The Year of Reading Dangerously:
How Fifty Great Books (and Two Not-So-Great Ones) Saved My Life
A working father whose life no longer feels like his own discovers the transforming powers of great (and downright terrible) literature in this laugh-out-loud memoir.
Andy Miller had a job he quite liked, a family he loved, and no time at all for reading. Or so he kept telling himself. But, no matter how busy or tired he was, something kept niggling at him. Books. Books he’d always wanted to read. Books he’d said he’d read that he actually hadn’t. Books that whispered the promise of escape from the daily grind. And so, with the turn of a page, Andy began a year of reading that was to transform his life completely.
This book is Andy’s inspirational and very funny account of his expedition through literature: classic, cult, and everything in between. Beginning with a copy of Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita that he happens to find one day in a bookstore, he embarks on a literary odyssey. From Middlemarch to Anna Karenina to A Confederacy of Dunces, this is a heartfelt, humorous, and honest examination of what it means to be a reader, and a witty and insightful journey of discovery and soul-searching that celebrates the abiding miracle of the book and the power of reading.
For me, the premise of this book was much more appealing than its reality. I liked reading the author’s commentary on some of the books that I’ve read or am interested in reading, but on the whole, I felt the book lacked having a point… I get that he “found” himself through this project, and all that, but it seemed lacking in substance. Maybe I felt that way because the book lacked a story-arc typically found in fiction books, I don’t know. It just seemed to ramble a little too much for my taste.
I did find myself gaining small nuggets from the book, so I don’t feel like it was a complete waste of my reading time. I liked that the author and his wife read two copies of War and Peace simultaneously. My husband is not one that typically reads for pleasure, so I suggested to him that we should read a book together while also doing something he enjoyed that I typically don’t do (like play a video game or something). He hasn’t taken me up on the offer, but I’ve not given up hope yet. I think it’s a grand idea.
Would I recommend this to fellow book lovers? Probably Not.
Would I recommend this to my teen daughter? Most certainly not.
2.5 of 3 stars.