Get ‘Em While They’re Fresh: New Books for March 2014

Why Read?Mark Edmundson explores the importance of a literary education in Why Read? Central to his discussion is the belief that a liberal arts education should provide students with a foundation for answering the following questions: “Who am I? What might I become? What is this world in which I find myself? How might it be changed for the better?” (p. 5). He weaves together his experience as a humanities professor at the University of Virginia with the wisdom of others (e.g., Proust, Emerson, Faulkner, Trilling) to demonstrate the essential role that literature can and must play to prepare students for life. While teachers and students of literature are the specific audience of Why Read?, this book may also serve as a catalyst for others to revisit these fundamental questions through literature. John T. Richardson Library, Call Number: 807.1173 E2434W

On RereadingOn Rereading brims with unexpected discoveries generated by successive readings of fiction. Patricia Meyer Spacks, a professor emeritus of literature at the University of Virginia, embarked on an exploration of rereading as an activity and also “to demonstrate how reading gets inside your head and what it does when it gets there” (p. 21). Her process was one of reflecting on her own rereading of children’s literature and Jane Austen novels. And, in an effort to understand the imprint of societal conditions on the interpretation of a novel, she reread books from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. While impossible to distill her findings for this post, Spacks elegantly describes rereading as “the image of a palimpsest…as a model for rereading’s richness…each new layer both adds to and subtracts from what has gone before…although one never altogether recovers previous layers, they add texture and meaning to the ultimate version” (p. 274). John T. Richardson Library, Call Number: 028.9 S73270

Reading Beyond the BookUnlike the first two books profiled above that focus on individual development through literature, Reading Beyond the Book: the Social Practices of Contemporary Literary Culture investigates the shared reading experiences taking place through mass reading events (MREs: think of One Book, One Chicago) that first surfaced in the late 1990s and have only continued to increase in popularity. Intrigued and concerned by this phenomenon, popular culture and mass media experts Danielle Fuller and DeNel Rehberg Sedo decided to study these events in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. The authors discuss the case studies they launched that address the current desire to share reading experiences. They also studied the complex issues associated with MREs including political agendas, mediums such as television and radio, economics of the publishing industries, cultural policies of the three nations, and the workers involved in producing these events. John T. Richardson Library, Call Number: 028.9 F9657r

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