How to Become Ridiculously Well-Read in One Evening

Bought for £1.99 from Oxfam in Jesmond, Newcastle.

Bought for £1.99 from Oxfam in Jesmond, Newcastle.

Stef at So Many Books recently posted that she feels that the age you are when you read a book shouldn’t matter, but she finds it makes a difference for her. For example, ‘I think I would have felt differently about Clockwork Orange if I had read it as a teen.’

I can’t help reading her post and feeling that, as someone who used to read only horror fiction when I was younger, I might have looked for a shortcut to disguise my lack of reading. If I had, then I guess I’d have taken a peek at the entry for Clockwork Orange in How to Become Ridiculously Well-Read in One Evening. This book would hardly help you finish an overdue essay – it’s intended for light amusement among those already familiar with the authors and books included – but it could help the very unread to get the gist of other people’s literary conversations at parties. Some of these poems and short prose pieces convey their originals with accuracy. The two pieces that purport to be from Diary of a Nobody are exquisite, so much so that, re-reading them just now, I’m reminded to post something here about my recent discovery of the Grossmiths.

The editor has made some other decent selections too. Peter Norman’s limerick take on (the ironically hypocritical) sexual exploitation in The History Man is especially direct:

When a Marxist poseur, Howard Kirk –

Who, though smart, is a bit of a jerk –

A trifle imprudently

Screws a young student, she

Gets alpha-plus for her work

Interestingly, and on the subject of gender power-relations, the collection in this book does lack female authors. At least there’s better representation from the contributors. Following on from my post about indulgent books, this is one that I dip into from time to time. Worth a look if you come across one. Maybe there are similarly entertaining digests out there too?

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6 Responses to How to Become Ridiculously Well-Read in One Evening

  1. Stefanie says:

    This sounds like an entertaining book. Though I’ve never been to any parties where people stand around talking about literature. If we do talk about books it’s usually genre fiction, SFF mostly. I have friends who enjoy reading but they don’t tend to read classics or literary fiction. I’m the oddball in the crowd.


    • Jeff says:

      Aye, most of the people I know who read are into crime fiction. Maybe a book like this will make less sense in the future? Even book groups seem to pick very light material. Hurray for the blogosphere!


  2. Letizia says:

    What a great title for a book! It reminds me of Pierre Bayard’s How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read which someone gave to me for my birthday last year. Some of the chapters include ” Books you have skimmed,” “Books you have forgotten” “Encounters in Society” and “Imposing your ideas”. Haha!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Recommended by Book Bloggers: Quirky Books about Books | Recent Items

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