A Feeling for Books: The Book-of-the-Month Club, Literary Taste, and Middle-class Desire

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University of North Carolina Press, 1997 - Literary Criticism - 424 pages
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Deftly melding ethnography, cultural history, literary criticism, and autobiographical reflection, A Feeling for Books is at once an engaging study of the Book-of-the-Month Club's influential role as a cultural institution and a profoundly personal meditation about the experience of reading. Janice Radway traces the history of the famous mail-order book club from its controversial founding in 1926 through its evolution into an enterprise uniquely successful in blending commerce and culture. Framing her historical narrative with writing of a more personal sort, Radway reflects on the contemporary role of the Book-of-the-Month Club in American cultural history and in her own life. Her detailed account of the standards and practices employed by the club's in-house editors is also an absorbing story of her interactions with those editors. Examining her experiences as a fourteen-year-old reader of the club's selections and, later, as a professor of literature, she offers a series of rigorously analytical yet deeply personal readings of such beloved novels as Marjorie Morningstar and To Kill a Mockingbird. Rich and rewarding, this book will captivate and delight anyone who is interested in the history of books and in the personal and transformative experience of reading.

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A FEELING FOR BOOKS: The Book-of-the-Month Club, Literary Taste, and Middle-Class Desire

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A virtual self-parody of obfuscation and solipsism in cultural studies. Radway (Literature/Duke Univ.) writes that she has spent much of her career mulling ``the distance I had travelled between a ... Read full review


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About the author (1997)

Janice A. Radway is Walter Dill Scott Professor of Communication and professor of American studies and gender studies at Northwestern University and author of Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature.

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