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

3.36  ·  Rating Details ·  2,379 Ratings  ·  530 Reviews
A working father whose life no longer feels like his own discovers the transforming powers of great (and downright terrible) literature in this laugh-out-loud memoir.

Andy Miller had a job he quite liked, a family he loved, and no time at all for reading. Or so he kept telling himself. But, no matter how busy or tired he was, something kept niggling at him. Books. Books he'
Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 9th 2014 by Harper Perennial (first published April 1st 2012)
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Sabrina Martin Good question. I don't think it has. I've always been a voracious reader. As I get older, I am more willing to give up on a book that doesn't interest…moreGood question. I don't think it has. I've always been a voracious reader. As I get older, I am more willing to give up on a book that doesn't interest me. I've also enjoyed going back and reading some books I loved as a child.
Robert Riley Under 300 pages, depending on whether you count epilogue and appendices.

Community Reviews

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Paul Bryant
Dec 09, 2015 Paul Bryant rated it liked it
This is not in any way a discussion of the novels Andy read, this is wiffling and wittering about the novels Andy read. Also, they didn't save his life. I mean, he wasn't ill or dangling from somewhere high. He wasn't in intensive care & someone rushed in a copy of Beloved. But sometimes it's true that he gets hold of a funny idea – like that there are many strong points of similarity between The Da Vince Code and Moby Dick :
- Quest – one for a whale, one for a grail
- Infodumps by the kilog
Debbie Kinsey
I don’t lie to other people about what books I’ve read / not read. It’s part of my belief that you should just read what you want to read. If someone asked me if I’ve read Midnight’s Children I would say no. But if one of those ‘how many have you read?’ quizzes asks me (a quiz that no one but me will see), I’d say ‘yes’ because I’ve read a page. It’s the most pointless of all the lies because it’s only to myself. Andy Miller is an editor and writer who used to regularly lie about books he’d ...more
It is no secret that I am a fan of books about books; I especially enjoy a bookish memoir. The idea of reading and learning about someone’s bookish life is fascinating to me. Let’s be honest, I blog about books because I think I have an interesting bookish journey to talk about and I want to capture that for posterity sake. I would love to learn how to write a bookish memoir, so I read anything I can get my hands on. I have even written a post asking for recommendations for books about books and ...more
Rebecca Foster
“What makes a great book? That depends both on the book and the operator...we must acknowledge that greatness recalibrates itself from person to person and book to book.” Miller’s bibliomemoir includes a very odd selection of books, some of them obviously canonical Great Books, but also a lot of male, cult books (one on Kraut rock, Bukowski, etc.) or lefty stuff. I didn’t really have enough in common with him in terms of literary taste to sustain my interest.

However, I loved his section on Iris
Mar 10, 2015 Holly rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2015-reads
One star because I found the prose routine while the tone was often glib. Miller is pretentious but without the erudition to back up the pretentiousness. His take on bookclubs was mildly interesting, although his stance as the only real reader in the group was offputting (the three psychotherapists in the group didn't like/understand his book choice). With regard to the content: Miller didn't explore his reading process deeply enough to satisfy me; and he appeared to be a lazy reader (how can ...more
Bianca Winter
Jun 05, 2014 Bianca Winter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Year of Reading Dangerously: the philistines among you will ask 'what's so dangerous about reading anyway?' Andy Miller's book provides an irrefutable answer.

The Year of Reading Dangerously is about what happened to Andy Miller after he decided to read for 'betterment'. It's his story – a story encompassing an early love of libraries, a professional relationship with the book industry, a few disastrous encounters with Douglas Adams and a seemingly endless string of lies about books.
I say it
Oct 02, 2015 Emma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love to read. I'm betting you do too, or you wouldn't be here. Second only to the pleasure of reading for yourself, is reading what somebody else thinks about reading. The foundation of Goodreads is precisely this premise, so i know i'm not alone in this. Which is why books like these always pique my interest. A whole book telling me what someone thinks about other books. Brilliant.

Despite the rather overdramatic and irrelevant title, this is quite a funny book. It is part autobiography, part
Diane Challenor
I've added this one to my absolute favourites. I found the book interesting, entertaining and inspiring. I listened to it via an audiobook and enjoyed it so much that I've purchased the Print version so I can dip into it whenever I want. Any one who loves books about books must read this one. I wrote more about it and my List of Betterment on my website ARTUCCINO
Ilze Folkmane
Aug 27, 2015 Ilze Folkmane rated it did not like it
A working father whose life no longer feels like his own discovers the transforming powers of great (and downright terrible) literature in this laugh-out-loud memoir.

It is a truth university acknowledged that advertising is a tricky thing, perhaps especially when it comes to selling books. Publishers have to entice readers to buy their books, but at the same time they have to retain some semblance of honesty. The sentence above illustrates how such tricky advertising can be done. On some level i
Bernard O'Keeffe
I really enjoyed this. It reminds me of the great game in David Lodge's brilliant comic novel 'Changing Places' - Humiliation. It's a game played by English Literature academics - you name a work of literature you haven't read and get a point for everyone else who has.It's ages since I read it but I do remember an eminent professor getting into trouble when, in an attempt to win a game of Humiliation, he owns up to never having read 'Hamlet'. We all have great books that we have yet to read and ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Mar 16, 2016 Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance rated it really liked it
First, let’s make a few things clear: Andy Miller does not read dangerously. He does not save his life by reading. And he only reads fifty great books (and ONE not-so-great one).

