"Information is endlessly available to us; where shall wisdom be found?" is the crucial question with which renowned literary critic Harold Bloom commences this impassioned book on the pleasures and benefits of reading well. For more than forty years, Bloom has transformed college students into lifelong readers with his unrivaled love for literature. Now, at a time when faster and easier electronic media threaten to eclipse the practice of reading, Bloom draws on his experience as critic, teacher, and prolific reader to plumb the great books for their sustaining wisdom. Shedding all polemic, Bloom addresses the solitary reader, who, he urges, should read for the purest of all reasons: to discover and augment the self. Always dazzling in his ability to draw connections between texts across continents and centuries, Bloom instructs readers in how to immerse themselves in the different literary forms. Probing discussions of the works of beloved writers such as William Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway, Jane Austen, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Charles Dickens, and William Faulkner highlight the varied challenges and delights found in short stories, poems, novels, and plays. Bloom not only provides illuminating guidance on how to read a text but also illustrates what such reading can bring--aesthetic pleasure, increased individuality and self-knowledge, and the lifetime companionship of the most engaging and complex literary characters. Bloom's engaging prose and brilliant insights will send you hurrying back to old favorites and entice you to discover new ones. His ultimate faith in the restorative power of literature resonates on every page of this infinitely rewarding and important book.
For the reasons listed above, I think this book merits a read to anyone who is curious about where or why to begin reading seriously. Whether in agreement or not, his suggestions will provide a good place to get started, and help in develop a critical eye toward reading and reviewing. I enjoyed the combination of familiar and unfamiliar authors, and quickly found my to-read list growing.
I had never read much in the way of short stories - always avoided them. After absorbing the opening section of this book, I had read collections by Turgenev, Chekhov, Hemingway and Flannery O'Connor. How can that be a bad thing?
Discovering the confusion over authorship was not what subsequently upset me, upset being an understatement. Like many other reviewers, I am simply angry about the deceptive title. How to read and why purports to be a book which might give some guidance on HOW to approach world-class literature, and discuss WHY literacy is of value. However, these questions are barely dealt with, other than an 8.5-page section consisting of the most obvious platitudes why reading is important.
Instead, the book consists of listings of all novels, story collections, poems, etc which the author deems essential reading. Some of his choices are questionable, and apparently made only upon his eminent authority as an expert.
This books just gets a two star because he did manage to wake up the interest for books I've intended to read for years but never gotten around too, but just two stars because of what I've written above.