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The Art of Reading

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We are not born readers, we learn to turn words into worlds. But why is fine writing lauded while excellent reading is ignored? In The Art of Reading, philosopher Damon Young reveals the pleasures of this intimate pursuit through a rich sample of literature: from Virginia Woolf's diaries to Batman comics. He writes with honesty and humour about the blunders and revelations We are not born readers, we learn to turn words into worlds. But why is fine writing lauded while excellent reading is ignored? In The Art of Reading, philosopher Damon Young reveals the pleasures of this intimate pursuit through a rich sample of literature: from Virginia Woolf's diaries to Batman comics. He writes with honesty and humour about the blunders and revelations of his own bookish life. Devoting each chapter to a literary virtue—curiosity, patience, courage, pride, temperance, justice—The Art of Reading celebrates the reader's power: to turn shapes on a page into a lifelong adventure.


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We are not born readers, we learn to turn words into worlds. But why is fine writing lauded while excellent reading is ignored? In The Art of Reading, philosopher Damon Young reveals the pleasures of this intimate pursuit through a rich sample of literature: from Virginia Woolf's diaries to Batman comics. He writes with honesty and humour about the blunders and revelations We are not born readers, we learn to turn words into worlds. But why is fine writing lauded while excellent reading is ignored? In The Art of Reading, philosopher Damon Young reveals the pleasures of this intimate pursuit through a rich sample of literature: from Virginia Woolf's diaries to Batman comics. He writes with honesty and humour about the blunders and revelations of his own bookish life. Devoting each chapter to a literary virtue—curiosity, patience, courage, pride, temperance, justice—The Art of Reading celebrates the reader's power: to turn shapes on a page into a lifelong adventure.

30 review for The Art of Reading

  1. 4 out of 5

    Simon Robs

    Epilogue, sort of : So how's 'bout a nice example of reader, in this case a professional (scholar/writer/journalist) doing due diligence and/or detecting, just as amateur lit/sleuth (I'm thinking Fio. here) can too when tuned to artful reading, ferreting out a possible linkage from an American classic. I say Watson, come have a look at this! http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-... http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2017/... (read the last paragraph in particular as it relates to artful reading.) Read Epilogue, sort of : So how's 'bout a nice example of reader, in this case a professional (scholar/writer/journalist) doing due diligence and/or detecting, just as amateur lit/sleuth (I'm thinking Fio. here) can too when tuned to artful reading, ferreting out a possible linkage from an American classic. I say Watson, come have a look at this! http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-... http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2017/... (read the last paragraph in particular as it relates to artful reading.) Readers read, but how they read [what, why, when, where] often differs considerably, “The Art of Reading” sets out to both look at the act/art of reading through examples dating back to pre-Socratics and based on Aristotelian virtues (6 selected) and to refine a personal framework for cohesive reading satisfaction going forward. It is a small/short volume but it delivers some store elephants wrapped in neatly thought out scholasticism. “The Lumber Room” (the final chapter) is a worthy bibliography. Most notably though, for someone like me, whose own reading while vigorous, is still evolving and often capricious, a benefiting from guiding nudges of these [and other readers’] insights. Yet there is an onus put upon us/reader as participant to foster equanimity in this relationship with author/text I find most interesting of all – to grow in one’s awareness as to what was intended and what was achieved in a given text – how and why it fits into our own reading agenda. “The proud reader takes pleasure, not in mere cleverness, but in the traditions that support reflection and speculation in the first place – the inheritance we invest every time we read. Readers, like texts, also have histories.” Virginia Woolf Nietzsche’s autobiography “Ecce Homo” contains a portrait of the ideal reader, ‘a monster of courage and curiosity … supple, cunning, cautious, a born adventurer and discoverer.’ “.. readers emit their opinions into the atmosphere of words, which are inhaled by authors. The writers may not see this breath, but it is inside them – it ‘tells upon them’ … ‘even if it never finds its way into print’. Virginia Woolf in “How Should One Read a Book” – The reader, she argued, is the writer’s comrade and collaborator.”

  2. 4 out of 5

    Leah Rachel von Essen

    Philosophy and critical analysis of the reader-writer relationship often don't drift too far apart, and I imagine Young saw them as similar. For me, the more philosophical approach of this text was slightly disappointing as I wrote my thesis on the reader-writer relationship in literature and was hoping this would be along those lines, but I was willing to go with it. I enjoyed some of Young's points about the way we approach reading. He saw our approach through the lens of several virtues of re Philosophy and critical analysis of the reader-writer relationship often don't drift too far apart, and I imagine Young saw them as similar. For me, the more philosophical approach of this text was slightly disappointing as I wrote my thesis on the reader-writer relationship in literature and was hoping this would be along those lines, but I was willing to go with it. I enjoyed some of Young's points about the way we approach reading. He saw our approach through the lens of several virtues of reading, such as curiosity. However, I found many of his ideas pretentious and self-indulgent. Each chapter was only loosely structured, and I sometimes struggled to follow his meaning or conclusions because he would enter tangents if and when it suited him to make a point. Many of the conclusions I did settle on didn't necessarily follow from his arguments. The idea, for example, that Virginia Woolf quite unfairly disliked Ulysses but correctly later came around on Joyce missed several nuances and seemed rather biased, and also seemed like a lost opportunity to talk about Woolf's work—if we're talking about biases that keep people from reading and how we should be open to new works, couldn't we have discussed women and POC in publishing instead of a woman's attitude towards a man's writing? Ultimately, disappointing.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (JC-S)

