Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Just Jennifer

The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (And Two Not-So-Great Ones) Saved My Life by Andy Miller (Harper Perennial, December 2014)

In the tradition of Henry Miller’s (no relation) The Books in My Life, editor and writer Andy Miller writes homage to his love of reading by reading classic novels, and some not so classic.  He sets his sights high, fifty pages each day and begins with Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita.  Some books he is rereading (Of Human Bondage) as he didn’t finish them the first time he tried them; others are books he has said over the years he read (but didn’t really) and some find their way on to his “List of Betterment”.  Miller had planned to start with a dozen or so books, but to his chagrin, he had missed many more classics along his way to forty than he thought (Jane Eyre, War and Peace, Don Quixote) and his list soon numbered around fifty titles.  With a fair amount of self-depiction along the way, Miller talks about his successes (he was surprised to learn he enjoyed Middlemarch) and his less than favorite books (The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart) honestly.  While not meant as a literary criticism, this book offers some unusual insights into the classics and not so classics: who else could successfully compare Moby Dick to Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code.  The book is filled with quotes and footnotes for the true book geek and three appendices in the back of the book include Miller’s List of Betterment, The Hundred Books that Influenced [Me] Most and Books [I] Still Want to Read offer more books to be added to any to-be-read or re-read list.  Readers can go to his website: www.mill-i-am.com for updates on his ongoing project.  Anyone who has ever wanted to embark on a reading project will find much in here to enjoy.

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