The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller is a book about reading. The author made a decision to read 50 great books that he has always wanted to read or has falsely claimed that he has already read. He draws up this list with the aid of his partner and this book is his story of the year that he took to read them.
The author claims that his working life and the advent of his first child had meant that he had stopped reading even though he thought of himself as a reader and that it was necessary to restart his reading life with great books rather than popular titles such as those by Dan Brown. The list is a real mixture of books and we are not told exactly what criteria he used to include titles but it seems to have a lot of Russian, British and American titles and is not very diverse.
The author starts to detail his new reading life. He comments on some of the books in detail and gives us his impression but sadly he doesn’t do this for all the books on the list and just mentions about half of them in passing. He also gives his views on book clubs, his family life and a lot about music. There are interludes where he writes a fan letter to a writer and where he compares Moby Dick to The Da Vinci Code.
The book is written in a jokey style and the author has very firm views which he wants to share with the reader. For example, he thinks that War and Peace is a great book and hates Pride and Prejudice. He spends a long time on a couple of books and a lot less on others. He digresses to enthuse about Douglas Adams and the times he met him and gives stories of his time as a bookseller.
I quite enjoyed this book to start with but then I tired of it as the author skipped talking about books on his list and concentrated on music. This is quite a personal response to the book because I would have liked him to concentrate on the titles on the list and less on music and other digressions. This is really a biography shaped by books and because I approached it with certain expectations I found the book disappointing. The author Susan Hill has written a similar book about reading called Howard’s End is on the Landing which I enjoyed a lot more and recommend. I went on to read a number of titles mentioned in Susan Hill’s book but Andy Miller’s book has not encouraged me to try anything new.