    ‘To my right is a small stained pine bookcase. It contains, among other things, my childhood.’ In this thoughtful book, Damon Young, Honorary Fellow in Philosophy at the University of Melbourne, looks at the power of readers to transform words into worlds. Yes, it should be obvious that writing is only the first step of the process: without readers, writing is meaningless. But why does reading become pleasurable for some of us, and not for others? How can two people read the same book, and form e ‘To my right is a small stained pine bookcase. It contains, among other things, my childhood.’ In this thoughtful book, Damon Young, Honorary Fellow in Philosophy at the University of Melbourne, looks at the power of readers to transform words into worlds. Yes, it should be obvious that writing is only the first step of the process: without readers, writing is meaningless. But why does reading become pleasurable for some of us, and not for others? How can two people read the same book, and form entirely different opinions of it? Visualisation and interpretation are clearly unique to each individual. How will Damon Young’s experience of reading be of value to another reader? Mr Young has identified six literary virtues, based on Aristotle’s theory of virtue: curiosity, patience, courage, pride, temperance and justice and devotes a chapter to each. While each chapter is deceptively easy to read and understand, I need to reread some of the chapters in order to do Mr Young’s thoughts justice. I’m not good at practicing temperance when it comes to reading. This is one of the virtues I need to practice. ‘Reading requires some quantum of autonomy: no-one compels me to envisage their words.’ This is not a long book, and it is possible to read it in one sitting. But I think that doing so rather defeats the purpose. Better to read a chapter a day, and think about it both consciously and subconsciously. Reading this book has prompted me to think about my own reading habits, about why I choose to read particular books and avoid some others. It’s also made me think that continuing to read some books (just because I’ve started them and have difficulty not finishing everything I start) is not, perhaps, the best use of the balance of my reading life. Of course, I take great comfort from the following quote, and know that my bibliophile friends will as well: ‘Studies suggest that a lifetime’s reading, along with company and exercise, can lessen dementia risk.’ Yes, reading is both an acquired skill and an art. I would be lost without it. Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Melbourne University Publishing for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes. Jennifer Cameron-Smith

  4. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    I saw Damon Young speak at an International Book Festival event on the importance of libraries last summer. He was an articulate and interesting speaker, so obviously I wanted to get his book out of the library. As I was clearly not the only person with that idea, it’s taken nearly six months to get hold of it. In structure and content, the book is similar to Alberto Manguel’s reflections on reading, although Young has his own distinctive style. I liked said style, albeit not as much as my belov I saw Damon Young speak at an International Book Festival event on the importance of libraries last summer. He was an articulate and interesting speaker, so obviously I wanted to get his book out of the library. As I was clearly not the only person with that idea, it’s taken nearly six months to get hold of it. In structure and content, the book is similar to Alberto Manguel’s reflections on reading, although Young has his own distinctive style. I liked said style, albeit not as much as my beloved Manguel (my favourite author of books-about-books). ‘The Art of Reading’ is more febrile, less measured, and not as empathetic as Manguel’s books. Young explains the virtues he feels readers should seek to exercise while reading: curiosity, patience, courage, pride, temperance, and justice. Amid a scatter of references ranging from Dan Brown and Batman comics to Schopenhauer and Borges, he makes some rather lovely comments on the experience of reading. This one stood out: The idea is not to pass down the final judgement on Plato, Kazantzakis, Pascal, or any other author. There is no such assessment. This debate simply promotes the critic’s pride: a willingness to recognise the best in a text, without turning it into a hallowed relic or infallible commandment. Ironically, this pride arises from an awareness of smallness and transience. For Whitehead, we are tiny parts of a dynamic whole; only brief confluences of energy in an enormous universe. To see literary works as fallible is to recognise our own errors, ambiguities, and vicissitudes. We reflect proudly on writings, sacred or profane, precisely because we do not have a God’s-eye view; because pronouncements of perfection are always flawed. Pride can be the pleasure we take in thinking ambitiously about our own humble finitude. I was less sympathetic to his self-condemnation for chain-reading Star Trek spinoff novels. In my view, not all reading needs to be for higher purposes. At times, it can merely comfort you with undemanding escapism when the world seems chaotic and exhausting. (I find fanfiction well-suited to this purpose.) Not that reading cannot be challenging and comforting, but a fun diversion has its place too. Young’s scorn of Dan Brown novels seemed more justified, as their clunky writing style seems like it would impede diversion. Not that I haven’t read a bunch of Laurell K Hamilton novels for their unintentional hilarity. Clearly I have far to go in order to become a virtuous reader! While I appreciated the six virtues while reading about them, I’m not inclined to change my reading behaviour in order to cultivate them. I have no particular desire to read Henry James or Heidigger. (When another philosopher, Blaise Pascal, was mentioned, I wondered where I’d read that name recently. Then recalled it was in The Will to Battle, in which a character is cruelly tortured by having to hear Pascal read aloud!) I could be persuaded to try Proust, though, or read another of Young's books.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Samir Rawas Sarayji

