Why we read On bookworms, libraries and just one more page before lights out

Shannon Reed

Book - 2024

In this uproarious exploration of the joys of reading, a long-time teacher, lifelong reader and The New Yorker contributor shares surprising stories from her life and the poignant ways in which books have impacted her students and shows us how literature can transform us for the better.

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor New Shelf 028.9/Reed (NEW SHELF) Due Mar 5, 2024
Toronto, Ontario, Canada : Hanover Square Press [2024]
Main Author
Shannon Reed (author)
Physical Description
329 pages ; 22 cm
  • Preface: Why I Read
  • To Get to Go to the Library
  • How I Choose a Book: A Thirteen-Step Guide
  • Because There Was Always Another Page
  • To Finish a Series
  • Calmed-Down Classics of American Literature for the Anxiety-Ridden
  • Because We Had To
  • To Break the Rules
  • Signs You May Be a Female Character in a Work of Historical Fiction
  • To Learn About (and From) the Past
  • For Love
  • Signs You May Be a Character in a Popular Children's Book
  • To Make Us Cry
  • Because I Wanted Free Pizza
  • To Find the Main Point
  • Because Failure Is Most Definitely an Option
  • But Not Shakespeare!
  • Signs You May Be a Character in a Shakespearean Play
  • To Feel Less Alone
  • To See Ourselves Across Time
  • Signs You May Be an Adult Character in a YA Novel
  • To Taste
  • Questions I Use to Evaluate a New Recipe
  • Because Someone Gave Me a Book
  • For Comfort
  • To Feel Superior
  • To Be Shocked
  • Town Summer Festival Kickoff Declared "Success"
  • To Learn There's More Than a Single Story
  • Because It's Fun
  • To Save My Life
  • To Shake Up Your Perspective
  • The Five People You Meet When You Work in a Bookstore
  • Because Someone Is Paying You to Teach a Class about Vampires
  • To Learn How to Die (and How to Live)
  • Because Once More Was Enough
  • To Try Again
  • To Motivate Us
  • To Make Us Cry (II)
  • Because We Are What We Read
  • List of Books and Works Mentioned
  • Acknowledgments
Review by Booklist Review

So why do we read? Humorist Reed offers a generous assortment of answers in this splendid collection of 40 mini-essays, which run about eight pages on average. We read for pleasure, for company, for comfort (see Reed's very funny essay on Amish romance novels), to feel less alone, to feel superior (see Moby-Dick in its many manifestations), and because it's fun. Like this book is. Arranged roughly chronologically, essays limn a lifetime of reading and become a de facto memoir, introducing readers to the author's many years of teaching (she's currently a professor at the University of Pittsburgh). Her pieces on teaching in particular are wise, insightful, and empathic to her students. They are also, again, often funny, as in her essay about teaching a college course on vampires while she is deathly afraid of them. As a teacher, she adamantly opposes assigned reading, which is sure to delight many of the (voluntary) readers of this book. Reed is good company, and her celebration of books, reading, and readers is a delight.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this loving ode, Reed (Why Did I Get a B?), a creative writing lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh, serves up witty reflections on the joys of books. When "reading, I was never lonely, the way I sometimes felt in real life," Reed writes, describing how as a child she found books to be a welcome respite from talking with others, whom she often struggled to understand because of a hearing impairment. Recounting notable episodes from her reading life, she recalls becoming an "excellent skimmer" as a kid by participating in a Pizza Hut program that rewarded students with slices for each book read and discusses drawing motivation from subpar books she reviewed in her 20s ("If they can publish a book, who's to say I can't?"). Reed blames elitist disdain toward genre fiction for turning off many would-be readers and encourages people to pick out whatever books they're personally drawn to. The meditations on reading are at once wry and heartening (she calls the habit "a dear friend who's always there for me but never, ever asks for a slice"), and the humor amuses (a list of "signs you may be a character in a Shakespearean play" includes "you are dead, but still speaking"). Bibliophiles will find much to love. Agent: Bonnie Nadell, Hill Nadell Literary. (Feb.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Confessions of a happy reader. As a hearing-impaired child, Reed found safety in books. She chose her borrowed books carefully after receiving her first library card at around age 5. As a teenager, she signed up for Pizza Hut's BOOK IT! program, even though she needed no encouragement to read. Now an educator and writer, Reed offers a lighthearted memoir in the form of short essays about her experiences reading, teaching, and thinking about books. Growing up, reading made her feel smart. "And in reading," she adds, "I was never lonely, the way I sometimes felt in real life." She read in the bathroom, in the car, in the dentist's chair, and on family vacations when she might have been looking out for flora and fauna. She writes about the pleasures of reading all the books in a series, her affinity for cookbooks, books that provide comfort, and books with surprising plot twists. As a student, she hated assigned reading, making her sympathetic to her own students who were faced with required summer books. Although her tastes are eclectic, she doesn't like reading plays. "Plays," she insists, "should be read aloud." Popping up amid the essays are brief, funny send-ups of genre stereotypes, such as "Signs you may be a female character in a work of historical fiction." One sign: Your name is Sarah. "Signs you may be an adult character in YA fiction"? For one, your children's friends "think you are the best." A list of books mentioned appends the memoir, with some elaborated on at length: George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo, for one, which Reed taught to her college students; and Atul Gawande's Being Mortal. Reflecting on a life devoted to books, Reed writes, "My grave marker may someday read: She read every page." Delightful reminiscences of a book lover. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.