How Literature Saved My Life

How Literature Saved My Life

3.35 (707 ratings by Goodreads)
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"Reading "How Literature Saved My Life "is like getting to listen in on a really great, smart, provocative conversation. The book is not straightforward, it resists any single interpretation, and it seems to me to constitute nothing less than a new form." --Whitney Otto
In this wonderfully intelligent, stunningly honest, painfully funny book, acclaimed writer David Shields uses himself as a representative for all readers and writers who seek to find salvation in literature.
Blending confessional criticism and anthropological autobiography, Shields explores the power of literature (from Blaise Pascal's "Pensees "to Maggie Nelson's "Bluets, " Renata Adler's "Speedboat" to Proust's" Remembrance of Things Past") to make life survivable, maybe even endurable. Shields evokes his deeply divided personality (his "ridiculous" ambivalence), his character flaws, his woes, his serious despairs. Books are his life raft, but when they come to feel un-lifelike and archaic, he revels in a new kind of art that is based heavily on quotation and consciousness. And he shares with us a final irony: he wants "literature to assuage human loneliness, but nothing can assuage human loneliness. Literature doesn't lie about this--which is what makes it essential."
A captivating, thought-provoking, utterly original way of thinking about the essential acts of reading and writing.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 207 pages
  • 144.78 x 213.36 x 27.94mm | 362.87g
  • Random House USA Inc
  • Random House Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0307961524
  • 9780307961525
  • 425,825

Review quote

Chosen as one of the most anticipated books of 2013 by Publishers Weekly, Millions, and Flavorpill. A Salon Editor's Pick and Powell's Staff Pick.
"Here is a mind on fire, a writer at war with the page. These rigorous, high-octane, exhaustive yet taut ruminations on ambivalence, love, melancholy, and mortality are like an arrow laced with crack to the brain. [Shields'] gun-to-the-head prose explicates an all-consuming passion for reading, writing, and 'the redemptive grace of human consciousness itself."--Kristy Davis, " O, The Oprah Magazine
""In this wonderful, vastly entertaining book, he weaves together literary criticism, quotations, and his own fragmentary recollections to illustrate, in form and content, how art--real art, the kind that engages and reflects the world around it--has made his life meaningful as both creator and beholder. Shields is an elegant, charming, and very funny writer. . . . Although his subject is himself, his instructions should prove useful--inspiring even--to all readers and writers."--Eugenia Wiliamson, "The Boston Globe"
"I'm grateful for "How Literature Saved My Life" because the book has made me think again--and for the first time in a while--'Well, what is it we do when we read?' It's a damned annoying question, but it needs to be asked now and then, and Shields has asked it in a way I find resonant and moving."--Andre Alexis, " Toronton Globe and Mail
""A generation from now, when we pick up our flex-tablets or digi-goggles or whatever and read about literature at the turn of the twenty-first century, there's a decent chance we'll see it referred to as the David Shields era."--Mark Athitakis, "Barnes & Noble Review
""Shields is a stunning writer. Within this book lies significant passion and revelation. . . . What makes for an amazing reading experience is the piecing together an argument from the fragments. . . . The guy is a maestro." --"The Huffington Post"
"Shields has an uncannyy
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About Professor David Shields

DAVID SHIELDS is the author of thirteen previous books, including "Reality Hunger" (named one of the best books of 2010 by more than thirty publications), "The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead" ("New York Times "best seller), "Black Planet" (National Book Critics Circle Award finalist), and "Remote" (winner of the PEN/Revson Award). He has published essays and stories in dozens of periodicals, including "The New York Times Magazine, Harper's, "The Village Voice, " The Yale Review, Salon, Slate," "McSweeney's, "and "The Believer. "His work has been translated into fifteen languages.
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Rating details

707 ratings
3.35 out of 5 stars
5 15% (104)
4 34% (238)
3 30% (212)
2 16% (112)
1 6% (41)
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