The Year of Reading Dangerously – Andy Miller

If I said that I read 180 books last year, you would say that I need to get out more. I promise, I do sometimes go out, and help organise coffee mornings, belong to a writing group, and other things… But I do buy a lot of books, and keep the local library’s borrowing figures up. Yes, people, I admit. I am addicted to books.

Which makes reading today’s books, A Year of  Reading Dangerously, familiar yet at times incomprehensible.

Andy Miller evidently realised that he was spending too much time checking his phone, staring out of windows and other things, and that  he would devote his time to reading. Not just anything, but (eventually) fifty books that would lead to “Betterment”. These are the books that he has claimed to have read over decades, but with one or two exceptions, hasn’t actually got round to actually, well, reading.

So this is a book of guilt. Guilt that we have acquired books that we haven’t actually read, that we hoard in case the right moment comes to embark on the new translation of War and Peace, or the latest ‘must read’. Guilt that we start a book and don’t actually finish it, in favour of a less worthy, but much easier read (or reread). Guilt that we claim to know all about a book when we have only read the reviews.

If any of the above seems familiar, then there are parts of this book that will be painfully well written. It also deals with book groups in their infinite variety, where and where to read books, and a touching section on meeting Douglas Adams. There is a lot about Andy Miller and his life, especially as an editor, reader, husband and dad. This is a very readable book about a developing obsession with reading and its effects, and I enjoyed it overall.

This is not a book to be read if you want a what to read next guide, and despite the spoilers warning, doesn’t really tell you much about the books mentioned. This is a bad thing, because, like any book obsessive, I’m always keen to know what other people think about books I have read and enjoyed. There are a few books here that I really don’t recognise, and frankly from the description here, I’m no further forward. So, it may be worth skipping bits of this book, which is a shame, unless you want to know about German pop music, or whatever at least one chapter is about.

Overall, this is a good book about reading books, funny, involving and realistic. It may well suggest how you can read more books with enjoyment, beyond the ones mentioned here. It is not a detailed lit criticism book, and you may come away from it no further forward in discovering new books to read. Dangerously? No. Inconveniently, yes. Funny? definately.

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