    There's much to like here - literature, philosophy and Young's personal perspectives. I especially like his writing style and his ability to discuss complex ideas or observations in an accessible style. Despite the range of topics and ideas discussed, I never once felt Young was pretentious. However, there are also some aspects that I didn't enjoy. I picked up this book in the literature section of the library on a whim and had no idea of Young's background as a philosopher, so when the book star There's much to like here - literature, philosophy and Young's personal perspectives. I especially like his writing style and his ability to discuss complex ideas or observations in an accessible style. Despite the range of topics and ideas discussed, I never once felt Young was pretentious. However, there are also some aspects that I didn't enjoy. I picked up this book in the literature section of the library on a whim and had no idea of Young's background as a philosopher, so when the book started out discussing the art of reading and literature, I was hooked. But slowly and increasingly, the book veers off to philosophy and I wondered why it wasn't tilted 'The Art of Reading Philosophy'? Despite learning new things about philosophy, it's not what I wanted to read. And the chapter on theology was completely unnecessary and out of context with the rest of the book. Then there's the problem of the very white writers whose literary fiction is discussed, mostly the modernist movement. Nothing wrong with that of course, but it immediately feels dated in a time where world literature is finally taking the spot in deserves on the world stage. I also found some chapters to be less focused, where it read more like an overview of rebuttals between writers or philosophers, rather that the tighter-focused chapters where Young's views and ideas come into play.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tori

    This was a pretentious, overly self-indulgent take on reading. He spends the majority of the book quoting famous philosophers, authors, and literary critics without any real, personal insight or thought from himself. Sentences are flowered with useless, archaic terminology, such as: "Commenters devote days to communal harrumph, rather than studying the best of their adversaries' ideas." Although I do agree with one thing he said (even though he didn't say it and yet again, he's quoting someone else This was a pretentious, overly self-indulgent take on reading. He spends the majority of the book quoting famous philosophers, authors, and literary critics without any real, personal insight or thought from himself. Sentences are flowered with useless, archaic terminology, such as: "Commenters devote days to communal harrumph, rather than studying the best of their adversaries' ideas." Although I do agree with one thing he said (even though he didn't say it and yet again, he's quoting someone else to support his own supposed thoughts), "...Schopenhauer also warned against terrible literature. We are mortals...and there are only so many days left; why squander hours?" Don't squander your hours by reading this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Blair

    This is Alain de Botton territory. I found it rather underwhelming.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Diane Challenor

    So much of this book was above my head. Some of the time, I found myself skimming over pages, until I reached parts that had meaning for me. That said, I'm sure other readers, with a much wider and more in-depth reading experience than I, will enjoy the book. The author's knowledge brings together a reading experience that many of us will never come close to and will only be able to admire from a distance. I finished the book because I knew I would glean a few gems that would satisfy my curiosit So much of this book was above my head. Some of the time, I found myself skimming over pages, until I reached parts that had meaning for me. That said, I'm sure other readers, with a much wider and more in-depth reading experience than I, will enjoy the book. The author's knowledge brings together a reading experience that many of us will never come close to and will only be able to admire from a distance. I finished the book because I knew I would glean a few gems that would satisfy my curiosity.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mugren Ohaly

    I don’t know what to make of this. Most of it is just passages written by various people that are meant to prove the author’s point which is never explicitly revealed. Also, I got the feeling that the author was smug and probably laughs at his own humor which is childish and not at all creative.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jakob

    Young, a philosopher by trade, wants to explore what good reading is. He has structured the book around Aristotle's taxonomy of the virtues. Young uses this taxonomy to explore how these virtues need to be cultivated by the reader if they want to read well – read with curiosity, patience, courage and temperance and so on – and also, I suppose, how reading might help us cultivate such virtues as well. He draws on a wide range of literature to furnish this tour – everything from Borges to Batman, H Young, a philosopher by trade, wants to explore what good reading is. He has structured the book around Aristotle's taxonomy of the virtues. Young uses this taxonomy to explore how these virtues need to be cultivated by the reader if they want to read well – read with curiosity, patience, courage and temperance and so on – and also, I suppose, how reading might help us cultivate such virtues as well. He draws on a wide range of literature to furnish this tour – everything from Borges to Batman, Heidegger to (Sherlock) Holmes, Nabokov to Ninja warriors and Plato to Proust. As far as its structure and unity of concept goes, it felt rather tangential and loose to me. As if Young has set himself a list of authors, books and ideas he wants to visit on the journey, and then proceeds to casually go through the motions to connect these dots in a way that felt a bit strained and inorganic. But as a tour of a wide range of readings and some discussion of several literary minds' thoughts about reading, it works well enough.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I've done two posts about this book on my blog, a Sensational Snippet https://anzlitlovers.com/2016/04/30/s... and a reflection on the chapter about Patience. https://anzlitlovers.com/2016/05/01/o... I've done two posts about this book on my blog, a Sensational Snippet https://anzlitlovers.com/2016/04/30/s... and a reflection on the chapter about Patience. https://anzlitlovers.com/2016/05/01/o...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This book seemed interesting but I found it dull. I got to page 30 and gave up.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alex Tongue

