Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books” as Want to Read:
Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  1,828 ratings  ·  343 reviews
“It’s not that I don’t like people,” writes Maureen Corrigan in her introduction to Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading. “It’s just that there always comes a moment when I’m in the company of others—even my nearest and dearest—when I’d rather be reading a book.” In this delightful memoir, Corrigan reveals which books and authors have shaped her own life—from classic works of Engli ...more
Paperback, 201 pages
Published December 2006 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2005)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

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

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.46  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,828 ratings  ·  343 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books
Mar 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
As a true book lover, I was drawn to this book by its title.

However, I found the book a little disjointed and less about the joy of reading books in general, less about the transportive effect of books, and more a literary analysis of various books thrown in amongst various autobiographical bits of the author's life.

Also, I have a bit of a "pebble in my shoe" issue after reading this book. I very much dislike it when authors throw in certain "facts" to support an argument but don't provide you
I discovered a kindred spirit in Maureen Corrigan. A Georgetown professor and book reviewer for NPR’s “Fresh Air,” she is lucky enough to make a living by reading and then writing (and talking) about what she’s read. The very first lines of her book convinced me that I’d found a like-minded soul: “It’s not that I don’t like people. It’s just that when I’m in the company of others – even my nearest and dearest – there always comes a moment when I’d rather be reading a book.” I couldn’t agree more ...more
Mar 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
So let's start off with a couple of things. First off, I love NPR. I love Fresh Air. I love NPR. Maureen Corrigan being the book reviewer for NPR= extreme jealously/worship. Second off, I adore books about books. I could read books about books all day forever and ever. Ok now that we have that established...forward march!

I really did enjoy this memoir, I loved how she incorporated books into nearly everything and I was laughing out loud more than a few times just out of sheer disbelief. I have h
Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I love this book.
I love this book even though it has complicated my life by adding dozens and dozens of books to the list of books I will never have time to read, dammit.

** Maureen Corrigan is related to Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan.
** She once lived a part-time approximation of Harriet Vane in Gaudy Night.
** Her literary loves include mysteries with hard-boiled detectives ("the ultimate independent contractors").
** As a child, she read many Catholic "martyr stories" that taught a "pedagogical t
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I think one reason I enjoy reading is for the opportunity to get inside another human being’s head, to connect mentally with that person’s thoughts, even if that person lived centuries ago. It’s a sort of magic, isn’t it? Maureen Corrigan understands that magic. The opening line of this book is: “It’s not that I don’t like people. It’s just that when I’m in the company of others---even my nearest and dearest---there always comes a moment when I’d rather be reading a book.” Spoken like a true boo ...more
Jun 01, 2007 rated it did not like it
I was really excited to read this book, but I couldn't get through all of it. I liked the introduction, but then the meat of the book reminded me (in a bad way) of my brief stint at an English major. I didn't like being tricked into reading literary criticism!
Overall, I found this book moderately enjoyable, but for me the most transformative aspect of it was Corrigan's discussion of her own newly minted micro-genre, the "female extreme-adventure novel."

This was an "Aha!" moment for me-- that throughout the history of novel writing, while men and male protagonists have been out exploring the physical landscape and challenging their physical limits, women and female protagonists have been exploring an inner landscape as jagged and formidable as any mo
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Maureen Corrigan, noted book critic from NPR's "Fresh Air," has written a memoir for true book lovers who do not see their reading life as separate from real life. Growing up Irish-Catholic in New York, the daughter of a World War II Navy vet (himself a huge reader), Corrigan recounts her life in terms of the books she read along the way, studying literature at Fordham and Penn, teaching at Georgetown, and eventually marrying another passionate reader and adopting a Chinese girl. Particularly co ...more
Scott Taylor
Jul 16, 2011 rated it liked it
This book is what happens when a book reviewer turns her critical eye to her own existence. Any avid reader should appreciate the importance of books in one's own life and how they shape those who read. Corrigan says, apologetically, that we read to find authenticity, a scrap of something that will improve our understanding of ourselves. Perhaps. She says that reading a book can be a dangerous thing sometimes. True.

