As the annual flood of published novels grows ever greater, it's a hard a job to keep up, let alone sort the wheat from the chaff. Fortunately, literary sleuth and academic John Sutherland is on hand to do precisely that. In the course of over 500 wittily informative pieces he gives us his own very personal take on the most rewarding, most remarkable and, on occasion, mostAs the annual flood of published novels grows ever greater, it's a hard a job to keep up, let alone sort the wheat from the chaff. Fortunately, literary sleuth and academic John Sutherland is on hand to do precisely that. In the course of over 500 wittily informative pieces he gives us his own very personal take on the most rewarding, most remarkable and, on occasion, most shamelessly enjoyable works of fiction ever written - the perfect reading list for the would-be literary expert.His taste is impressively eclectic. An appreciation of Apuleius's The Golden Ass - arguably the first-ever novel - is followed by a consideration of Ian Fleming's Goldfinger. The Handmaid's Tale is followed by Hangover Square, Jane Eyre by Jaws. There are imposing Victorian novels, entertaining contemporary thrillers and everything in between, from dystopian works to romance.The flavour of each is brilliantly evoked and its relative merits or demerits assessed. At the same time, John Sutherland shows how the work fits into a broader context - whether that of the author's life or of other books from the same genre or period. And he offers endless snippets of intriguing information: did you know, for example, that the Nazis banned Bambi or that William Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying on an upturned wheelbarrow; that Voltaire completed Candide in three days, or that Anna Sewell was paid £20 for Black Beauty?Encyclopedic and entertaining by turns, this is a wonderful dip-in book, whose opinions will inform and on occasion, no doubt, infuriate. It is also effectively a history of the novel in 500 or so bite-sized pieces....
|Title||:||how to be well read|
|Number of Pages||:||528 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
how to be well read Reviews
I’ve only had this two days and it’s 503 pages long so I haven’t read more than 60 pages or so but I can review it already because every page is the same same same same same. Mr Sutherland takes a novel and summarises you the whole plot, including the end, in a slightly waggish manner. You have to go over these entries with a magnifying glass to find any clue to whether he actually liked it or not. You might assume that he did, because it’s included here, but THIS ISN’T A GUIDE.Check it out : in the preface, he says This book is not a guide, a reference book, or a “best of” compilationNow, what does it say on the title page… here, lemme quote that for you:A GUIDE TO 500 GREAT NOVELSI guess John Sutherland musta had a slapped-brow head-desk moment when he got his preview copy. "I told them, I told them"Awright, so leaving that ridiculousness aside, what is this thick wedge of a book? He saysThe intention in what follows is to share a lifelong enthusiasm for that wonderful human invention, the prose novel.That sounds good, right, but oh my, grinding slightly sarcastically through the plots of 500 books with virtually no hint as to why you should be interested in the said novels is no way to light my fire, and as regards novels, I am like the Australian bush in high summer, I don’t need that much encouragement. John Sutherland must think these entries sparkle with his lifelong enthusiasm for novels, but maybe it’s the same enthusiasm that undertakers have for corpses – they love them and care for them deeply but you’d never know to look at them. Professional and reserved at all times.I guess this not-guide does have a point for me however, and maybe for you too, given that we can’t read all novels ever (sorry if that has given you a twinge). It does mention a whole host of novels I’d never heard of or, if I had, never had any intention of reading. Examples from first category:Hanta Yo : Ruth Beebe HillLeft behind : Tim LaHaye and Jerry JenkinsOuterbridge Reach : Robert StoneIndependent People : Halldor LaxnessAnd second category:The Rats : James HerbertRiders of the Purple Sage : Zane GreyThe Groves of Academe : Mary McCarthyThe Good Earth : Pearl S BuckSo it’s kinda useful for that. Anyway, I do like books about books, I know they’re a bit porny but hey, this is the site where people like to sniff books, follow books in the street, stalk books, dress books up in see-through clothes, probably marry books for all I know.
How to be well read. A guide to 500 great novels. Impressive title. Except that it's misleading. Complete bollocks in fact. Okay I know it's a matter of opinion, and yes I'm a pretentious book snob. But really - Harry Potter and Fifty Shades? But not The Savage Detectives. Sorry but I can't take this seriously. No wonder our culture is dumbed down when a college professor pays lip service to the anti literate majority. As usual there is the condescending flood of English speaking novels - almost ignoring the vast contribution of Europe and Latin America. Xenophobia reigns supreme in the literary world as elsewhere. The dead giveaway is in the Guardian review which praises the professors "enthusiasm for the western prose novel". In other words this book is woefully inadequate as a guide to World Literature. Yet another wasted opportunity that just perpetuates the myth of the Western Canon. Excuse me while I throw up.
I thought this was possibly going to be quite serious and would break down a lot of the classics. There was a little of this but also a fair amount of not so serious summations of plots. Plus, why is 50 Shades in a book on being well read??!!
I love books about books, particularly if they are packed with academic trivia, and I relish those by John Sutherland in particular. His love of reading and the breadth of his reading always shine through, as does his enthusiasm for sharing his favourite books. How to be Well Read consists of pithy articles about '500 great novels and a handful of literary curiosities'. They range from established classics, to genre favourites and some that are downright mad or dangerous. What I most love from this sort of book (apart from the trivia), is the opportunity to compare notes about books that I have read and enjoyed with Sutherland's own thoughts, and also to discover new books, or be reminded of books that I'd meant to read but then forgotten about. So far, I've read and enjoyed a number of books that I discovered or rediscovered though How to be Well Read - books like Peter Carey's Jack Maggs, Richard Hughes' The Fox in the Attic and A High Wind in Jamaica, with plenty of others also added to my to be read list. These are books that I just wouldn't have encountered if it hadn't been for this wonderful, benevolent guide to a wonderful range of books.
Any new John Sutherland is a delight. I quite clearly haven't read enough of these, although interestingly a few of them seem to be chosen deliberately as ones to avoid - plus one is made up.I shall of course try to read more, but I'm still on 1001 BTRBYD.....
This is definitely not the sort of book to read cover to cover. It gives short synopses and some critical thoughts on a range of novels from airport blockbusters to culture so high that they're nearly impossible to read. It's fun to see what the author (an academic) thinks of the books you've read and I picked up a few to add to my To Read list.
Fun to read, very short pieces on 519 books ranging from pop fiction to classics. Very interesting to see his takes on books I have read, as well as some intriguing suggestions for future reading.
A great book to dip into and out of. So many authors and books I've never heard of.