Reading Life: Books for the Ages

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Graywolf Press, Apr 3, 2007 - Literary Criticism - 256 pages
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A new, compelling collection of essays by Sven Birkerts, "one of America's most distinguished, eloquent servants of the poetry and fiction that matter" (Susan Sontag)

Reading, the mind's traffic in signs and signifiers, is the most dynamic, changeful, and possibly transformational act we can imagine. To have read a work and have been strongly affected by it—and then to come back to it after many years—can be a foundation-shaking enterprise.

In Reading Life, virtuoso critic and essayist Sven Birkerts examines what it means to return to resonant works of fiction—the books one thinks of "covetously, as private properties," the "personal signposts" of one's inner life. For Birkerts, these include The Catcher in the Rye, Humboldt's Gift, To the Lighthouse, and Lolita. In twelve far-reaching and intimate essays, Birkerts reflects upon his first readings and what later encounters reveal about time, memory, and the murmuring transistors of selfhood.

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READING LIFE: Books for the Ages

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A literary critic (Readings, 1999, etc.) and professor (English/Harvard Univ.) revisits some novels he read years ago and finds in them both enduring beauty and a sometimes shifting resonance.Birkerts ... Read full review

Reading Life: Books for the Ages

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

In these 12 essays, noted essayist, reviewer, and editor Birkerts (The Gutenberg Elegies ) presents himself as the consummate reader. Through his active engagement with works like J.D. Salinger'sThe ... Read full review


The Reading Life
Childrens Crusade
Loves Wound Loves Salve

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About the author (2007)

Sven Birkerts is the author of Readings, The Gutenberg Elegies, and a memoir, My Sky Blue Trades. He teaches at Harvard University and at the Bennington Writing Seminars, and is the editor of Agni. He lives in Arlington, Massachusetts.

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