Peppered with examples from books she has read, this is a kind of memoir that ev
Maureen Corrigan has spent her life doing what she loves: reading and interpreting fiction as a college professor, author, and newspaper/radio critic. Her semi-autobiography uses a lifetime's reading to explore not only her own life and those of her parents, but also the role of women in Western culture, popular vs. canonical literature, and what it means to be an American. She is most effective when describing her admiration for hard-boiled detective fiction and when drawing parallels between t ...more
Kaethe Douglas
Jun 05, 2020 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Corrigan and I don't overlap much in our tastes. I don't think I've ever described a book as "luminous" including The History of Luminous Motion. That's rather more of a disincentive to me. So I'm going to give up and give it back to the library.

2020 June 06
Aug 19, 2008 rated it did not like it
Don't be fooled -- this isn't a memoir. But it's not lit theory either... it's mostly the wishy washy area in between. Here Maureen Corrigan spoils plot after plot, stringing together a series of dubiously connected book reviews. She makes excuses at various points of the book for her "lack of methodology" and lack of direction, which are the downfall of this book. She tries to read feminist themes into a variety of crappy fiction, which might be admirable if she didn't make so many gendered com ...more
Sue Dix
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love books about books or about reading. Maureen Corrigan's descriptions of herself as a reader felt so familiar to me. This book was written twelve years ago, but the feel of the book is fresh and present and relevant. It is a quiet book but well worth taking ones time to savor.
May 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 18tbr
A professor of literature/NPR book reviewer discusses her readerly reflections and the intersections between her lifelong habit of reading and life experiences. For instance, one chapter discusses books she categorizes as “women extreme adventure stories” (like Jane Eyre and Villette), which are “heavy on anxious waiting and endurance” which leads to the story of the long, complicated process she and her husband went through to adopt a child from China. In another chapter, the author brings a fr ...more
Oh, this one was a hard one to rank. It was a three when I first picked it up, a two when I first put it down, a four when I picked it up again years later, and a three when I put it back down a second time. I was determined to knock off a lot of low-hanging almost-finished fruit from my TBR pile this weekend, and I finally read the last thirty pages. So, hey, let's average this out to a three? Ish?

This is one of those books that tragically reinforces my extreme reluctance to get rid of books.
Mary La douceur
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Deja vu! From her 1960's parochial school upbringing to her love of books and description of the books piled all over her house, I felt instantly at home with Maureen.

Maureen weaves a narrative of her life thus far and enthusiastically delves into the books that were companions throughout. She describes the Karen books which I also had to read in school. Tom Dooley which my brother had in his room and she also gets into many great classics of literature as well as explaining her love of detectiv
Sep 10, 2011 rated it did not like it
exciting title, tedious book. ugh. author works out her issues with catholic upbringing and lack-of-strong-female-role-models-in-books-by-males. she has two quotes that work against her-- "...reading good books doesn't necessarily make one a good person-- or a smarter, funnier, or more cultivated person." and "great books untouchables ... have always struck me as purring a bit too loudly over the beauty of their own sentence structure. the tone of a lot of academic literary theory repels me..." ...more
Jul 28, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There is a longer review at my blog.

But in short, I did not like this, and I was surprised, because it seemed so much the sort of thing I would enjoy. When Corrigan talks about books as a professional, suggesting alternate readings, she is marvelous -- but when she goes into memoir I found her quite dreary.
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you need practice skimming a book, try this one.

Once again, here’s a title that tantalizes more than what the book delivers. This memoir did not hold my attention as the author ruminated though chapters discussing books about catholic martyrs and women’s extreme adventures.

