STARRED REVIEW
December 09, 2014

Learning to love ‘War and Peace’

By Andy Miller
After establishing that he’s not any of the Andy or Andrew Millers you might have heard of, this English Andy Miller introduces his ambitious vow to read 50 great books within a year—and, better still, to chronicle the struggles and discoveries involved along the way. This he does with candor and good humor
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After establishing that he’s not any of the Andy or Andrew Millers you might have heard of, this English Andy Miller introduces his ambitious vow to read 50 great books within a year—and, better still, to chronicle the struggles and discoveries involved along the way. This he does with candor and good humor

His list ranges from the predictable (Moby Dick and Don Quixote) to the surprising (The Code of the Woosters and The Communist Manifesto) to the truly head-scratching (The Essential Silver Surfer, Vol. 1 and Krautrocksampler). His criteria for inclusion, as best one can determine, are books he has already read, loved and wants to read again, books he feels he should have read and books he’s told people he’s read but hasn’t. He doesn’t actually describe his encounter with each book, but he does linger on those he found especially endearing or hard to deal with. In the process he muses on the future of physical books and libraries in an age of electronic ones and on the ideal roles of bookstore clerks. He almost gives up on Middlemarch and Of Human Bondage but ultimately soldiers through both.

In Anna Karenina he finds “the perfect balance of art and entertainment—no, not a balance, a union of the two.” Miller and his wife are even more moved by the cosmic sweep of War and Peace. “It is as though, having found a book with all the other books within it, we looked around and asked ourselves: what do we need with all these other books?” His appendices include a list of the 100 books that have influenced him most and a roll call of 34 others he still intends to read. Then there’s his droll sidebar on the similarities between The Da Vinci Code and Moby Dick.

“Better to speak volumes,” he observes sagely, “than to read them.”

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The Year of Reading Dangerously

The Year of Reading Dangerously

By Andy Miller
HarperPerennial
ISBN 9780061446184

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