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The Pleasure of Reading

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  189 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
In this work 40 leading writers explain what first made them interested in reading. They describe the comics and childhood classics that first inspired them to read, and what today continues to do so. Contributors include Catherine Cookson, Jeanette Winterson, John Mortimer and Sue Townsend.
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 27th 1992 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
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Jane Louis-Wood
It was the rich vein of ego-wanking pseuditude of so many contributors that put me off, really. Germaine Greer sounds like a Philomena Cunk sketch satirising Germaine Greer. Many authors seem desperately keen to tell you which authors they kept away from - Beatrix Potter and Enid Blyton, usually - so that you can admire the taste and discretion they showed even as infants. Some they want to tell you that they were reduced to reading under the covers with a torch (or candle, allegedly) or while t ...more
Damaskcat
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am always interested in the books other people read so this book was fascinating to me. There are some themes which emerge very clearly from it. A love of reading develops very early for a lot of people - especially authors. Many read because they like being lost in someone else's world and as an escape from their own lives.

I was surprised by how many people - both male and female - read Richmal Crompton's William stories. I too read and enjoyed them - much more in general than stories about g
...more
Nikki
I love books about books, especially about people's love for books. However, this collection lacked diversity. The same books and authors got mentioned again and again and again.
Pamela
May 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won a copy of this book in a social media giveaway. It is a collection of short essays by over 40 leading writers, where they talk about their earliest recollections of reading, the books that inspired them, and their favourite books of all time.

This is a fascinating glimpse into how certain people become avid readers, the importance of reading to their lives, and how their own development as writers was linked to the books they read. The writers represented in the book cover a wide range of
...more
Louise Culmer
Apr 04, 2018 rated it liked it
fairly interesting anthology of authors writing about the books they have loved most in their lives, from childhood onwards. some of the accounts of their childhood reading is fascinating, Judith Kerr's experience of childhood reading in Germany, Switzerland, France and England for instance (she arrived in England with a vocabulary drawn from the school stories of Angela Brazil). most choose classic authors as their favourites: Shakespeare, Dickens, Jane Austen, the Brontes, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy ...more
Aruna Kumar Gadepalli
This book contains 43 writers and their writing on reading books and the books they enjoyed reading. Truly a pleasure of reading
Stephanie Patterson
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When I first started reading this book, I was a little disappointed. The various favorite books seemed a little too bland. It didn't surprise me that in this British book, I would find many references to Enid Blyton and Richmal Crompton, but the sameness of the selections did start to disappoint. Then I found the essay by Gita Mehta where she describes the lively sale of books on the streets in India "Sabib. The latest from Plato, The Republic" as if it had been written just the week before. Th ...more
Andres
Feb 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anthologies
43 writers writing about the books that got them into reading and inspired their careers? I'm sold.

But it quickly becomes apparent that this is a very British-centric collection of recollections. Very British. And very, um, what's a nice word for dated? Sure, this is a 20-some year old anthology that's been updated with 5 new authors, but since the essays are arranged by chronological order of the author's birth year (starting 1909!), a vast majority of the books and authors remembered end up be
...more
Alayne
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book :)
And it brought back so many memories of my early years of reading ... reading a book in bed under the covers at night by torch light
... ALWAYS having a book to hand and being told to "Put that book down!"
... getting annoyed if ever a Birthday or Christmas Day passed WITHOUT A NEW BOOK arriving!!!
... perusing through the bookshelves in my Granddad's house looking for something different

