Title: Books Promiscuously Read – Reading as a Way of Life
Author: Heather Cass White
Pages: 176 Pages
Publisher: Farrah, Straus and Giroux
The critic and scholar Heather Cass White offers an exploration of the nature of reading
Heather Cass White’s Books Promiscuously Read is about the pleasures of reading and its power in shaping our internal lives. It advocates for a life of constant, disorderly, time-consuming reading, and encourages readers to trust in the value of the exhilaration and fascination such reading entails. Rather than arguing for the moral value of reading or the preeminence of literature as an aesthetic form, Books Promiscuously Read illustrates the irreplaceable experience of the self that reading provides for those inclined to do it.
Through three sections—Play, Transgression, and Insight—which focus on three ways of thinking about reading, Books Promiscuously Read moves among and considers many poems, novels, stories, and works of nonfiction. The prose is shot through with quotations reflecting the way readers think through the words of others.
Books Promiscuously Read is a tribute to the whole lives readers live in their books, and aims to recommit people to those lives. As White writes, “What matters is staying attuned to an ordinary, unflashy, mutely persistent miracle; that all the books to be read, and all the selves to be because we have read them, are still there, still waiting, still undiminished in their power. It is an astonishing joy.”
As a reader, I am always fascinated and puzzled when people don’t find the same joy that I do between the pages of a good book. I wanted to read Books Promiscuously Read because I thought that maybe I would find some answers to this question.
It started off promising with little vignettes that were similar to the book Scribbles in the Margin by Daniel Gray. However, the writing pettered off and became very claggy. Everything seemed heavy and whilst you cannot argue that author Heather Cass White had deep opinions on the matter I felt like I was wading through hoummas to try and get to her point. Ironically, a book that is supposed to be about reading as a way of life became such a dirge for me and I became exhausted by its heaviness. I spent the time reading the words to get it finished and not because I enjoyed it.
Sadly, Books Promiscuously Read was not for me.
Books Promiscuously Read – Reading as a Way of Life by Heather Cass White is available 6th July 2021.