Eric's Reviews > Joy of Reading

Joy of Reading by Charles Van Doren
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's review
Feb 28, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: childhood, men-of-letters

A book that changed my life--by changing my reading. Up until about 14 I read exclusively military history--biographies of great commanders, accounts of famous battles, technical histories of The Tank and The Bomber. The only novelist I recall reading before high school was James Fenimore Cooper. 'The Joy of Reading' consists of short, 3-4 page essays on the favorites of Van Doren's polymathic reading. The entries on 'The Scarlett Letter' and 'Crime and Punishment' convinced me to cease poring over diagrams of killing machines and pick up some belles lettres; and my reading now is lopsidedly literary. The tone throughout is personal, reminiscent and chatty--the best kind of pedagogic voice. Van Doren embarrassed his caste and calling by participation in the rancidly populist charade of a crooked 50's quiz show--in addition to its overall mendacity, '21' featured several deftly engineered, crowd-pleasing anti-Semitic and anti-intellectual plot twists--but this work of generous learning more than recoups his honor. Old Mark would be proud.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn "rancidly populist" ? Is that like "disgustingly democratic" .....or "putridly proletarian" ?

message 2: by Bettie☯ (new)

Bettie☯ Thom wrote: ""rancidly populist" ? Is that like "disgustingly democratic" .....or "putridly proletarian" ? "

Thom! you made me snort my tea.

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