A Feeling for Books: The Book-of-the-Month Club, Literary Taste, and Middle-class Desire
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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abstract academic advertising aesthetic American appeared Atticus audience authority book clubs Book-of-the Book-of-the-Month Club editors Book-of-the-Month Club judges capital Charles Lee Christopher Morley Clifton Fadiman club's commercial committee commodities consumer continued critics cultural production desire developed discourse discussion distinct distribution Dorothy Canfield Dorothy Canfield Fisher evaluative experience expertise fact fiction Fisher function Harry Scherman Henry Canby Henry Seidel Canby Heywood Broun highly Ibid individual insisted intellectual interest Kill a Mockingbird knowledge labor literary field literature Little Leather Library machine main selection managed Marjorie Marjorie Morningstar mass material middlebrow culture modern Month Club nature noted novel objects observed of-the-Month Club offered operation organization particular pleasure potential professional Publishers Weekly publishing reader's report readers reading Savago seemed sell sense Silverman social specific standardization status story subscribers suggested taste thought tion titles universe Waldo Frank wanted William Zinsser writing Zinsser