Now that the lies in the title are set aside, I can tell you what this book really is: Andy Miller is a funny guy and you will love his yearlong trip through fifty classics. (Though, for truth-in-advertising reasons, I feel compelled to warn you that I completely disagreed with his opinions on every book: War and Peace
Jun 12, 2015 Antonia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Great title! Even if it doesn’t really fit the content. It’s pretty hard to find anything dangerous here. I didn’t expect literary criticism, but did expect more interesting observations. And I don’t appreciate carping about the Internet and the “blockheads” (us) who deign to review books without . . . what? Without being professional critics with longstanding careers in “old media” — like the author, I presume.

I do love books about books, but my interest in this one waxed and waned. Sometimes,
Jun 27, 2016 Ran rated it really liked it
This book was actually a gem - I put it on my Kindle because it was available through Overdrive and the title made me snicker a bit. But mostly because it was available to read now and I was going to Europe for two weeks. I need materials that would travel light with me sans wi-fi. Hence, Kindle.

And yet, if I told you I thoroughly enjoyed reading a book about an editor reading books, you'd be completely within your rights to make questionable faces at me. It's really meta, or Inception. A librar
غيث حسن
طالما كنا نهرب من قراءة بعض الأعمال الهامة دون أسبابا واضحة أو منطقية وأحيانا أخرى تضعنا الظروف في مواقف محرجة إذ من المستحيل أن ننكر قراءة عمل مهم كالجريمة والعقاب ونحن لم نقرأ صفحة منه أصلا حفاظا على البرستيج، لقد استمتعت بقراءة هذا الكتاب المجنون، توقفت أحيانا مستسلما لنوبات الضحك، وأحيانا كثيرة كنت أظنه يعنيني فأخجل من نفسي.
اعجبتني فكرة إنشاء قائمة من كتابا اطلق عليها الكاتب بقائمة الإصلاح، كتب من أجمل ما خطة الإنسان في مختلف العصور، إلا أنه -الكاتب- كان ثرثاراً في مواضع عدة تسببت بتصدع ال
Jan 30, 2015 Kazen rated it did not like it
From the title and cover copy you'd think Andy Miller was a man in crisis that was saved from the brink by great literature, or maybe a former reader that found himself enlightened and his life enriched by a year with the classics.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Miller is a man of letters through and through, a reader born into a family of readers. He went to college for literature, worked for years at a bookshop, and eventually became an editor for a London publishing house. Books are,
Oct 02, 2015 Randee rated it really liked it
I enjoy books about books and will read anyone's book list and/or comments about the books they've read or want to read. It doesn't matter if I agree with them or not. I wouldn't necessarily say his list of 'betterment books' would be ones that I would include on my own list, but I found it interesting on many different levels.

Favorite quote:

"No matter what might be said, access to the artistic universe is more or less entirely the preserve of those who are a little fed up with the world." Micha
Jun 08, 2014 Damaskcat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting slice of autobiography as much as it is about the fifty great books which saved the author's life and caused him to rethink what he was doing with that same life. I found most of the rock music references incomprehensible so if you're not a music fan there are parts of the book you may want to skip.

I did find the author's comments on the books of interest and I may well read some of the books he did. I keep stumbling across George Eliot in the books I read and I am really
Chris Lilly
May 25, 2014 Chris Lilly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit-crit
I found this book charming, amusing, thoughtful. and inspirational. It's about reading as a good and enriching thing, not as a competition or a badge of intellectual superiority, and I really really liked it. The books he admired I want to check out, the books he despised I want to check out too, to discover why they affected him so strongly. It's about books and about reading and being a reader, it's ridiculously easy to read, and I think it's just a little bit profound. Gold standard five star ...more
Jan 02, 2015 Lily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Andy Miller’s Year of Reading Dangerously is more like a memoir than a book of literary criticism. I was disappointed by Miller’s emphasis on himself, but others might enjoy the details of his daily life, childhood, and youth. To his benefit, Miller avoids being boring even though his life is fairly typical. I even found myself won over in the end despite his flaws.


•In most of the book he comes across as a petulant complainer.

•It’s clear that his literary and musical taste was arrested i
Dec 30, 2014 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
The premise, in a nutshell: Andy Miller has read just one book for fun in the last three years, and that book was The Da Vinci Code. He wants to devote more time to reading great literature, so he sets off to read fifty titles in a year—his “List of Betterment.” This simple act “was to transform his life completely,” as the back of the cover states in a somewhat melodramatic fashion.

As readers, we’re all so different. Andy Miller is not the same kind of reader I am, though we have a lot in commo
Katy Noyes
Jul 17, 2015 Katy Noyes rated it it was amazing
I found this highly entertaining, a perfect read for book enthusiasts, and I laughed out loud on the train more than once at Andy's turn of phrase (and footnotes).

