Thursday, 17 November 2016

the year of reading dangerously

On Monday 18 July I finished reading The Year Of Reading Dangerously, by Andy Miller, which I enjoyed.

The cover carries a Daily Telegraph quote describing it as 'High Fidelity' for bookworms, but it's actually more like Fever Pitch - a description of what it's like to read and love books, within an autobiographical framework. (Mr Miller committed himself to reading fifty particular books in a year, books which I think he had in one way or another given the impression that he had read but hadn't actually, many of them considered classics.)

A lot of the thoughts, insights and experiences were familiar to me from my own reading. The subtitle was 'How 50 Great Books Saved My Life', but it didn't purport to be a greatest books or prescribed reading list. It didn't matter at all that some of the books he liked I didn't like at all (like Master & Margarita, which I think was the first one he writes about, and loved, but which I disliked sufficiently to not finish it) and vice versa (he doesn't like Jane Austen, the monster); he wrote well and interestingly about liking or not liking them. (I didn't expect to like the same ones he liked.)

After I read it I tweeted, in a pair:
- I heartily recommend The Year Of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller. 'Madame @i_am_mill_i_am, c'est moi.'
- Appropriately, I have never read the book, or the author, I allude to in my previous tweet.
Andy tweeted, 'Thank you, this proves you truly understood it. I am pleased!'

I also said in a tweet that 'I disagreed on quite a lot of the books, which I didn't mind, but not the experience, which was the main thing.', and Andy tweeted, 'Yeah I hope each book represents a type of experience you can recognise, rather than duplicating every book.'

(Being able to interact with - most often simply praise/thank - people whose creativity you have enjoyed on page/stage, without I hope being creepy, is one of the good things about Twitter.)

I'd seen the book before, and had been following Andy Miller on Twitter (and had interacted with him before on book-related matters), via Sarah Perry almost certainly, but it was the Backlisted podcast - which he co-hosts - which prompted me to get it (from the library). I enjoy Backlisted a lot - a book podcast not about new releases but talking about old books, usually with the focus on one favourite of a guest. I've bought and/or read and/or made a mental note of a number of books on the basis of their talking about it (and in some cases formed a clear understanding that a book or an author is not for me, despite their positive coverage of it, which is useful too).

I wasn't too keen on the cover, with its collage-type representation of some of the books written about, but I don't respond well to collage-type images in general (though I'm not sure collage is the right word in any case). I liked the hand-lettering of the title, sub-title, author and praise quotes, though. (I'm not sure why my photo of it has come out quite so blue, though.)

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