How to Read and Why

How to Read and Why

3.59 (2,075 ratings by Goodreads)
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A new book by America's leading literary critic on the uses of deep reading. Practical, inspirational and learned, How to Read and Why is Bloom's manifesto for the preponderance of written culture. In the vastly influential The Western Canon, Harold Bloom outlined what we should read to understand a greater depth of the individual self. How to Read and Why continues the argument and focusses on how we use literature in order to gain deeper self-awareness. Poems, stories, novels, plays and parables are all analysed as forms of writing as immersion, the language of individuality and inwardness: Shakespeare's sonnets, the short stories of Hemingway and de Cervantes, the novels of Proust and Calvino, Sophocles's Oedipus Rex and Mark's Gospel. Harold Bloom also addresses the idea of why we read: increased individuality, respite from visual bombardment, a return to 'deep feeling' and 'deep thinking'. How to Read and Why is an essential book for any reader, an introduction to the world of written culture, an inspirational self-help book for students and teachers more

Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 128 x 192 x 20mm | 222.26g
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1841150398
  • 9781841150390
  • 44,739

Review Text

The eminent American literary critic Bloom sets out here an apologia for the act of reading and a sample selection of short stories, novels and plays that will teach us to read deeply. Professor Bloom sees reading as completely personal and isolated, a way to mould, ground, strengthen and heal the individual through a lone encounter with the otherness of a great text. His selection includes both classics (Shakespeare, Dickens, Shelley) and recent works (Calvino, Borges, Pynchon, Toni Morrison). For each text, he writes a short commentary and traces lineages within the tradition. After a lifetime's reading, Bloom deliberately pragmatic approach means his commentaries come across as literal, anecdotal and occasionally meandering. His selection of writers - predominantly male, white and focused largely on the canon - is explained by his claim that universities have ceased to teach reading in favour of theory and ideology and now deny the potential reader the wholeness of an encounter with the tradition of great texts. In a society under siege to the mass media, Bloom sees his task as rescuing wisdom from the mass of mere information and stopping the books he loves and the skills required to read them becoming obsolete. The only drawback to Bloom's approach is that his view of culture in decline is not borne out by modern readers and their eclectic reading habits. This book would prove useful in reading groups or for anyone who wants a beginners' guide to what is worth reading. (Kirkus UK)show more

Review quote

'How to Read and Why... is sensationally alert to the joys of reading; and practically every page has some useful insight, some energising challenge.' INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY 'It would be possible to fill a review of Bloom's work with his own phrases, so prodical is he of insight... he is never less than memorable.' THE TIMES 'Bloom's love of great literature is contagious. It sent me off anew to Proust, to Flannery O'Connor, to Italo Calvino; and for the first time to many others.' GUARDIAN '...there is a very great deal of profit and enjoyment to be had from these pages" FINANCIAL TIMES 'Bloom is the kind of infuriating, eccentric and ultimately inspiring teacher that we all need. If you want a survey course of the best reading around start here.' SUNDAY HERALDshow more

About Prof. Harold Bloom

Described in the New York Times as ' a colossus among critics ... [with] an encyclopedic intellect, exuberant eccentricity, a massive love of literature. The legend of his genius spans four decades' , Harold Bloom was born to a Yiddish-speaking family and learnt to speak English by reading the works of William Blake. He studied at Cornell, Pembroke College, Cambridge and Yale, and is Professor of Humanities at Yale and Professor of English at New York Universities, a regular contributor to literary journals and the recipient of many prizes and more

Rating details

2,075 ratings
3.59 out of 5 stars
5 19% (400)
4 38% (790)
3 29% (607)
2 10% (210)
1 3% (68)
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