Why I Read by Wendy Lesser

why i readIn Why I Read , Lesser draws on a lifetime of pleasure reading and decades of editing one of the most distinguished literary magazines in the country, The Threepenny Review, to describe her love of literature. As Lesser writes in her prologue, “Reading can result in boredom or transcendence, rage or enthusiasm, depression or hilarity, empathy or contempt, depending on who you are and what the book is and how your life is shaping up at the moment you encounter it.”

Here the reader will discover a definition of literature that is as broad as it is broad-minded. In addition to novels and stories, Lesser explores plays, poems, and essays along with mysteries, science fiction, and memoirs. As she examines these works from such perspectives as “Character and Plot,” “Novelty,” “Grandeur and Intimacy,” and “Authority,” Why I Read sparks an overwhelming desire to put aside quotidian tasks in favor of reading. Lesser’s passion for this pursuit resonates on every page, whether she is discussing the book as a physical object or a particular work’s influence. “Reading literature is a way of reaching back to something bigger and older and different,” she writes. “It can give you the feeling that you belong to the past as well as the present, and it can help you realize that your present will someday be someone else’s past. This may be disheartening, but it can also be strangely consoling at times.”

A book in the spirit of E. M. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel and Elizabeth Hardwick’s A View of My Own , Why I Read is iconoclastic, conversational, and full of insight. It will delight those who are already avid readers as well as neophytes in search of sheer literary fun. (description from publisher)

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zeven

storied lifeA. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island – from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J. s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J. s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming.

As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love. (description from publisher)

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is also available for check out as a free ebook through the RiverShare Digital Library.

Favorite Quotes 8

stacks of booksHere’s a beautiful quote, reminding us of the importance of nature. Do you know which book it comes from?

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what they had to teach; and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” 

Did we stump you? Find the answer here.

Favorite Quotes 6

stacks of booksWhoa – last week’s quote was a bit of a downer. Did you recognize which complicated Russian novel it was from? Let’s lighten things up a bit – after all, spring starts this week! – and go with something fun.

“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink”.

Now how could you not want to read this book after an opening line like that? If you’re not sure of the title and want to track it down you can find the answer here.

Favorite Quotes

stacks of booksIt can be argued that we love to read books because we love the written word. Whether it comes to us by electronic device, or letters on a page, words fascinate us, inspire us, amuse us. A well-chosen quote from a favorite book has the power to evoke fond memories and take you back to that joy of first discovery. Join us as we explore some of our favorites. Do you know what book this quote is from? (we started off with an easy one!)

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

Not sure? Find the answer here!