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

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  1,572 Ratings  ·  315 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
ebook, 240 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2005)
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Rebecca Foster
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
Teji
Mar 23, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As a true book lover, I was drawn to this book by the 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
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Veronika
Mar 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Melanie
Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Lindsay
Jun 01, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Amber Dunten
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 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 mountain
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Matthew
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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Kathy
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
Claryn
Aug 19, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
Caren
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
notyourmonkey
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.
...more
Trisha
Jul 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mary La douceur
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Iris
Sep 10, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Cassandra
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.
Kayla Eklund
2.5 stars.
Gwen
Oct 13, 2009 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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
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Shannon
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
Joanne-in-Canada
Jan 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Meredith
Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful personal memoir by one who really loves books, and has made them her life's work. Maureen has a talent for describing her most loved and influential books; and the way in which they have shaped her life. Reading her memoir I was inspired to look again at some books that she gives special attention to. I was delighted to find that she writes reviews for a well known paper in New York, and that some of these reviews can be accessed online. One of the books that she recommends is "Gaudy ...more
Ensiform
May 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The author, a book review for NPR and the Village Voice, discusses her lifelong love of books and how voracious reading has shaped her thought and life, from her Catholic school days to marriage and her adoption of a daughter from China. Corrigan reads through her Catholic, feminist prism, and though I don’t always agree with her analysis – the ending of Pride and Prejudice as subjugation of Elizabeth’s fiery spirit, for example – she’s always entertaining, erudite, and easy to read. It’s an unu ...more
Kris
This book holds the same rambling flaws of disorganization that plague So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures, in the extreme. I'm tired of reading about Corrigan's life disguised as good nonfiction about literature -- when really it's just a memoir by someone who doesn't need to write one.

I knew from the first dozen pages of chapter one that I wouldn't like this book. I gave it 40 pages, didn't even finish chapter one, and then set it down to seek out better things. G
...more
John
Sep 04, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was immediately attracted to this book by the title. It evokes curling up with a good book while time passes by.
Ms. Corrigan is a book reviewer and a professor of English. In the course of the book she often starts discussing a book she loves, which is interesting, but then the professor side of her gets involved and starts analysing the book to death, which is not interesting. She is a fan of detective novels and devotes a large section to a discussion of them, which I really enjoyed. However
...more
Sarah
Jul 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great, fun book. She's NPR's Fresh Air book critic and has a true love for strong female characters like detectives, adventurers, etc. Lots of great book recommendations inside, reminds me why I love reading! ALSO recommended for anyone who grew up Catholic, because she did, and talks a lot about how that upbringing affected what she loves to read (in a positive way). I found it fascinating!
Olgalijo
Aug 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh my, I felt completely identified with the narrator in this book, and I felt vindicated by her analysis of the murder mystery genre, because it mirrors very much what I've been trying to tell people for years.
Donna
Nov 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went thru phases of really liking it and just liking it. Mostly really liking it. Her words grow on you. Her descriptions and the way she phrased things somehow, as the book jacket says "weaves" you into into her life. For those who appreciate books and know the value of a good story.
Lynne
May 25, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Despite the great title, I had a hard time losing myself in this book. There was just too much literary criticism for me.
Jaime
Jan 20, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Zzzzzz.....leave me alone, I'm sleeping.
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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
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“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.” 1852 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” 16 likes
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