From a World of Harsh Limits into Expanded Possibility: Books About Reading

Let’s take a deep look into the act of reading and what it can do for you, using questions and a few great items in our collection as answers.

Why Read?

Mark Edmundson, a professor at the University of Virginia has written a thorough examination of why reading matters in contemporary culture, and more specifically why it matters for young people in higher education.  His book Why Read? is for passionate professors of the humanities.  In the introduction to the book he says

Reading woke me up.  It took me from a world of harsh limits into expanded possibility.  Without poetry, without literature and are, I could well have died miserable.  It was this belief in great writing that, thirty years ago, made me become a teacher.

Does Reading Make You Happier?

Ceridwen Dovey explores this question in the June 9 issue of The New Yorker (which you can access physically in the shelves behind the café in the library).  Drawing on her personal experience with bibliotherapy and from studies published in the past ten years, she examines how reading can shape a life.  How it may make you more empathetic and can restore you through life’s roughest patches. The book mentioned in the article From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You is a truly wonderful, and perhaps even life-changing resource.

How Do You Read?

Francine Prose is a highly regarded and award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction for adults, young adults and children.   She was the president of the PEN American Center. Her book Reading Like a Writer about learning how to write through careful reading is a deep look at what being a close reader of good writing can do for you. Even readers who aren’t interested in becoming writers themselves will marvel at the examples and insights that Prose highlights.

Next week, we’ll continue our look into the world of reading with 2 fantastic new books about books in American culture.

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