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How Reading Changed My Life

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  3,745 ratings  ·  524 reviews
A recurring theme throughout Anna Quindlen's How Reading Changed My Life is the comforting premise that readers are never alone. "There was waking, and there was sleeping. And then there were books," she writes, "a kind of parallel universe in which anything might happen and frequently did, a universe in which I might be a newcomer but never really a stranger. My real, tru ...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published December 22nd 2010 by Ballantine Books (first published 1998)
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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  3,745 ratings  ·  524 reviews

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Nov 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Anna Quindlen is a veteran novelist and New York Times columnist who has won the Pulitzer Prize for her journalism. In this short book of essays that packs a punch, she takes us down her memory lane to tell us why she reads, citing her favorite books along the way. For this lovely reflection on the reading and writing life, I rate How Reading Changed My Life 4 stars.

People have been reading for various reasons since the first printed word appeared on cuneiform thousands of years ago. Books have
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, bookishness
I have a fondness for books about books. I love it when writers and fellow bibliophiles wax nostalgic about their favorite reading experiences. Reading is a way of exploring the world without leaving your living room, and reading about other readers reminds me that I am not alone in my love of curling up with a good book.

This is a thoughtful collection of essays by Anna Quindlen on various topics about books and reading. It is a slim book, only 70 pages of prose and then a few lists of favorite
Feb 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I enjoyed this book for the most part. It's quite biographical, as the title implies, but it also has a lot of information about the history of books, reading etc. Great quotes about reading by famous writers are also included.

I could definitely relate to many of Quindlen's experiences as a reader. For example, the hostility and suspicion that some look upon readers.I did find that she made some assumptions though. For example, not all children who were readers were solitary and preferred their
Aug 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-on-books
If you have been a book lover since you were a child, this book is for you! I felt as though Quindlen was speaking directly to me, and expressing my same thoughts about reading. She talks of changes as she grew up (50s/60s) with books like Friedan's The Feminine Mystique and how today things are changing with technology. She writes "It's 30 years since man first walked on the moon, and when people sit down to a big old fashioned supper it is still a plate of roast beef and mashed potatoes, not a ...more
This very short book praises the act of reading. Quindlen who was educated in Catholic parochial schools (as I was for 6 of my K-12 education) described an educational experience that was very familiar. My family also had a set of encyclopedias, and Reader's Digest condensed books. We got the daily newspaper, the weekly Catholic Transcript newspaper, and Reader's Digest. But form a young age, I had a library card. Libraries were essential. Books were expensive and Quindlen discusses the fact tha ...more
Nov 21, 2016 rated it liked it
I love to read books about books. When surrounded by many who have no desire to read I sometimes find myself losing some faith in humanity's future. I truly do not understand the lack of desire. I can't imagine going anywhere without a book and guess what, because of that I'm NEVER bored.
By the way, why is it socially unacceptable to read a book instead of stare at your phone?

At a young age I was taken by my father to our local library. He truly read everything. He would pick out a large stack
Jun 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The part of this book that I liked talked about what it means to be a lover of books. Her voracious reading of books as a girl mirrors my childhood as an avid reader. I would brush my teeth reading a book! I would hide under the covers with a flashlight reading books so my dad wouldn't know I was still awake! I liked that she challenged the perception "non-lovers of books" have about book lovers being lazy because they read so much. She also reinforces my belief that we don't always have to read ...more
Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*

3.5 stars

“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”

I've been in such a mood to read books about books and love of reading. This short book has an author who always loved reading - the first part of the book was the best. After that it became a little flawed, but overall there are points in each chapter worth noting.

So far I'm in love with this author's writing style! It's interesting how she opens the book with not only her love
Julie Suzanne
Dec 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: auto-bio-memoir
Before sending this to an interested fellow bookcrosser, I flipped through the pages as a way of saying goodbye. I ended up reading the whole book again! Initially, this book was required reading for a college seminar course about "how we read." It was the best course of my life for many reasons, but this book was one of probably 20 books I was reading in a 3-month period. So I'm sure I got more out of it this second time.
It's wonderful! Inspiring! Quindlen is an outstanding writer who makes any
Sue Dix
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am always going to rate books about reading and books very highly. Because this was written in 1998, before e-readers, the section about the experience of reading on a laptop is funny. I still prefer hard copy books. Oh, also, there are a few reading lists at the end. I love reading lists. Long live the written word.
Victoria Evangelina Allen
Feb 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone who loves books and reading


I love being on planes, love being in airports; sometimes I truly feel that I like journey more than the destination: it is a time out of time, a moment in life to fully relax and take all the responsibility off my shoulders, and, as Anna Quindlen helped me to fully realize, a time to read:

