long relationship with the English teacher who pointed him onto the path of letters, and describing a profoundly influential period he spent in Paris, as well as reflecting on other pivotal people, places, and experiences. His story is a moving and personal one, girded by wisdom and an undeniable honesty.
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
by Azar Nafisi Details
Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a bold and inspired teacher named Azar Nafisi secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids in Tehran, fundamentalists seized hold of the universities, and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the girls in Azar Nafisi's living room risked removing their veils and immersed themselves in the worlds of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov. "Reading Lolita in Tehran" is a remarkable exploration of resilience in the face of tyranny and a celebration of the liberating power of literature.
The Books That Mattered: A Reader's Memoir
by Frye Gaillard Details
Frye Gaillard's first encounters with books were disappointing. As a child, he never cared much for fairy tales. But at the age of nine, he discovered Johnny Tremain, a children's novel of the Revolutionary War which began a lifetime love affair with books, recounted here as a reader's tribute to the writings that enriched and altered his life. In a series of deeply personal essays, Gaillard blends memoir, history, and critical analysis to explore the works of Harper Lee, Anne Frank, James Baldwin, Robert Penn Warren, John Steinbeck, and many others. As this heartfelt reminiscence makes clear, the books that chose Frye Gaillard shaped him like an extended family.
The End of Your Life Book Club
by Will Schwalbe Details
"What are you reading?" That's the question Will Schwalbe asks his mother, Mary Anne, as they sit in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. This is the inspiring true story of a son and his mother, who start a "book club" that brings them together as her life comes to a close. Over the course of two years, while Mary Anne battles advanced pancreatic cancer, she and Will carry on conversations that are both wide-ranging and deeply personal, prompted by an eclectic array of books and a shared passion for reading. Their list jumps from classic to popular, from poetry to mysteries, from fantastic to spiritual. Throughout, they are constantly reminded of the power of books to comfort us, astonish us, teach us, and tell us what we need to do with our lives and in the world.
The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia
by Laura Miller Details
"The Magician's Book" is the story of one reader's long, tumultuous relationship with "The Chronicles of Narnia." Enchanted by its fantastic world as a child, critic Laura Miller returns to the series as an adult to uncover the source of these small books' mysterious power by looking at their creator, Clive Staples Lewis. What she discovers is not the familiar, idealized image of the author, but a more interesting and ambiguous truth: Lewis's tragic childhood, his unconventional love life, and his intense but ultimately doomed friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien. Finally reclaiming Narnia "for the rest of us," Miller casts "The Chronicles" as a profoundly literary creation, and the portal to a life-long adventure in books, art, and the imagination.
The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared
by Alice Ozma Details
When Alice Ozma was in the 4th grade, she and her father decided to see if he could read aloud to her for 100 consecutive nights. On the hundredth night, they shared pancakes to celebrate, but it soon became evident that neither wanted to let go of their storytelling ritual. So they decided to continue what they called "The Streak." Alice's father read aloud to her every night without fail until the day she left for college. Alice approaches "The Reading Promise" as a series of vignettes about her relationship with her father and the life lessons learned from the books he read to her.
The Shelf: From LEQ to LES
by Phyllis Rose Details
After a career of reading from syllabuses and writing about canonical books, Phyllis Rose decided to read like an explorer. Casting herself into the untracked wilderness of the New York Society Library's stacks, she chose a shelf of fiction almost at random and read her way through it. Rose's shelf of roughly thirty books has everything she could wish for: a variety of authors and a range of literary ambitions and styles. Measuring her finds against her own inner shelf, she creates an original and generous portrait of the literary enterprise.
The Whole Five Feet: What the Great Books Taught Me about Life, Death, and Pretty Much Everything Else
by Christopher R. Beha Details
After undergoing a series of personal crises and learning that his grandmother had used the Harvard Classics to educate herself during the Great Depression, Christopher Beha turns to the great books for answers. Inspired by his grandmother's example, Beha vows to read the entire Five-Foot Shelf, one volume a week, over the course of the next year. As he passes from "Don Quixote" to essays by Cicero, Emerson, and Thoreau, he takes solace in the realization that many of the authors are grappling with the same questions he faces: What is the purpose of life? How do we live a good life? And what can the wisdom of the past teach us about our own challenges?
The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (and Two Not-So-Great Ones) Saved My Life
by Andy Miller Details
Andy Miller had a job he quite liked, a family he loved, and no time at all for reading. Or so he kept telling himself. But no matter how busy or tired he was, something kept niggling at him. Books. Books he'd always wanted to read. Books he'd said he'd read that he actually hadn't. Books that whispered the promise of escape from the daily grind. And so, with the turn of a page, Andy began a year of reading that was to transform his life completely. "The Year of Reading Dangerously" is Andy's inspirational and very funny account of his expedition through literature: classic, cult, and everything in between.
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading
by Nina Sankovitch Details
After the death of her sister, Nina Sankovitch found herself caught up in grief, dashing from one activity to the next to keep her mind occupied. But on her 46th birthday, she decided to stop running and start reading. There were obligations she couldn't put on hold--a husband, four kids, three cats, and piles of dirty laundry--but everything else would have to wait. Sankovitch devoted herself to reading a book a day: one year of magical reading. She found a lesson to be learned in each book, ultimately realizing the ability of a good story to console, inspire, and open our lives to new places and experiences--reading as therapy.
Updated 03/25/2015

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