    A lovely little book! Finished it over lunch and couldn't wait to reflect on it. When I was a boy, I read all the dang time. I didn't have many friends, and I was really shy about making new ones (which may shock people who know me well). I spent a lot of time alone as a child. I'd disappear for hours, lost in my bookshelf. Probably around 4th grade, my mom figured out that sending me to my room with all my books wasn't really a punishment, so one time she took out all the books from my room and A lovely little book! Finished it over lunch and couldn't wait to reflect on it. When I was a boy, I read all the dang time. I didn't have many friends, and I was really shy about making new ones (which may shock people who know me well). I spent a lot of time alone as a child. I'd disappear for hours, lost in my bookshelf. Probably around 4th grade, my mom figured out that sending me to my room with all my books wasn't really a punishment, so one time she took out all the books from my room and made me sit there, bored. I say this because for all of my childhood and adolescence, I was a voracious and adventurous reader. Many of the lessons this book gives I learned either consciously or unconsciously. I learned that even though I may have the capacity to read a difficult book, I may not be able to enjoy or appreciate it, as I found out with my first literary defeat, the Last of the Mohicans. I learned how to be curious in middle school, where I would learn about an author or genre of books and attempt to read as much as I could. I learned in middle school that works can be engaged and interpreted. I learned patient reading in high school with Thoreau's Walden and Kierkegaard's Sickness Unto Death. Some of these lessons I've only begun to learn - perhaps because in some ways, my reading dropped off in my twenties. Yes, I still read a lot, but not always with the same tenacity and joy. I find myself reading less and less fiction and more and more philosophy, but as Deleuze (ha!) would say, just encountering philosophical modes of thinking and writing gives an incomplete view of thought as well as a frankly incomplete frame of experience. Art has the power to transform using the ideas of philosophy. I did learn in recent years what the book calls "courageous reading." I learned how to read works from people I disagreed with (and even found their ideas harmful, as in Schmitt's disgusting Concept of the Political), and it taught me how to properly critically engage works in a way I hadn't before. This book reignited some of my older love for reading. It's made me reconsider some of my habits; I decided to remove the reading challenge from my profile because I want to give the works I read justice they (and their authors) are due. I want to be able to stop a book I find not worth my time, but also to be able to dig in without feeling rushed. Books aren't things to consume, as the Art of Reading suggests. Temperance (another virtue Young extols) is required. The book wonderfully succeeds because for this reader it accomplishes the very thing it praises Nietzsche and Woolf for: it made me think about things and reconsider myself. How can I be a better reader? What works will move me? What works are out there? Should I actually quit being a coward and just freaking read Proust? Idk, but now I wanna eat a madeleine.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Julianne