But I did enjoy Maureen Corrigan’s asides about her life as an obsessive reader who receives fifty books a week from publishers. She lives a bookish life in a nonliterary era, Corrigan writes in her book, published thirte
Sep 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in theories about literature
Recommended to Bookguide by: Grada (BoekenTrol)
Shelves: usa, books, 2000-2009
When I started reading the introduction about how she had loved reading from an early age, etc., etc., etc., I found it didn’t keep my attention. But once Corrigan started expounding on her theories about female extreme-adventure tales, using one of my favourites, Jane Eyre, as one of her main examples, I was hooked. It then made it natural to talk about her own female extreme-adventure with infertility and adoption, without turning it into a blow-by-blow agony autobiography (the correct word es ...more
So... I know I've read other books like this one -- the history of a reader, why that person is a reader, what books that person has read, how certain books have influenced that person's life, how certain books have paralleled that person's life, or been completely different from that person's life -- and I've enjoyed them. But for some reason, I just didn't find this one as enjoyable. I don't know if there's something else going on in my head right now so I couldn't enjoy reading it, or if I've ...more
John Benson
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
I thought I would enjoy this book more. I read a lot, like Maureen Corrigan's book reviews on NPR, and I thought I might find more books that I wanted to read. I liked the memoir part of the book, but found the book sections hard to read. The book sections seemed like they were written for academic journals rather than as part of a mass market memoir. I found that if I had read the book, these sections were mildly interesting; but most of the books were not ones I had read, and the writing did n ...more
Jul 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Corrigan sent me scurrying to the library with this one: so many great book recommendations! Her chapter on women's adventure stories is a brilliant stand-alone essay. And I wish it HAD stood alone, because her following chapter was all about the deservedly little-known Catholic guilt novels of her youth. A mixed bag, but an enjoyable one for book nerds like me.
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars.
Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love listening to Maureen Corrigan, whether on a CD or NPR or in person at one of her speaking engagements.
Apr 08, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book was putting me to sleep. Couldn’t do it. Moving on...
Jul 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
As soon as I read the first sentence in the author's introduction I knew I was hooked: "It's not that I don't like people. It's just that when I'm in the company of others - even my nearest and dearest - there always comes moment when I'd rather be reading a book." My sentiments exactly! So I figured Maureen Corrigan and I must have a lot in common – despite the fact that she’s the book critic for NPR’s Fresh Air and the only book reviews I ever publish are the ones that show up here on Goodread ...more
Oct 13, 2009 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Gwen by: Brigitte Weeks Washington Post 10/2/05
Shelves: non-fiction
From Brigitte Weeks' review in The Washington Post 10/2/05:

[Maureen Corrigan:]'s enthusiasm for the novels of Susan Isaacs reflects her winning openness to popular fiction. She calls Isaacs "Jane Austen with a schmear" and judges her "one of our great underappreciated contemporary writers." I am delighted to imagine all the listeners of "Fresh Air" enjoying Isaacs's Shining Through, one of Corrigan's favorites, starring a legal secretary from Queens who finds herself in Nazi Germany as an agent
Jan 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of literary criticism
Being a fan of Maureen Corrigan's NPR book reviews, I "heard" most of this book in my head in the author's distinctive timbre. The material is a healthy blend of Corrigan's personal relationship with books, academic thoughts about non-academic genres, and reflections on her personality and where it has led her for good and for bad.

Although I found her detailed analysis of women's extreme-adventure stories and hard-boiled detective novels intriguing, her investigation of Catholic families as a to
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a sucker for books about books. I'm a long-time fan of Maureen Corrigan's Fresh Air book reviews and when I found out she was an author in her own right (duh - late to the table there), I high-tailed it to the library. She didn't disappoint. In this book, which is part memoir, part literary criticism for the masses, Corrigan examines her life in books - those that meant the most to her during different parts of her life, including her grad school years, her relationship with her husband as ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading
  • The Lodger Shakespeare: His Life on Silver Street
  • How to Pronounce Knife
  • Ridgerunner
  • Eat a Peach
  • The Ministry for the Future
  • Here the Dark: A Novella and Stories
  • Polar Vortex
  • The Outlander
  • Unplugged
  • Books for Living
  • Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile
  • The Arsonist
  • Q's Legacy: A Delightful Account of a Lifelong Love Affair with Books
  • Found (Bear and Bunny)
  • Snuggle Puppy! (Boynton on Board)
  • Hibernation Station
  • Milk & Cookies
See similar books…
Maureen Corrigan (Born July 30, 1955) is an American journalist, author and literary critic. She writes for the "Book World" section of The Washington Post, and is a book critic on the NPR radio program Fresh Air. In 2005, she published a literary memoir, Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books.

Corrigan holds a B.A. from Fordham University as well as an M.A. and Ph.D from t

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
6 likes · 3 comments
“It's not that I don't like people. It's just that when I'm in the company of others - even my nearest and dearest - there always comes a moment when I'd rather be reading a book.” 1913 likes
“I think, consciously or not, what we readers do each time we open a book is to set off a search for authenticity. We want to get closer to the heart of things, and sometimes even a few good sentences contained in an otherwise unexceptional book can crystallize vague feelings, fleeting physical sensations, or, sometimes, profound epiphanies." pg. xvi” 21 likes
More quotes…