Bookshots: 'The Year of Reading Dangerously' by Andy Miller

Bookshots: 'The Year of Reading Dangerously' by Andy Miller

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


Title:

The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (and Two Not-So-Great Ones) Saved My Life

Who wrote it?

Andy Miller

If you have not been taking time to read recently, start here. I guarantee 'The Year of Reading Dangerously' will get you reading again.

Plot in a box:

Over the course of a year, Andy Miller tackles fifty previously unread books and gains incredible experience and knowledge in the process.

Invent a new title for this book:

Yes, I Actually Read Them

Read this if you liked:

I recommend this to anyone who has not gotten around to that classic they've been meaning to read (so, everyone).

Meet the book's lead(s):

Andy Miller: Father, Writer, Reader, Likeable Fella.

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

Miller jokes that he's been constantly told that he resembles Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), so he made this one very easy for me.

Setting: Would you want to live there?

Andy and his family live in Kent. At one point, they attend the annual Broadstairs Dickens Festival in the UK. I would absolutely love to check that out!

What was your favorite sentence?

When I was sixteen, I knew where it was at.

The Verdict: 

I wanted to put down The Year of Reading Dangerously very soon after I picked it up. This is usually the sign of a "bad" book, but in this case it is definitely one of the its strengths. Andy Miller's memoir and love letter to reading references books he had not gotten around to reading until embarking on a mission to read fifty titles that made up The List of Betterment. Who knew a simple idea like making a literary to-do list would bring forth such change in a man (and a great book about books, at that)? I wanted to put the book down so I could make my own List of Betterment, which would definitely include some of Miller's picks. The influence was instantaneous. In particular, it got me in the mood to delve into some hefty Tolstoy.

One might assume that all the books on The List of Betterment are dusty classics, but Miller includes a wide array of titles, such as The Essential Silver Surfer, Post Office, and Krautrocksampler—a "highly personal monograph by the former singer of the new-wave group The Teardrop Explodes." Miller is remarkably relatable. I enjoyed passages about his life just as much as his literary commentary. He starts off by saying, "My life is nothing special. It is every bit as dreary as yours." However, as the book progresses, a deep love and affection for not only books, but also his life in Kent with his wife Tina and son Alex, is blaringly evident. Their support in his endeavor is perhaps even more important than the endeavor itself.

If you are a fan of quotations, you'll especially enjoy this book. Quotations tend to appear at the beginning of chapters and are sprinkled heavily throughout. My favorite comes near the end of the book, a quote by Schopenhauer:

We remember our lives a little less well than a novel we once read.

What a sad, but wonderful, case for a memoir like this one. If you have not been taking time to read recently, start here. I guarantee The Year of Reading Dangerously will get you reading again.

Christine J. Schmidt

Review by Christine J. Schmidt

Christine J. Schmidt is a writer originally from New Jersey. After receiving her BFA in Dramatic Writing from SUNY Purchase, she worked at Seattle Repertory Theatre as their artistic literary intern. She recently left Brooklyn, where she was a bookseller and events host at WORD, to reside in Los Angeles. She has previously written for New York Theatre Review, and her plays have been read and produced at theaters in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Washington. Coffee is her favorite thing.

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Comments

Tom1960's picture
Tom1960 from Athens, Georgia is reading Blindness by Jose Saramago December 8, 2014 - 8:10am

I haven't read a memoir in a couple of years. This sounds like a good one, think I'll give it a shot. Thanks for the review.