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Why I Read: The Serious Pleasure of Books de…
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Why I Read: The Serious Pleasure of Books (original: 2014; edição: 2014)

de Wendy Lesser

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309865,126 (3.49)25
"An exhilarating volume that will ratchet up the joy for all reading groups "Wendy Lesser's extraordinary alertness, intelligence, and curiosity have made her one of America's most significant cultural critics," writes Stephen Greenblatt. In Why I Read, Lesser draws on a lifetime of pleasure reading and decades of editing one of the most distinguished little magazines in the country, The Threepenny Review, to describe a life lived in and through literature. As Lesser writes in her foreword, "Reading can result in boredom or transcendence, rage or enthusiasm, depression or hilarity, empathy or contempt, depending on who you are and what the book is and how your life is shaping up at the moment you encounter it." Here the reader will discover a definition of literature that is as broad as it is broad-minded. In addition to novels and stories, Lesser explores plays, poems, and essays along with mysteries, science fiction, and memoirs. As she examines these works from such perspectives as "Character and Plot," "Novelty," "Grandeur and Intimacy," and "Authority," Why I Read sparks an overwhelming desire to put aside quotidian tasks in favor of reading. A book in the spirit of E. M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel and Elizabeth Hardwick's A View of My Own, Why I Read is iconoclastic, conversational, and full of insight. It will delight those who are already avid readers as well as neophytes in search of sheer literary fun"--… (mais)
Membro:pife43
Título:Why I Read: The Serious Pleasure of Books
Autores:Wendy Lesser
Informação:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2014), Hardcover, 240 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
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Etiquetas:to-read

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Why I Read: The Serious Pleasure of Books de Wendy Lesser (2014)

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Mostrando 1-5 de 8 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Not rated because I didn't finish reading this book.

In fact, I didn't really even try to read it after the first 20 pages because it was so dull. The author may have wonderful insights but skimming through the chapters to find something engaging didn't turn up anything to spark interest. The prologue was a long, drawn out meandering with nothing to the point. Yawwwn. For a fine example of how to drive the reader crazy, look at the first two sentences of the final chapter (chapter heading, Inconclusions).
  SandyAMcPherson | Nov 23, 2020 |
Wendy Lesser is a very erudite reader, and I would give this book five stars except I think the title is misleading. It should be Why I Read Classic Literature: A Comparison of Writing Styles. You would really enjoy the book, for example, if you studied Russian Literature or Shakespeare. For the average reader, the author provides a suggested reading list with a web link to materials for a reading group. I share some of the others opinions such as I don't care for James Joyce's writings and we both love Scandinavian mysteries. I wish she would have included more contemporary writers such as Michael Chabon or Karl Ove Knausgard. I also reading a biography on the architect Louis Kahn by the same author that is quite good, so I looking forward to reading her other works. ( )
  kerryp | Jul 4, 2020 |
Its a question that I have often asked myself. I read, buy and think about books compulsively as many others here do. I loved Lesser’s perspectives on this question. She eloquently captures in thought-provoking ways our book love and acknowledges how difficult it is to understand and explain. A major treat is leaving this book with a new booklist of works of which I am not familiar. This book was a delight. ( )
  joyfulmimi | Dec 29, 2018 |
Where but in Wendy Lesser's "Why I Read: The Serious Pleasure of Books" might one find a discussion of both Isaac Asimov and Henry James in the same paragraph? True, James fares better, but she finds "serious pleasure" in both. To this writer and literary critic, virtually any book can stimulate intellectual excitement.

To Lesser, it isn't so much what we read as how we read. "Pleasure reading is a hungry activity: it gnaws and gulps at its object, as if desirous of swallowing the whole thing in one sitting," she says. "But we need to slow down, and at times even come to a deal stop, if we are to savor all the dimensions of a literary work."

The mystery, at least for me, is how Lesser can "slow down" and yet still read and then reread as many books as she does. And while she may read the occasional Asimov, most of her reading seems to be more of the difficulty level of James, Faulkner, Balzac and Dostoyevsky. What would be challenging, even intimidating reading to most of us, she treats as casual reading.

One of the many interesting thoughts Lesser offers is that there is no such thing as progress in literature. It's not like chemistry or engineering, which advances decade by decade. We may view contemporary literature as superior simply because it is easier to follow and more relevant to our lives today, but that doesn't make it better (or worse) literature. Lesser points out that one of the miracles of literature is that those reading it a century or more after it was written may find things in it the original readers did not. Books change as their readers change.

Like the literature she favors, Lesser's book can be challenging. So just slow down and savor it. ( )
  hardlyhardy | Jul 12, 2017 |
Wendy Lesser talks about the art of literature and the satisfaction she finds in different aspects of it, from a well-crafted plot built around well-rendered characters, to a confident authorial voice, to the invisible but essential contributions of translators.

A lot of works of literary criticism, review, or appreciation strike me as annoyingly pretentious or snobby, as though they're written by people desperate to show off their own discerning tastes and erudition. Lesser, thankfully, is entirely free of this. She's smart, thoughtful, and reflective, and she enthusiastically owns her opinions about the books she discusses, but she never comes across as full of herself, or as if she's appointing herself the arbiter of literary taste. Quite the opposite, in fact, as she readily acknowledges that her readers will undoubtedly disagree with her on many points. Her writing is intelligent without ever being opaque or show-offy. And while she values quality writing, she is refreshingly free of snobbery, including the most annoying form of literary snobbery (at least to me), genre snobbery. She does mostly focus on literary fiction and books that are widely considered classics, but she actually takes a very broad view of what can be considered "literature," and she happily embraces the mystery and spy thriller genres, and even spends several surprising pages talking about Isaac Asimov.

I did find myself wishing her reading and mine overlapped a bit more, as a lot of the books she talks about are ones I'm not familiar with. In particular, she devotes a lot of words to Henry James and to 19th century Russian novels, neither of which I have read very widely. (In fact, I've read just enough Henry James to conclude that I don't get along with his prose style, which Lesser clearly adores.) But even when she's talking about books I'd never heard of, the things she has to say about them are so clearly expressed and so well-connected to the larger points she's making that I never felt confused or left out of the conversation. Instead, I felt a real connection with her, reader to reader, despite what very different readers we are. And I thoroughly enjoyed her sharing her thoughts as a reader with me. ( )
  bragan | Mar 6, 2017 |
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"An exhilarating volume that will ratchet up the joy for all reading groups "Wendy Lesser's extraordinary alertness, intelligence, and curiosity have made her one of America's most significant cultural critics," writes Stephen Greenblatt. In Why I Read, Lesser draws on a lifetime of pleasure reading and decades of editing one of the most distinguished little magazines in the country, The Threepenny Review, to describe a life lived in and through literature. As Lesser writes in her foreword, "Reading can result in boredom or transcendence, rage or enthusiasm, depression or hilarity, empathy or contempt, depending on who you are and what the book is and how your life is shaping up at the moment you encounter it." Here the reader will discover a definition of literature that is as broad as it is broad-minded. In addition to novels and stories, Lesser explores plays, poems, and essays along with mysteries, science fiction, and memoirs. As she examines these works from such perspectives as "Character and Plot," "Novelty," "Grandeur and Intimacy," and "Authority," Why I Read sparks an overwhelming desire to put aside quotidian tasks in favor of reading. A book in the spirit of E. M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel and Elizabeth Hardwick's A View of My Own, Why I Read is iconoclastic, conversational, and full of insight. It will delight those who are already avid readers as well as neophytes in search of sheer literary fun"--

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