Wednesday 28 May 2014

The Year of Reading Dangerously - Andy Miller

Another book about reading books here, my second or third this year I think. This one follows Andy Miller, not the author of Pure, the ex-bookseller and half hearted editor, during his 'Year of Betterment'. His challenge is to read fifty of the books that he has had on his to be read heap for quite a while, mainly books that he has convinced himself and others that he has actually read despite this being a lie. Anyone who has worked as a bookseller or librarian will have come up against the dilemma of being asked to discuss books they haven't actually read; often you will have absorbed so much knowledge about these 'classics' that you feel that you have read them even if you've never opened the actual book. Miller's year delves into why he feels as he does about books and reading, and about the way that well loved books can worm their way into your life and into your very soul. I must admit that I never totally trust anyone who says they hate/dislike reading, the only acceptable excuse I can see for this kind of attitude is an actual disability such as profound dyslexia. In that case then I can see that struggling away at something wouldn't be a necessarily enjoyable experience. I am probably being rather unfair here, but anyone else who can't name a single book that they have enjoyed just strikes me as being terrifyingly close minded and in fact rather stupid. It doesn't have to be an epic novel, like Andy Miller, I fully recognise the power and worth of light fluff. There is a place for Dan Brown, even a place for EL James. I might mock the hideous, poorly written nonsense that is Fifty Shades but if someone is reading that then at least they are connecting with the outside world. I loved Miller's take on the role of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code book in his 'Year of Betterment' and it was genuinely heartening to see a bit of mass market fluff like DVC making it's way into his list.
 This book manages to follow Miller's attempts to reignite his love of reading in an entertaining and quirky way, providing a series of reviews for the books as well as a wonderful journey into a lifetime of loving books. There are some quite delightful personal memories of reading and using libraries as a child and well as very funny insights into the life of a London bookseller in the 1990s. For any 'bookish' people out there, this is a lovely read; and I would go so far as making it compulsory reading for booksellers everywhere.

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