    I finally finished this tiny book because it was due at the library and I couldn't renew it any more. (I think the librarians must get nervous after you've had a volume in your possession for nine weeks?). If that doesn't tell you something about my opinion of this book, well... Keep reading, I guess? Before I get into my review, though, I should clarify something: this is a philosophical work, and philosophy is not my best genre. It's a little like hip-hop (stay with me), which I try REALLY HARD I finally finished this tiny book because it was due at the library and I couldn't renew it any more. (I think the librarians must get nervous after you've had a volume in your possession for nine weeks?). If that doesn't tell you something about my opinion of this book, well... Keep reading, I guess? Before I get into my review, though, I should clarify something: this is a philosophical work, and philosophy is not my best genre. It's a little like hip-hop (stay with me), which I try REALLY HARD to like because all the cool kids are into it. Okay, maybe the cool kids aren't into philosophy, but it's a similar phenomenon for me. For some reason, I always walk away from the experience disheartened and a little disoriented. After all, I'm someone who LOVES music- so why can't I like an uber-popular genre? And I like to think of myself as the type of person who is thoughtful and intelligent enough to thoroughly enjoy a work of philosophy, but so far I haven't found the secret formula to help me spurn Billy Joel and cosy mysteries in favor of Drake and philosophy. (What a combo!) So, when I saw this book at the library, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to dip my feet into philosophical waters again, since it also belongs to a genre that I happen to adore: books about books. I picked it up and was immediately enthralled with his phrasing, his learned references, and the fact that he was talking about Sherlock Holmes and Batman in the same chapter. Lest you think I was charmed all through the book, I'll have you know that my feelings on this book ran the gamut. And now, I am about to disregard all the advice he gave in the book and tell you about my FEELINGS during the 9-week experience of alternately reading it and avoiding reading it. Stage 1) "I AM SO INTELLIGENT. Look at me LOVING a book about philosophy! I'm learning so much! I'm loving every minute!" 2) "Umm so I'm not really sure what conclusion he wants me to draw from that chapter but okay." 3) "I'm starting to get overwhelmed by all these references to books and authors I've never heard of. This might be more enjoyable if I were actually into philosophy in the regular." This stage is pretty common for me whenever I read this genre, which is what encourages me to keep trying. 4) *accidentally* misplaced book and focuses on more enjoyable reads. 5) *renews first time.* "I WILL read this!" 6) *two weeks later, actually picks it up* "Wait, woah, this is kind of anti-Christian. Not sure I like that he's been liberally quoting Aquinas and Augustine while secretly judging their religious beliefs. So, like, it's okay to pick the parts of an author's work that you like and discard the heart of their teachings? " Full disclosure: I've never even READ either of these great thinkers, so I acknowledge that the author of this book is light-years ahead of me as far as knowledge of their texts goes, since he's studied them carefully. But I'm still huffy about it. 7) *puts book on shelf for a few days as punishment to the author for disagreeing with me on the subject of Christianity* 8) *Book is due again.* *Considers returning it, then decides to renew and persevere because GOODREADS CHALLENGE BABY.* 9) "He does write beautifully." *happy sigh* 10) *Encounters slightly dirty joke.* *Keeps reading without batting an eye because we must sacrifice for Goodreads sometimes* 11) "Erg these learned references are annoying. Why are philosophy people always so much smarter than me?" <- Also a very common sentiment for me while reading this genre, which is what encourages me to not try reading it too often. 12) "I LOVE that he's advocating quality reading, though! It's so important." 13) *Encounters second slightly dirty joke* "okayyyyyy then..." 14) *notices back cover says this is the perfect book for the voracious readers in your life.* "NOT IN MY LIFE. The voracious readers in my life would be alternately bored and appalled." 15) *finishes book* *feels relieved* 16) *re-reads a random page* "His word skills tho..." So, in summary, I am not well-qualified to judge this work as a whole. Not did I really come to it with the right attitude (I wanted to like it in order to make myself feel smarter). There were moments where I loved it, but plenty of moments where I really didn't. Three stars it is. (Also, if anyone wants to recommend a good hip-hop song or philosophical work for beginners, I'd be forever grateful.)

  15. 5 out of 5

    TRS

    I believe there is value in this book, of course and recognize the author's intellect for sure. However, what made me put it down was that it was more of a philosophy of reading than a study of literature as I was hoping for. That's more subjective but objectively the reason I couldn't give this a higher rating was because, despite the author's nice prose, the wording was a bit of a chore to interpret. For example the sentence: "Each [Batman/superhero] story is its own version of an adaptation th I believe there is value in this book, of course and recognize the author's intellect for sure. However, what made me put it down was that it was more of a philosophy of reading than a study of literature as I was hoping for. That's more subjective but objectively the reason I couldn't give this a higher rating was because, despite the author's nice prose, the wording was a bit of a chore to interpret. For example the sentence: "Each [Batman/superhero] story is its own version of an adaptation that is composed of nothing more than adaptations: authenticity is born of versimilitude, not primordial essence." After re-readingthe previous context to decipher it, I came to the conclusion that he meant to say "No hero stories are truly original and all such stories that come after them will be truly original either because they all draw from a pool of common themes. It seems true and original unto itself because of how the writer breathes life into it and draws us into the story--not because it is actually a literary genesis." That's the best I could do, and perhaps I'm wrong, but I found many passages where I couldn't quite grasp the point or translate his words into words I thought more suitable. Maybe it's just not compatible with my way of thinking or parsing but I found this part of it a bit too tedious. I enjoyed what I read overall, though!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    (2.5) “Without a reader, the text is a stream of sensations: dark and light shapes. … Reading is always a meeting of two liberties: the artist’s and the audience’s.” I was hoping for more personal anecdote rather than philosophy and literary theory. I found this dense and a bit dull compared to the other book I’ve read from Young, How to Think about Exercise. (2.5) “Without a reader, the text is a stream of sensations: dark and light shapes. … Reading is always a meeting of two liberties: the artist’s and the audience’s.” I was hoping for more personal anecdote rather than philosophy and literary theory. I found this dense and a bit dull compared to the other book I’ve read from Young, How to Think about Exercise.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tasnia Ahmad

    An incredible read! Non- fiction has never been so touching, I would recommend to all and state, without doubt this a favourite of mine! 😊

  18. 4 out of 5

    Aidan Reid

    Started brightly but in the end was just too dense.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Y.S. Stephen

