Mallison, Jane. Book Smart.

NY: McGraw-Hill, 2008.

Serious readers, of which I am definitely one, are always on the lookout for thoughtful recommendations of other books one should read. This volume is subtitled “Your Essential Reading List for Becoming a Literary Genius in 365 Days,” which is pure marketing hype and not really what the author proposes. Mallison isn’t a Ph.D. in literature or a big-time critic.

She’s just a very experienced English teacher and “a longtime passionate reader” who wants to share her opinions on some of the books she has enjoyed. She brings together 120 books and organizes them by calendar months (with a particular theme for each month), but she actually expects you to take five or ten years to work your way through them. (Good thing, too, or you’d be looking at reading Don Quixote, The Odyssey, The Aeneid, and Dante’s Inferno all during January.) There’s a pretty good mix here of genuine classics and much more recent works whose literary permanence is still undetermined.

I found I had read a little more than half her list (mostly the older ones) and there aren’t really any complaints I could make about what’s included or what isn’t. And she makes a better case for some titles in her concise two-page essays than for others, I think, but we don’t all share the same tastes in reading. You should find a number of additions here for your “To Read” list, and you will also have a pretty good notion of why you ought to attempt them.

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Published in: on 9 December 2016 at 3:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

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