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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

book by book

Happened across Michael Dirda's delightful Book by Book: Notes on Reading and Life, at the library a few weeks ago, and I'm glad it caught my eye. And because I'm terrible at writing book or movie reviews (a topic to be discussed in another post), I once again will take the easy way out and simply tell you what the inside cover says:

Once out of school, most people read for pleasure. But for some of us, there is an equally important reason that we read: to learn how to live. Drawing on sources as diverse as Dr. Seuss and Simone Weil, P.G. Wodehouse and Isaiah Berlin, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Michael Dirda shows how the wit, wisdom and enchantment of the written word informs and enriches nearly every aspect of life, from education and work to love and death. From essential works for children to the handful of masterpieces that every reader should have at his command, Dirda offers us an opinionated, personal and idiosyncratic account of what—and how—to draw meaning from what we read.

Organized by significant life events and brimming with quotations from great writers and thinkers, Book by Book showcases Dirda's capacious love for and understanding of books. Through his suggested readings and brief essays he draws us deeper into the classics, as well as lesser-known works of literature, history, and philosophy, with an eye to how we might better understand our lives.

One of the many pleasures of this book was the abundance of quotes, and I particularly like the two that Dirda (staff writer for The Washington Post Book World), chose to open and close his thoughtful reflections with:

The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning. If you knew when you began a book what you would say at the end, do you think that you would have the courage to write it? What is true for writing and for a love relationship is true also for life. The game is worthwhile insofar as we don't know what will be at the end. —MICHEL FOUCAULT

At the day of Judgment we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done. —THOMAS À KEMPIS

Good job, Mr. Dirda.


Blogger Kitty Cats Corner said...

Love the quotes you cited here. I may have to check this book out.


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PS: Stop by our bloggie and cast your vote!

September 14, 2006 11:21 p.m.


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