Reading to Learn About Ourselves: Books About Books

Dissecting great books that have endured and are beloved and familiar to many is a great way to look at what we, as a society, value and how we view ourselves.  We have two stellar new books in our After Class collection worth checking out that explore this issue.

Anyone who has ever heard Maureen Corrigan’s wise yet down-to-earth book reviews on Fresh Air on NPR will probably want to read what she has to say about everyone’s favorite high school lit class read, The Great Gatsby.  Her new book So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came To Be And Why It Endures  is a satisfying read for lovers of the novel. It’s engaging and intelligent but not overly academic (which means it’s a great pick for semester break). Corrigan looks at what makes the book so special- it’s not what many people think; and also reflects on why the books has come to be buried so thoroughly in American consciousness.

Azar Nafisi came to this country from Iran, and the inspiration for her newest book, The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books was a comment someone made to her about how Americans don’t care about literature as deeply as people in other countries.  Her response to this comment is this penetrating and enthusiastic look at works by three distinctly American novelists: Mark Twain, Sinclair Lewis and Carson McCullers. She urges us to take a deep look at the America presented by these writers and how those ideas are represented in American life today.  For those who were moved by Giovanni’s Room last school year, the epilogue centered on James Baldwin is particularly powerful.


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