I could relate to a lot of what he said (as the parents of a young child who doesn't leave me as much time as I would like to read) and I enjoyed a trip through his self-imposed challenge to read 50 books he'd always wanted to read in a year (with the assistance of a very patient spouse!). Most of them I had read or was familiar with,
Dec 22, 2015 April rated it it was ok
Ok -- so I love reading books about books, reading, etc.

But this book? No. Just no.

I was about 85% through it or so and was really struggling, and then thought to myself, Hey, I'm just going to push through the last 15% because then I can write a "WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST READ" review!

And no joke, that's what got me through the last bit.

This is not a book about how books saved Andy's life.

Books didn't save Andy's life in any real sense of the word. I was in the last 10 pages or so and was wonder
Oct 11, 2014 Stephen rated it liked it
I read this book before you did! "The Year of Reading Dangerously" was given to me at no cost by the publisher in uncorrected proof form in return for my agreement to write an unbiased and objective review which is what you are, at this moment, reading. This is a new and interesting experience for me as I have never written a book review that was unbiased and objective in my life. The subtitle of Andy Miller's book discloses its premise: "How fifty great books (and two not-so-great ones) saved ...more
Kristy Miller
Feb 02, 2016 Kristy Miller rated it really liked it
Andy Miller, an editor for a publishing company in London, spends his time making quick judgements on books at work, but has lost his connection with them in his personal life. So he creates The List Of Betterment; classics and cult novels that he hadn't read, though he occasionally claimed he had. The list starts with 12, but by the end of the book he's read over 50 books. This memoir/lit crit talks about finding time for reading with the responsibilities of family and work, relearning to make ...more
There are a few differences between me and Andy Miller:
1. His life is largely based south of the Thames, mine is a mirror to the North
2. Whilst he works in publishing, I work in digital media. Therefore I more regularly hear people declaring that no one today reads books at all rather than scoffing that people haven't read such-and-such.
3. I am a good decade younger than him and am yet to have a child.
But like Moby Dick and The Da Vinci Code I could not help but see my own life and thoughts jump
May 24, 2014 Becky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art, in-my-house
Another book about reading books here, my second 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 dilema of ...more
Andy Miller's memoir about his reading challenge - the 'List of Betterment', as he calls it - is fairly humourous & even insightful in terms of giving a reader's perspective towards great literature. But I cannot give this more than 3 & a half stars, despite an excellent epilogue featuring his encounters with Douglas Adams.

For those who love to read books about books.

P. S. Thank you Mr. Miller (you bloody sod) for inspiring this inexplicable desire to get my hands on a copy of "Twenty Th
Meh -- I rate the book lists a 4, but the book a 3. I've killed every book club I've joined because I want to talk about the book!! Miller writes a book about reading books and seldom really talks about his responses to the book. If this was a Reading Log, I'd've taken point off for NOT proving to me that he read the books and internalized something of value.

This is a memoir with some books thrown in. I wanted a discussion of books.

I DO like his lists, and will share them. Some of his choices ar
Joan Colby
May 31, 2016 Joan Colby rated it really liked it
Amusingly written with penetrating insights as Miller embarks on a plan to read all those books he, like many educated people, claims to have read or even convinced himself that he has read. The results are entertaining and enlightening. Miller includes a good deal of biographical material which explains his fascination with books and the book concludes with lists of the books he has read and those he hopes to read.
Jul 12, 2015 Jess rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. A love letter to the lost art of reading (and just not collecting books that are never opened so you feel clever). Since starting this book, I've restarted some of the others on my to-read pile and I'm determined to make the time to read again!
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  • Howards End Is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home
  • Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting and Living with Books
  • One for the Books
  • The Library Book
  • By the Book: A Reader's Guide to Life
  • Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World
  • Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books
  • A Life with Books
  • Read This Next: 500 of the Best Books You'll Ever Read
  • I Murdered My Library
  • The Shelf: From LEQ to LES: Adventures in Extreme Reading
  • A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict
  • Rereadings: Seventeen writers revisit books they love
  • A Reading Diary: A Passionate Reader's Reflections on a Year of Books
  • So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading
  • A Passion for Books: A Book Lover's Treasury of Stories, Essays, Humor, Love and Lists on Collecting, Reading, Borrowing, Lending, Caring for, and Appreciating Books
  • Why I Read: The Serious Pleasure of Books
  • The Book of Lost Books: An Incomplete History of All the Great Books You'll Never Read

I believe books represent the best that human beings are capable of; if anything, books are superior to the human beings who create them. I hope that eventually books will become sentient and rise up like some robot army to eliminate their frail human masters. I see the e-book as the crucial first step toward that goal.

I am the author of the following:

* The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty G
More about Andy Miller...

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“It would be a good thing to buy books if one could also buy the time to read them; but one usually confuses the purchase of books with the acquisition of their contents.” 12 likes
“In short, this was a period in which the phrase ‘you’re never alone with a good book’ started to sound less like a promise and more like a threat.” 4 likes
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