Skip to main content

Review: How Reading Changed My Life, by Anna Quindlen


Pages: 84
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.

Comments

Andi said…
I read this one years ago, too, and forgot all about it!!!! I need a re-read. Hope I haven't given it away. Ack!
Lisa said…
This is the first book I read that talked about the joy of reading, the addiction to reading, and I felt this immediate sense of connection, that I wasn't the only one who feels that way.

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is an old dotard, her third locks her up in the house for days and won't let her out; and the last is a fop who a…

Review: This Rough Magic, by Mary Stewart

Pages: 254Original date of publication: 1964My edition: 1964 (William Morrow)Why I decided to read: it was 90 degrees outside at the time and I decided it was time to read another book by a favorite authorHow I acquired my copy: from Susanna Kearsley, December 2009Sometimes, whether or not I decide to read a book depends on the weather. Mary Stewart’s books are best read on either very hot or very cold days; and since it was 90 degrees out one weekend a couple of weeks ago, I decided that this one would be perfect. And it was.This Rough Magic takes its title from The Tempest, a play from which this novel takes off. Lucy Waring is a struggling actress who comes to visit her sister on Corfu. One of her neighbors is a renowned actor who’s taken a bit of a sabbatical and his son, a musician with whom Lucy comes to blows at first. This Rough Magic is vintage Mary Stewart, with a murder or two, a mystery, romance, suspense, and lots of magic thrown in. Lucy is your typical Mary Stewart hero…

Review: Joy in the Morning, by Betty Smith

Pages: 294
Original date of publication: 1963
My edition: 2010 (Harper Perennial)
Why I decided to read:
How I acquired my copy: Barnes and Noble, Phoenix, January 2011


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of my all-time favorite books and I’ve read it, oh, half a dozen times, so I was interested to see how Joy in the Morning would compare.

Set in the late 1920s, Joy in the Morning begins when Annie, aged 18, comes to a small Midwestern college town where her fiancĂ©e, Carl, is in law school. The novel opens with their marriage in the county courthouse, and follows the couple through their first year or so of marriage. It’s a struggle, because Carl and Annie are basically children themselves, for all the ways in which Carl tries to appear more adult-like.

Annie is endearing; she’s ignorant but a voracious reader, reading everything from Babbitt to War and Peace. Betty Smith’s novels are pretty autobiographical; Joy in the Morning is (unofficially) a kind of sequel to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn—cert…