    Writing a book has many gains. You have the title of an "author", people respect you somewhat and that opens doors of opportunity. Aside from personal benefits, there is no celebrity status attached to reading. It does not matter how voracious or well-read you are. No one cares. According to Damon Young, author of The Art of Reading: "Despite civilisation’s glut of signs, the virtues of reading are rarely celebrated. Reading well is treated as a rudimentary skill, not a lifelong ambition; not a Writing a book has many gains. You have the title of an "author", people respect you somewhat and that opens doors of opportunity. Aside from personal benefits, there is no celebrity status attached to reading. It does not matter how voracious or well-read you are. No one cares. According to Damon Young, author of The Art of Reading: "Despite civilisation’s glut of signs, the virtues of reading are rarely celebrated. Reading well is treated as a rudimentary skill, not a lifelong ambition; not a creative talent to tenaciously enrich and enhance. This contrasts with the popular writing industry: degrees, short courses, workshops, masterclasses, centres, festival panels... Many promise not only technical know-how, but also tricks for convincing editors to publish and audiences to buy." The information age has made everyone writers of some sort. Most of us want to get our ideas out there and be published by any means. Through the use of blogs and social media, we shout and scream at one another in other to get heard. However, a lot of people wanting to write books hardly have time to read them. Damon Young writes: "One survey reported that, in the United States, eight out of ten people wanted to write a book—a startling figure, even if only half right. Yet for all their hankering after authorial identity, many are not bibliophiles. The Pew Research Center found that a quarter of Americans had not read a book in the previous year. As writer and translator Tim Parks noted, authorship has become a glamorous professional persona, rather than a craft." This mad quest for authorship is evident for those who love to read. Many 200-page-book contains only 20 worth reading, the rest are rambles and fluff-talk. Sometimes it is plain to see that no love or joy is poured out on the pages, but ambition, haste, and cynicism. This does not bode well for the world of literature as a whole. It is essential that we respect the craft of writing for what it can do for us and others. But we must never forget that reading as a skill has the ability to elevate writing as well as enrich and enhance our lives. To read more about the benefits of reading and how to get better at it, check out the Art of Reading by Damon Young. Many thanks to Scribe US for review copy.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Laura Tran

    I think this book is exquisitely written and very comprehensive on the handful of qualities that Young thought to be included in the art and philosophy of reading. This book is meant for reflection-- I see myself reflecting on the books I have read and have yet to read as Young narrates his own journey in reading. He helped me realise and awaken some of my own thoughts and feelings about certain books that I previously couldn't quite put my finger on. I became a more conscious, curious, courageo I think this book is exquisitely written and very comprehensive on the handful of qualities that Young thought to be included in the art and philosophy of reading. This book is meant for reflection-- I see myself reflecting on the books I have read and have yet to read as Young narrates his own journey in reading. He helped me realise and awaken some of my own thoughts and feelings about certain books that I previously couldn't quite put my finger on. I became a more conscious, curious, courageous, patient, temperamental, critical, and just reader by the end of it. Of course these qualities that Young discussed in the book is not an exhaustive list, and they are no where near the end to the art of reading. But it is a good foundation for myself to be a stable, aware, knowledgeable, and curious reader, and a great start to become better.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shatterlings

    This isn't really the type of book I normally read but I read an interview with him in a magazine and it sounded interesting but this isn't the book I wanted. I would have liked far more about his personal reading experiences and less highbrow philosophy. I would enjoy a coffee with Damon but would be rolling my eyes every time he started talking philosophy. This isn't really the type of book I normally read but I read an interview with him in a magazine and it sounded interesting but this isn't the book I wanted. I would have liked far more about his personal reading experiences and less highbrow philosophy. I would enjoy a coffee with Damon but would be rolling my eyes every time he started talking philosophy.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    “He laid his hand under her left armpit, whereupon his vitals and her vitals yearned for coition.” —RB The universe is never spied as a naked fact. “Haste is universal because everyone is in flight from himself.” —FN

