Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Second Common Reader” as Want to Read:
The Second Common Reader
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Second Common Reader

4.35  ·  Rating Details  ·  222 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
Woolf’s first and most popular volume of essays. This collection has more than twenty-five selections, including such important statements as “Modern Fiction” and “The Modern Essay.” Edited and with an Introduction by Andrew McNeillie; Index.
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1932)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Second Common Reader, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Second Common Reader

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 898)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Last year I came across The Common Reader Vol. I at a Kinokuniya Bookstore in Bangkok and ordered Vol. II immediately. In fact, these famed two volumes have been published in various editions since 1932 and I've tried to buy them for a long time. Enticed by the simple title, I've since decided to read them all as soon as I can own them. I think her "How Should One Read a Book?" is definitely worth reading and applying into our reading since we can learn a lot from its 13 pages and, definitely, f ...more
Apr 02, 2009 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: criticism, essays
An ideal critic, humane and intimate reader. I like that these essays read like a lifelong reading journal; we get the moody responsiveness, the tactility of encounter. This book immediately conjures Virginia Stephen, the young girl educating herself in her father's library.
Oct 06, 2013 Ellen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In her second tour de force in literary criticism, Woolf's collection of book reviews and essays upon authors and their failures and successes astounds the reader with her perceptive and sensitive reading of books and clear understanding of authors' personalities, ambitions, and histories. Each essay is moving in its own way, and as I read through the book I sometimes felt overwhelmed by Woolf's phrasing and poetic style. I could go on for pages, citing incidences of essays that moved me to tear ...more
Răzvan Molea
Woolf subliniază problema prejudecăților pe care majoritatea cititorilor le au față de cărți; față de poezie – să fie falsă, față de autobiografii – să fie măgulitoare, față de proză – să fie adevărată (sau cel puțin să pară?), față de cărțile de istorie – să ne satisfacă vanitatea și simțul patriotic. Întotdeauna avem așteptări, de multe ori nejustificate, care strică toată experiența.

Soluția, susține Woolf, este să înlături bagajul de idei preconcepute și să accepți exact ceea ce are de oferit
Jun 01, 2014 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
I haven't been reading a lot of essays recently, and typically what I would read in that vein these days are more the longer form newspaper or magazine articles that usually look at contemporary events and topics. The closest to The Common Readers in what I usually read would be the essays in the London Review of Books, my subscription to which I let lapse primarily due to a lack of time. However, reading the essays in particular in Volume II has sparked a renewed interest for me in that form of ...more
David Gross
I hadn't read any Virginia Woolf until earlier this year, when I enjoyed The Lighthouse. That encouraged me to pick up this paperback at a library booksale. One of the things that I found very attractive about The Lighthouse also applies to this book of critical essays: even when Woolf does not like a character (or an author), she cares about him or her and tries to faithfully and patiently carve for herself the mask that character (or author) looks through to see and make sense of the world, th ...more
The title is self-explanatory. Not as engaging as the first volume. Three favorite essays from this book are "Aurora Leigh", a complete, not to say exhaustive, treatment of Elizabeth Browning's poem; "The Novels of Thomas Hardy", and "How Should One Read a Book?"
An interesting technique employed here: a book or the work of a particular author will be presented in a distinctly negative way, with appropriate evidence. Ms. Woolf then will reverse her position totally, and point out precisely why t
Sherwood Smith
Here's the thing about Woolf. Even if you disagree with her (as I do over Chesterfield, for example), you can hold a mental conversation with her, and you sense that she will listen sympathetically. She's rarely snide, and never petty in these essays; she doesn't always have all the facts, and sometimes betrays the limitations of her time, but who doesn't?

One essay over breakfast is a wonderful way to begin the day.
This time, my favorites were the essays on Arcadia and on Fanny Burney. Woolf brilliant captures the mingled fascination and dismay of picking up Sidney's hefty, intricate, and purpley-prosed romance. The Burney essay sympathetically highlight's Burney's inventive love of words, and the last anecdote reads like a short story.
A collection of excellent, relatively short essays on various literary topics by Virginia Woolf. I'm surprised I haven't heard as much about Woolf's essays, because they're all pretty great. My personal favorites were her anaylsis of Thomas Hardy's novels, and her answer to the question, "Why read a book?"
incipit mania

È molto divertente immaginare di poter tornare indietro ...
Jessica marked it as to-read
Aug 21, 2016
Sebastian rated it liked it
Aug 21, 2016
Svenja (Apfelmädchen)
Svenja (Apfelmädchen) marked it as to-read
Aug 16, 2016
Gabriella Furik
Gabriella Furik marked it as to-read
Aug 14, 2016
Timothy Deer
Timothy Deer marked it as to-read
Aug 13, 2016
Danielle P
Danielle P marked it as to-read
Aug 11, 2016
Robert marked it as to-read
Aug 09, 2016
Sam marked it as to-read
Aug 08, 2016
Júlia Ribeiro
Júlia Ribeiro marked it as to-read
Aug 07, 2016
Paula marked it as to-read
Aug 05, 2016
Nicola marked it as to-read
Aug 08, 2016
Andreea marked it as to-read
Aug 03, 2016
Emmanuel Nyberg
Emmanuel Nyberg marked it as to-read
Aug 03, 2016
Kateřina marked it as to-read
Aug 02, 2016
Apollo marked it as to-read
Aug 09, 2016 marked it as to-read
Jul 27, 2016
Ccmoore rated it it was amazing
Jul 26, 2016
Stunning Mess
Stunning Mess marked it as to-read
Jul 23, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 29 30 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism
  • Axel's Castle: A Study of the Imaginative Literature of 1870-1930
  • Mrs. Woolf and the Servants: An Intimate History of Domestic Life in Bloomsbury
  • Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life
  • The Night Is Large: Collected Essays, 1938-1995
  • A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists From Brontë to Lessing
  • Less Than One: Selected Essays
  • The Novel: A Biography
  • Virginia Woolf
  • Lectures on Literature
  • Virginia Woolf: A Writer's Life
  • In Front of Your Nose: 1945-1950 (The Collected Essays, Journalism & Letters, Vol. 4)
  • The Art of the Novel
  • Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism
  • Reading Myself and Others
  • A Plea for Eros: Essays
  • The Dyer's Hand
  • The Hunter Gracchus: And Other Papers on Literature and Art
(Adeline) Virginia Woolf was an English novelist and essayist regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century.

During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a member of the Bloomsbury Group. Her most famous works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and Orlando (1928), and the book-length es
More about Virginia Woolf...

Share This Book

“The only advice, indeed, that one person can give another about reading is to take no advice, to follow your own instincts, to use your own reason, to come to your own conclusions. If this is agreed between us, then I feel at liberty to put forward a few ideas and suggestions because you will not allow them to fetter that independence which is the most important quality that a reader can possess. After all, what laws can be laid down about books? The battle of Waterloo was certainly fought on a certain day; but is Hamlet a better play than Lear? Nobody can say. Each must decide that question for himself. To admit authorities, however heavily furred and gowned, into our libraries and let them tell us how to read, what to read, what value to place upon what we read, is to destroy the spirit of freedom which is the breath of those sanctuaries. Everywhere else we may be bound by laws and conventions-there we have none.” 87 likes
“Few people ask from books what books can give us. Most commonly we come to books with blurred and divided minds, asking of fiction that it shall be true, of poetry that it shall be false, of biography that it shall be flattering, of history that it shall enforce our own prejudices. If we could banish all such preconceptions when we read, that would be an admirable beginning.” 61 likes
More quotes…