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
3 Reviews
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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Review: A Feeling for Books: The Book-Of-The-Month Club, Literary Taste, and Middle-Class Desire

User Review  - David - Goodreads

This had a whole lot of essays that said a whole lot of nothing for pages and pages. Apparently, no one ever told these writers about getting to the point. Read full review

Review: A Feeling for Books: The Book-Of-The-Month Club, Literary Taste, and Middle-Class Desire

User Review  - Judine - Goodreads

Again, Radway is able to write theory in a way that makes sense. However, I would have liked to see her connect more to the middle section of the book like she does in parts one and three. The first person style makes for easier reading. Read full review


A Certain Book Club Culture
The Intelligent Generalist and the Uses of Reading
The Struggle over the Book 18701920

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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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