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rachael

    2.5 stars - I may have ended up skimming it a little towards the end... which is probably a tad ironic given its chapters on patience etc when reading... But it was a neat little book, and it holds plenty of recommendations for philosophers' works on reading and literature. 2.5 stars - I may have ended up skimming it a little towards the end... which is probably a tad ironic given its chapters on patience etc when reading... But it was a neat little book, and it holds plenty of recommendations for philosophers' works on reading and literature.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review First, I need to babble about the cover of this book for a bit. Look how cute it is! It's simple but effective and just screams 'reader'. I'm not a huge fan of green, but this is probably one of my most favourite book covers in recent times. Two enthusiastic thumbs up to the cover designer. And now for the inside. I won't lie, I did get a little bit lost in some parts and that prompts me to say that this is a book that needs mor I received a copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review First, I need to babble about the cover of this book for a bit. Look how cute it is! It's simple but effective and just screams 'reader'. I'm not a huge fan of green, but this is probably one of my most favourite book covers in recent times. Two enthusiastic thumbs up to the cover designer. And now for the inside. I won't lie, I did get a little bit lost in some parts and that prompts me to say that this is a book that needs more than one reading before you'll take away everything you need from it. This book is the personal reading journey of one person, so it's important to go into this book with an open mind; be prepared to disagree with things but also to learn. It was a quick and enlightening read, and can easily be finished in one sitting (with a nap part way through if you're me). But I'd recommend reading it with breaks between chapters so you can digest everything properly. The literary virtues - curiosity, patience, courage, pride, temperance, and justice - that Damon Young writes about, are based on Aristotle's theory of virtue, and are those that help us not just to read, but read well. Some virtues are inherent in us, others we have to work at. Others still are inherent in us but not necessarily in a good way, as demonstrated to me by the chapter about 'Patience'. I've always considered myself a patient reader - I'll stick out just about anything and pride myself on the fact that I have few books that I mark as 'DNF'. In fact, the last time I DNF'd a book would have been about 10 years ago. Since I started blogging about books I've thought this was a good thing, because how can I form a proper opinion if I don't read the whole thing? But! The Art of Reading has led me to the conclusion that my inability to DNF is more of a forced habit in me than it is a virtue. The Art of Reading also highlighted to me how reading to many people is just another thing that we have the ability to do and which most of us take for granted: "[T]he virtues of reading are rarely celebrated. Reading well is treated as a rudimentary skill, not a lifelong ambition; not a creative talent to tenaciously enrich and enhance. This contrasts with the popular writing industry: degrees, short courses, workshops, masterclasses, centres, festival panels. Newspapers and magazines run 'how-to' pages..." (Loc 263) But without readers, all those workshop attendees would have no audience. Just some food for thought. While not a 'how-to guide' (because readers don't have those, remember?), The Art of Reading is a good place to start if you want to examine your reading habits on a different level and become a better reader. That's not to say that we shouldn't ever read purely for pleasure, but I think it's especially important for book bloggers to read well. It's true that we will like what we like and hate what we hate, but if we're going to share our opinions about a book, we should make sure that we are being fair to it when forming and voicing that opinion. Reading really is an art - we paint/draw/scribble pictures in our mind as we read; I think that's pretty special. Even if you don't want to examine your reader self on a deeper level, you should still read The Art of Reading if only to remind yourself of how magical reading really is, and how vastly different the experience is from reader to reader.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Fabian

    Although my original review (see below in Dutch: 'can't be read, all those names all the time, al that bullshit about Batman, fuck it, done') is still accurate, I'm gonna add some more. In English. This is an awful book to read and - not knowing the author - the only impression I get is that the 'good reader' (this is the Dutch title) pertains to the author himself, as some sort of great treasurer of obscure literature, grand philosopher of pulp, and name-dropper extraordinaire. It does not enco Although my original review (see below in Dutch: 'can't be read, all those names all the time, al that bullshit about Batman, fuck it, done') is still accurate, I'm gonna add some more. In English. This is an awful book to read and - not knowing the author - the only impression I get is that the 'good reader' (this is the Dutch title) pertains to the author himself, as some sort of great treasurer of obscure literature, grand philosopher of pulp, and name-dropper extraordinaire. It does not encourage to read. It's a fucking love letter to himself. It's like a diary. "Oh I remember the good times when I read this Australian comic book as a kid that no one outside of Australia has ever heard of. Let me tell you all about it, but just not enough so you understand what it's about." So yeah, I gave it a second chance only to put it away after maybe ten pages. I have to say, it doesn't happen a lot that I can't swallow a book of 160 pages. But this, my god, it's given me indigestion. Original review: Het is niet te lezen. Al die namen almaar. En al dat gelul over Batman. Fuck it, gedaan.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joyful Mimi

    I basically liked and enjoyed this book especially his delineation of what is necessary for the “art” of reading: curiosity, patience, courage, pride, temperance, justice. However, even though it was a short book, it was too drawn out, in my opinion. He could have said things more succinctly. He seemed to be taking himself and this subject much too seriously. An essay probably would have been sufficient.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    3.5 stars. Browsing through the philosophy section in the library, I picked this one out probably almost entirely for its beautiful cover, and the minimalism it promised. And I though it would be something of a guide, a self-help book even, about how to start reading, and how to fall in love with it. I have been trying, you see, all year, to get into books again, after reminiscing woefully on my childhood bibliophilia. For I had become a screen addict, and found it hard to concentrate, and find 3.5 stars. Browsing through the philosophy section in the library, I picked this one out probably almost entirely for its beautiful cover, and the minimalism it promised. And I though it would be something of a guide, a self-help book even, about how to start reading, and how to fall in love with it. I have been trying, you see, all year, to get into books again, after reminiscing woefully on my childhood bibliophilia. For I had become a screen addict, and found it hard to concentrate, and find motivation when a passage grew long, often returning back to the comforts of reddit, youtube, or instagram. So I guess I also supposed it might contain a decent amount of technology and social media-shaming, which I needed. But there's so much of that out there. So even if this text wasn't what I thought, I still appreciated it for what it is. I enjoyed the bits of philosophy ingrained, the stories described, and the musings. And I actually got through it relatively easily, despite it being a non-fiction; which I have something of a childhood fear of. I didn't even lose focus that much. However, the book was not directed at me, a bibliophile-wannabe, and so it wasn't particularly impactful. I think it was well-written and has a lot of interesting ideas, but overall my reading experience was just...okay. It is loosely structured, and at points just felt like a lot of pointless rambling. It did motivate me a little bit, to read more, and in particular to read more meaningful works, as difficult as they may be. (Though, on the temperance chapter; I think that the Star Trek books were okay; we all need guilty pleasures at one point or another, and Star Trek books really aren't the worst substances out there. Just - as someone trying to get into reading, I try to just read what I like, and don't have as much reading-skill in me to be picky all the time. Anyhow. Decent read.)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Walsh

