Literary Criticism The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller | The Omnivore

Published on June 11th, 2014


The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life by Andy Miller

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Blurb: A working father whose life no longer feels like his own discovers the transforming powers of great (and downright terrible) literature in this laugh-out-loud memoir. Andy Miller had a job he quite liked, a family he loved and no time at all for reading. Or so he kept telling himself. But, no matter how busy or tired he was, something kept niggling at him. Books. Books he’d always wanted to read. Books he’d said he’d read, when he hadn’t. Books that whispered the promise of escape from the 6.44 to London. And so, with the turn of a page, began a year of reading that was to transform Andy’s life completely. This book is Andy’s inspirational and very funny account of his expedition through literature: classic, cult and everything in-between. Crack the spine of your unread ‘Middlemarch’, discover what ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and ‘Moby-Dick’ have in common (everything, surprisingly) and knock yourself out with a new-found enthusiasm for Tolstoy, Douglas Adams and ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’. ‘The Year of Reading Dangerously’ is a reader’s odyssey and it begins with opening this book…

(Fourth Estate, 2014)

Peter Conrad, The Observer 

“Miller’s year spent reading proved dangerous because it made him admit that he wanted and needed to write, so in the course of it he quit his job in publishing to work on this book. The books saved his life but put his livelihood at risk; nevertheless his gratuitous act turns out to be triumphantly justified. While extolling books written by others, he shows himself to be a valuably idiosyncratic writer, whose own book is like nothing else I have ever read – a combination of criticism and memoir that is astute, tender, funny and often wickedly ironic.”

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Iain Finlayson, The Times 

“…Miller is amiable, amusing, charming. His style, though he makes no mention of having read them, owes something in its love of footnotes, literary paraphernalia and ephemera to David Foster Wallace.”

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Christian House, The Telegraph 

“Miller’s irreverent delivery is often very funny… The book’s title and subtitle – “How 50 Great Books Saved My Life” – are self-evidently daft. Miller doesn’t need saving but as he cuts through his reading list, regaling us with his weary or incandescent responses along the way, we do get glimpses of a peculiarly English midlife crisis: he’s peeved about his commute from the South Coast and the constraints of his job as an editor for a London publishing company. This is High Fidelity for bookworms.”

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Claire Harman, The Guardian 

“Miller comes to the rather unbelievable conclusion that it actually does one good to finish a book, like a course of antibiotics. Pride and Prejudice was fine after all, and this, he suggests, is how the life-saving/changing effect kicked in, halting “an erosion of integrity”, no less. But the truth that emerges more powerfully is that great books achieve and maintain their status from widespread neglect.”

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