"This is what I like about traveling: the time on airplanes spent reading, solitary, happy. It turns out that when my younger self thought of taking wing, she wanted only to let her spirit so
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a fellow voracious reader, Quindlen's reasons for reading pretty much mirror mine. She says "Reading has always been my home, my sustenance, my great invincible companion....I did not read from a sense of superiority, or advancement, or even learning. I read because I loved it more than any other activity on earth." Yep, I completely understand and relate to that feeling . We bookworms were made to feel weird and nerdy and possibly freakish as a child. I wasn't made to feel that way at home b ...more
Beth Bonini
I was first assigned this book as part of a Young Adult literature class I was taking for my Master's degree in reading education. I have a real soft spot for books about books and personal essays about the all-absorbing pleasure of reading. I could identify with Anna Quindlen: not only had we read and loved so many of the same books, and been formed by them, but at some fundamental level we are both people who would rather be reading than doing almost anything else. I suspect that 98% of the wo ...more
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Quindlen’s lists of books at the end pushed it to a 4-star !
Feb 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Yum. What reader isn't gonna give it 5 stars?
Jen Brodehl
4 Stars- This is a super short 80 page book. I love how it went over so many positive and beneficial things around being a reader. And explains why books are so amazing. There are some quotes in here that will stay with me forever!
Carol Storm
Sep 13, 2015 rated it did not like it
The thing that jumps out at you when you leaf through this bland, inoffensive, feature article sized little booklet is not so much that Anna Quindlen loves books, but that she has an infallible instinct for the second rate. To Kill A Mockingbird, not Huckleberry Finn. The Catcher In The Rye, not A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, not Call It Sleep. A Christmas Carol, not Moby Dick. This more than a matter of laziness or bad taste. Anna Quindlen is instinctively dr ...more
Laura Stenzel
Jan 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A lovely retrospective for all of us who had to be forced to "put down that stupid book".
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
"Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home."
I love love this book, I was smiling the whole time because I couldn't identify more. This is a book written for us people who love reading for reading's sake and who would encourage others to dive into whatever book they like even if it doesn't go in line with the " intellectually beneficial" and " good quality " norms because reading has always been about passion and zeal otherwise it's
Anna Quindlen has written an amazing little book for book-lovers everywhere. She touches on subjects many of us bibliphiles are familiar with--our beloved books from childhood and how our opinions of them change, the need for a physical book in your hand (as opposed to an e-reader), and the stereotype that we as voracious readers are loners, weird, or lazy. Even if you don't love to read, I can only imagine that this book would encourage you to and change your mind. I felt the book was the perfe ...more
Jun 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I love Anna Quindlen's thoughts on reading, and I love knowing that there are others out there who feel the same way I do about books and reading. Some favorite quotes:
" never seemed to me like a book, but like a place I had lived in, had visited and would visit again, just as all the people in them, every blessed one-Anne of Green Gables, Heidi, Jay Gatsby, Elizabeth Bennet, Scarlet O'Hara, Dill and Scout, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot-were more real than the real people I knew."
"In bo
Feb 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed Quindlen's reminiscences about growing up with books. As she recalled a neighbors basement filled with books that she borrowed and read; I too could remember a relatives home filled with books. I recalled the feeling I had when I pulled books from those shelves and how the books felt in my hands and the musty smell of them.

Like Quindlen I have had a love affair with books all my life. Reading this book is like remembering an old lover. I got a warm, fuzzy feeling thinking about the pla
Nov 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really just always enjoy books about books. This one was rife with relatable experiences and recommendations I couldn't add to my amazon cart fast enough. My only beef with it is what I felt was her underlying assumption that across the board, the life of a woman (especially in a traditional role) is an unfulfilling one that must be escaped from. It was kind of a recurring theme in the book. I stay home with my children, and I don't read because I'm repressed -- I read because it feeds my soul ...more
Dec 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Some interesting quotes and book references. I liked the lists at the end of the book. Other than that, I wasn't that impressed.
Michele Karpinske
Dec 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good short book packed with literary references. Quindlen states that "In books I have traveled, not only to other worlds, but into my own." She gets to the heart of every book lover out there. This was written before ebooks became popular so I wonder what she thinks now? I also LOVE the lists in the back! It's a charming little book!
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really 3.5.
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was a delight. Only 84 pages, the title is self-explanatory. It's inspired me to start what will be a large journal entry by the same name.
Alisha S
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this. While I didn't agree with every single thing and some comments didn't super resonate with me, I enjoyed this short little read about the joys of reading.
Apr 02, 2020 rated it liked it
This was a quick read. I love books about books. Although this was about books and reading, I found it lacking something . A few really good points in it and will possibly keep to refer to her lists, but just mediocre for me.
Sophia Z
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked most the analogy of books in the digital age to roast beef and mash potatoes in the space-traveling age (i.e. astronaut food). "It is not simply that we need information, but that we want to savor it, carry it with us, feel the heft of it under our arm. We like the thing itself."
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Anna Quindlen is a novelist and journalist whose work has appeared on fiction, nonfiction, and self-help bestseller lists. She is the author of eight novels: Object Lessons, One True Thing, Black and Blue, Blessings, Rise and Shine, Every Last One, Still Life with Bread Crumbs, and Miller’s Valley. Her memoir Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, published in 2012, was a number one New York Times bests ...more

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