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

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  4,826 ratings  ·  1,051 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, 338 pages
Published December 9th 2014 by Harper Perennial (first published April 1st 2012)
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Jillian I am two -thirds of the way through it. Really enjoyed the first part, some bits are less appealing to me than others. But thus far it has rekindled a…moreI am two -thirds of the way through it. Really enjoyed the first part, some bits are less appealing to me than others. But thus far it has rekindled a spark for reading I have missed. (less)
Robert Riley Under 300 pages, depending on whether you count epilogue and appendices.

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Paul Bryant
Dec 07, 2015 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 Vinci Code and Moby Dick :

- Quest – one for a whale, one for a grail
- Infodumps by the kilogram
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 read ...more
Mar 06, 2015 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 so ...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
Jul 16, 2018 marked it as couldnt-finish
I was halfway through "Books Three to Five" and the amount of dread and boredom I felt while re-reading the same paragraph over and over started growing exponentially.
The author takes some time to explain that this is not a book of book reviews or literary criticism, it's how the Shelf/List of Betterment books he read for his be-a-better-reader/person project changed him, helped him grow, made him stop lying about books he'd read but hadn't really, etc.
And I just didn't care. I didn't agree wit
Alissa Patrick
Jun 20, 2017 rated it did not like it
DNF @ 131 pages.

As a huge bookworm, I have zero patience for book/author shamers- aka judging someone for liking certain book genres or authors. There are genres and authors that I personally don't like. What would give ME the right to judge you if you happen to like an author that I hate? There are so many different books that it seems ridiculous to all like the same thing!!

There are a few authors that come to mind that seem to be in Author Shaming category; if you like their books then there
Sep 03, 2015 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
“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
Ilze Folkmane
Dec 06, 2014 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
Bianca Winter
Jun 03, 2014 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
Diane Barnes
Sep 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: slow-reads
Amusing account of a man spending a year reading all the books he claimed to have read, but never did. Plus one he actually read that he wished he hadn't. "The Davinci Code".
Aug 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
I picked this up because I have just started listening to the Backlisted Podcast, presented by Andy Miller and John Mitchinson, and I LIKE that podcast. It's fun, it's clever, it has quickly become one of my favourites. So I thought I'd read Andy's book and that it would be as entertaining as Backlisted. IT'S NOT. Jesus Christ, it's really not.

God, this was awful. I love reading books about other people reading books, but this was just so dreary. It's a lot more memoir than anything else, and hi
Nov 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
Meh. I knew I was in trouble when the introduction bored and annoyed me with the author's desperate attempts to seem witty and clever, both regarding the conceptual-but-ultimately-rejected titles for this book, and all of the Not-Andy-Miller people that he is not, but I decided to continue... Now I'm sorry I bothered.

Disclaimer: I did not listen to the entire book. I skipped the chapters/sections pertaining to books that I intend to read (eventually) and did not want spoiled. If I had never hea
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 ...more
May 23, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015, kindle
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,
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The premise behind 'The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (and Two Not-So-Great Ones) Saved My Life' is that Andy Miller, a writer, editor, former bookseller, and latterly the co-presenter of the wonderful Backlisted Podcast, concluded that he should return to reading notable books, having got out of the habit. He created what he dubbed "A List of Betterment" and soon his commute was taken up with reading. "A List of Betterment" started with 12 books but, having knocked them off ...more
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
Feb 28, 2015 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
Kim Friant
Oct 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eh, not bad but definitely not my favorite.
Jan 27, 2015 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,
Dec 22, 2015 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
Chris Lilly
May 15, 2014 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
Jun 22, 2015 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
Katy Noyes
May 17, 2015 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,
Jun 05, 2014 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
Bam cooks the books ;-)
#2015 Reading Challenge--week 14: a nonfiction book.

"Really, I believe that an entire life spent reading would have suited me best." Michel Houellebecq

"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." Schopenhauer

I enjoyed this memoir of a year of reading, most especially the discussions about books I've already read, although it was fun to get a few suggestions for good boo
A light and funny book by one of the hosts of the Backlisted podcast. This is not so much literary criticism but rather a memoir, closely related to books, in the vein of Nick Hornby's Stuff I've Been Reading essays. Hence it is not a surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Dec 25, 2014 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
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Note to self : Ines, No more reading about somebody else reading for a long while... I hated it. He lied about books he read... Why would someone do that? One should read whatever they want at the moment they want... You are not too early to read a book or too late. A section about booksellers? Okay I get it.

In my modest opinion, I think it is more important that people read! *not what they read*
Nov 26, 2014 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
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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

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