    The shelving suggestion on the back cover of The Art of Reading categorizes this book as a gift book or as belonging to the category of literature. The second category is completely appropriate. The first is puzzling. Gift books, in my experience, tend to be light reading; there is seldom a need to have a dictionary handy when reading them as there is this gift book. Two of the cover blurbs use the word "erudite," and that describes not only the content of the book but could also be used to qual The shelving suggestion on the back cover of The Art of Reading categorizes this book as a gift book or as belonging to the category of literature. The second category is completely appropriate. The first is puzzling. Gift books, in my experience, tend to be light reading; there is seldom a need to have a dictionary handy when reading them as there is this gift book. Two of the cover blurbs use the word "erudite," and that describes not only the content of the book but could also be used to qualify potential readers. I wish I had finished and paid better attention to all of the assigned reading in high school and college. I wish I had taken a class in philosophy. Either might have helped prepare me to grasp Damon Young's arguments on the first reading. His writing is clear enough, but it asks the reader to draw on prior knowledge that I simply do not have. The premise, though, is straightforward. The art of reading is empowered by disciplines that the reader must bring to each work: curiosity, patience, courage, pride, temperance, and justice. Young cites examples from literature, mostly twentieth- and twenti-first century works, of how these disciplines are applied. Some passages are surprisingly confessional. Consider this passage from the chapter on temperance: More than a third of the fiction archived on my tablet is from the _____ franchise. All purchased over eight months, and most deleted once finished. There was a criminal tidiness to this: cleaning up the scene of the crime. The transgression was not in the genre, but in my reading of it. Buying sequel after sequel, pausing for Earl Gray but not for thought, I felt addicted, and this habit was ugly to me. Through such writing Young reveals his own literary misdeeds and encourages his readers to admit theirs. Thoughtful and erudite readers will enjoy this book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ray

    “The Art of Reading” surprised me, and pleasantly so. I thought the first chapter set the tone very well and primed me to think of writing and reading as inherently biased acts, reflecting the thoughts of both parties in an act of cocreation. So, when Damon Young proceeded to make bold statements and call-out other authors (Dan Smith comes to mind), it all felt very consistent. I especially appreciated when Young lampshaded the fact that he was juxtaposing superhero stories with academic philoso “The Art of Reading” surprised me, and pleasantly so. I thought the first chapter set the tone very well and primed me to think of writing and reading as inherently biased acts, reflecting the thoughts of both parties in an act of cocreation. So, when Damon Young proceeded to make bold statements and call-out other authors (Dan Smith comes to mind), it all felt very consistent. I especially appreciated when Young lampshaded the fact that he was juxtaposing superhero stories with academic philosophy and literature to signal that he was above scholarly snobbery. Honestly, I read this book too early. I thought that it would contain easily digestible packets of practical reading tips. Thus, it seemed prudent to read this before the other books I want to look at this year. However, “The Art of Reading” is heavily embedded in philosophical tradition and academic conversation, and my experience was diluted by having insufficient prior scholarship. Perhaps I will return to it in a few years. Overall, this book is an interesting take on reading as an underexamined art form that approaches from the angle of multiple virtues. It’s syntheses are not always explicit or on the nose, but are a pleasure to discover. I’d recommend revisiting ones high school and university literature classics, and maybe a few graphic novels, before reading for the best experience.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Darlene

    A college reading level book on different aspects of the philosophy of reading, it was, at alternating times, both intensely interesting and interminably dense. Although the first half was more engaging, I got the feeling that the latter half was aimed at a more erudite audience. Likely this is due to two things: the materials being compared in these sections (how many people have really read ALL of J.Joyce''s Ulysses?), and the section on where he talks about pleasure reading done for escapism A college reading level book on different aspects of the philosophy of reading, it was, at alternating times, both intensely interesting and interminably dense. Although the first half was more engaging, I got the feeling that the latter half was aimed at a more erudite audience. Likely this is due to two things: the materials being compared in these sections (how many people have really read ALL of J.Joyce''s Ulysses?), and the section on where he talks about pleasure reading done for escapism as a negative. Considering how much of the average library's content would fit the bill of escapist literature, this viewpoint is a hard sell. That said, one of the best aspects of this book is the "Lumber Room" section--- an annotated bibliography of the items quoted in this book, and why they were chosen.Overall, I'd give this a 3.5 ⭐

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