Original date of publication: 1998
My edition: 1998 (Ballantine)
Why I decided to read: Re-discovered this one while browsing my bookshelves one afternoon
How I acquired my copy: Borders
…there are letters from readers to attend to, like the one froma girl who had been given one of my books by her mother and began her letter, ‘I guess I am what some would call a bookworm.’ ‘So am I,’ I wrote back.
How Reading Changed My Life is a series of short essays by Anna Quindlen about the impact that reading has had on her life. I read this a number of years ago and decided to pick it up again as a way to pass the time one afternoon. Each essay is headed by a quotation; and the author discusses everything from the books she read as a child to the impact on electronic readers on the public (and this book was published in 1998!).
What I enjoy about Quindlen’s writing is that her style is so lyrical. She writes about books as though they’re her best friends (which, if you’re a reader, they are!). The childhood books she mentions make me want to go back and re-read them, especially something like Girl of the Limberlost or Charlotte’s Web. I think it’s also interesting what she has to say about girls in children’s books being readers; while books aimed towards boys focus on adventure stories, books for girls focus on friendship and reading (think Little Women, or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn). It’s definitely true that girls are readers more than boys, and children’s fiction certainly reflects that.
Quindlen also covers the history of the printed book, the invention of the book group, so pervasive amongst women everywhere in America, and what makes a book a Great Book (totally subjective to every reader!). Quindlen talks about the power that books have, as a means of escape from the reality of our daily lives. I know that was definitely true for me growing up as a socially awkward girl, and true even today as a socially awkward adult. This short book is definitely one to read, even if to reaffirm what we already know and love about reading and books.