A funny, scrupulously honest account of one man’s quest to reverse 20 years of lies and read the books he’s always claimed to have read.
'I loved the writing and the characterisation, oh, and the plot – yeah, all really pithy. Really great': sound familiar?
Andy Miller has been living a lie. But then again, who hasn't? How many books have you claimed to have read but never actually finished, or started, or even heard of? Books you've really wanted to read, or should have read, but never had the time, or the inclination? Tackling the canon single-handedly, Miller decides to rectify his twenty odd years of lies and silence his nagging guilt and become the literate man he's always claimed himself to be.
The Year of Reading Dangerously is an inspired and witty tour of literature from all genres: classic, cult and Dan Brown. A comparative reading of The Da Vinci Code and Moby Dick somehow seems inevitable, the Charles Arrowby cookbook becomes a terrifying possibility and an explanation of the curious unreadability of Catch-22 is attempted. We travel from the mires of inaccessibility, incomprehensibility, commodification and confusion to moments of enlightened, ecstatic wonder. It becomes unavoidable to consider how we buy, borrow, steal and generally use and abuse books for our own complicated ends.
Written with characteristic sharp and honest humour, The Year of Reading Dangerously is an affirmation of the pleasure of reading and a challenge to everyone who loves books but has forgotten how to read. Out of serious enquiries into commercialism, mediocrity and our literary prejudices emerges a very funny account of one man's attempt to read more dangerously.
In his fanciful, endearing account of his experiences tackling classic works of fiction, Miller (Tilting at Windmills: How I Tried to Stop Worrying and Love Sport) conveys his love of reading, though the book is light on literary criticism. At age 40, Miller is married, with a young child, a boring job as an editor, and a deeply stultifying daily routine; he takes his cue for this project from another Miller's work, written 50 years ago Henry Miller's The Books in My Life, in which the author explores his life through an account of the books that influenced him. Here, Miller sets for himself an ambitious reading regimen 50 pages per day and begins with Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, which he found inscrutable but enchanting. He plows through works such as George Eliot's Middlemarch and Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage, which he had previously began reading but didn't finish (he doesn't find them much easier to get through the second time around). Both of these made their way onto his "List of Betterment," along with Robert Tressell's The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Colin MacInnes's Absolute Beginners ("It spoke to me when I was 16"), musician Julian Cope's Krautrocksampler, and others. There is plenty of hilarity in Miller's intimate literary memoir, including an idiosyncratic comparison between Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code and Herman Melville's Moby-Dick.