Reading for My Life : Writings, 1958-2008

by John Leonard

Hardcover, 2012




New York : Viking, 2012.


"Reading for My Life is a monumenal collection of Leonard's most significant writings--spanning five decades--from his earliest columns for the Harvard Crimson to his final essays for the New York Review of Books."--Jacket.

Media reviews

He would typically have read everything by the author under review; his critical method was not so much to dissect the book or build a systematic argument, but to surround it with a dense inventory of fondly, sometimes mockingly paraphrased plot details and quotes, so that a reader could imbibe its ambience... You either like this sort of criticism or you don’t. Actually, I’m mixed. I like the bravura verbal effects (“angels in the meatloaf”!), the playful wit when he’s on a roll, the range of references, the throwaway insights. But I also get tired of the careening, cumulative lists; I yearn for a more straightforward or prioritized analysis. And sometimes Leonard’s prose preens too much and comes off as cute or glib.

User reviews

LibraryThing member ljhliesl
I read two of the last essays, on Yiddish Policeman's Union and Year of Magical Thinking, because those discussed books I have read. My library stack is enormous right now, and he has to wait.
LibraryThing member jphamilton
This is an excellent collection of essays and reviews. Sure, I had seen him on CBS Sunday Morning and had read his work seemingly everywhere for years, but once you sit down and read a collection of his gems, one realizes just how good he was.



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