So many books to read and so little time in which to read them :)
Barnaby
Mar 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyed this. A collection of revealing essays about, as the title suggests, the pleasure of reading. From one page you go from breathtaking snobbery towards some books people regard as childhood classics, to the next you get a fascinating insight into people's 'Desert Island' reads. An utter joy.
Stephanie
But 17 stars for Jeannette Winterson's contribution, along with Margaret Atwood's... A few others were excellent too, but some of the older entries came off a bit elitist, even for my taste.
Vikas Datta
Dec 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A spell-binding account of how our favourite authors discovered this pleasure and what their favourite reading was..
Stella Budrikis
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I made two mistakes with this book. First, I borrowed it from the library, so had a time limit on reading it. It's really a book for keeping by your bedside, to be dipped into over weeks or months. Second, I didn't realise that the authors were arranged in chronological order of birth until I reached the biographical details provided at the back of the book. As a result, I almost gave up on reading it because everyone in the first few chapters seemed to be English and have read the same books as ...more
Stargazer
i'd have preferred a broader range of writers, the favourites list became so reptitive i stopped reading them, would have benefitted from the inclusion some newer younger authors. Not brilliant but interesting in places.
Lauren Albert
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
As these kinds of anthologies tend to be--a mixed bag. I did get some good quotes about reading.
David
Another collection of insights from well read writers. Something to dip into from time to time but now I must get into reading some of their suggestions.
G.
May 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If I didn't know better, I would think this book was written especially for me, someone who loves to read, loves to read about writers and their reading experiences in childhood, and loves lists of top ten favorite books. (I just love lists. I have a list of the top ten lists that I love, even.)
This book, as edited by British mystery writer Antonia Fraser, is a collection of essays submitted by forty plus published authors about their childhood reading and how it started their book-loving journe
...more
Jack Coleman
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book for those of us that are addicted to print. A compendium of mostly British authors
which lead you through their lives of reading.Sue Townsend mentions that she didn't learn to read
before the age of eight and that her teacher was a nasty drunk with a face like a dyspeptic badger!
So the comments at the end of Hermione Lee's piece is so relavent.She writes:
"For many young readers,the possibilities of liesured,rich,rewarding reading depend on prolific and uncensored supplies of book
...more
Deb
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Bible, Shakespeare, Dickens and Just William seem to be the most lauded books by these 45 writers of "Britain and her Empire." I must see if I can find these William books - apparently they did not survive any attempts to cross the North Atlantic.

I should have had pen and paper near so I could jot down all the impressive titles (Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Proust) on the required list, but luckily, I'm just a reader so I can continue to gobble whatever comes to hand.

One note of thanks - the folks
...more
Quiddity
Dec 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Very UK focused, and on authors who grew up reading the canonical classics (hence a fair amount of repetition). I greatly enjoyed about half of the essays within, particularly those by Philip Ziegler, Jan Morriss, Rana Kabbani, and Gita Mehta.
Kylan
Aug 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While some of the authors in this book (and I'm meaning the ones who like to take the mickey out of themselves) are great to learn of. However, there are a lot of authors here that love (and I mean LOVE) the sound of their own voice. I read it as being pretentious and I couldn't wait to finish their chapter.

But for those that I laughed with, I was genuinely interested to find out how they discovered reading and what books were in their list of fav's.
Evalangui
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
I loved this. So many addicts confessing! Im tempted to add my own reading history in the back.

Particularly read: Jeanette Winterson and Timberlake Wertenbaker (one thing I regret is that the paper is so lovely, I havent dog-eared or marked my favourite passages as is my custom. Oh, come on, dont gasp! Books are alive! They grow with annotation). Anyway, definitely worth getting your hands on.
...more
Elizabeth
I picked this off the new books shelf at the library. This is an updated edition of this title. Each author takes 3-4 pages to explain their reading life and generally include a list of favorites at the end. The end notes give a short bio of each author. I wasn't familiar with most of the authors, but really I was looking to see how well their reading lives coincided with mine. Mostly it was in my love of Jane Austen that I was rewarded.
Ke
May 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most of the essays were about the writers' reading life, though some also revealed how the reading bled into their writing. I especially liked the essays from authors I liked (e.g., JG Ballard), but not the essays from the authors I didn't like (e.g., Tom Wells). I highly recommend it, as a way to adventure into new reading challenges.
Drew Pyke
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
This is a strange concept for a book. The only learning from it I had was the variety of choices rather than a template as you'd expect in this industry. It wouldn't be in my top ten (see what I did there?)
Margaret
Oct 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommended for all those avid readers around. I re-discovered my own history of reading through what I recognised in others and what was "totally out of my world" - the books I had loved but forgotten and the books I never loved and still don't.
Sharen
May 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
People's choices are fascinating, as always. It reassures me that some of us still love words and books as much as we do!
Barbara Quinlan
Austen, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and Dickens. Must read and re-read.
Mckinley
Oct 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library-book, essay
Various authors talk about their experiences with reading including a list of favorites. Most started loving to read young and that habit has carried on throughout their lives.
Rose
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Writers tell of books that were important to them. This is reprint from 1992 so some writers are now deceased. Interesting but uneven.
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Antonia Fraser is the author of many widely acclaimed historical works, including the biographies Mary, Queen of Scots (a 40th anniversary edition was published in May 2009), Cromwell: Our Chief of Men, King Charles II and The Gunpowder Plot (CWA Non-Fiction Gold Dagger; St Louis Literary Award). She has written five highly praised books which focus on women in history, The Weaker Vessel: Women's ...more
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“[...] students should be told that an effort is always required, when you start to read a serious author, to overcome mental laziness and reluctance, because you are about to enter the mind of someone who thinks differently from yourself. And that is the whole point and the only point: the literary treasure-house has many mansions.” 3 likes
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