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  • The Year of Reading Dangerously

  • How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life
  • Written by: Andy Miller
  • Narrated by: Andy Miller
  • Length: 9 hrs and 1 min
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An editor and writer's vivaciously entertaining, and often moving, memoir — a true story that reminds us why we should all make time in our lives for books.

Nearing his fortieth birthday, author and critic Andy Miller realized he's not nearly as well read as he'd like to be. A devout book lover who somehow fell out of the habit of reading, he began to ponder the power of books to change an individual life—including his own—and to define the sort of person he would like to be. Beginning with a copy of Bulgakov's Master and Margarita that he happens to find one day in a bookstore, he embarks on a literary odyssey of mindful reading and wry introspection. From Middlemarch to Anna Karenina to A Confederacy of Dunces, these are books Miller felt he should read; books he'd always wanted to read; books he'd previously started but hadn't finished; and books he'd lied about having read to impress people.

Combining memoir and literary criticism, The Year of Reading Dangerously is Miller's heartfelt, humorous, and honest examination of what it means to be a reader. Passionately believing that books deserve to be read, enjoyed, and debated in the real world, Miller documents his reading experiences and how they resonated in his daily life and ultimately his very sense of self. The result is a witty and insightful journey of discovery and soul-searching that celebrates the abiding miracle of the book and the power of reading.

©2014 Andy Miller (P)2014 Audible Studios

What the critics say

"Andy Miller writes so well he could make shopping at Sainsbury’s sound amusing." (The Independent)
"An eye for comic detail worthy of the young Evelyn Waugh." (The Observer)
"Fresh, joyfully uncynical and, above all, very funny." (Time Out)
“Wonderfully elevating and entertaining…. A delightful read in its totality.” (Maria Popova, BrainPickings)
"Like nothing else I have ever read - a combination of criticism and memoir that is astute, tender, funny and often wickedly ironic." (Observer (London))
“Miller conveys his love of reading, though the book is light on literary criticism.… There is plenty of hilarity in [this] intimate literary memoir.” (Publishers Weekly)
“An affecting tale of the rediscovery of great books...[by] a friendly, funny Brit.” (Boston Globe)
“Very funny ... High Fidelity for bookworms." (Telegraph (London))
"With a charming sense of humor and an appealing accent, Andy Miller recounts a twelve-month return to the joys of reading.... Bibliophiles will enjoy meandering through the titles and adding their own as they immerse themselves in Miller's delightful performance." (AudioFile)

What listeners say about The Year of Reading Dangerously

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Tomsde
  • 2015-01-31

The Worst Book About Books I've Ever Read

I think the problem with The Year of Reading Dangerously is that it doesn't know what it wanted to be when it grows up. Does it want to be a memoir about someone's relationship with books or does it want to be a book of literary criticism or critic. The problem I had with the book is, that though the author performed his book in an entertaining manner, I found that there wasn't a coherent structure to bind the whole thing together. What I thought I was getting was a brief commentary on all the 52 books Mr. Miller had read in his year of reading, but that is not what I got--I got a hodge podge of personal reminiscences sprinkled with pompous intellectualism and peculiar assertions about men and reading and the role of a husband. He was good at blathering on about obscure, contemporary books and out of print biographies of a particular type of German rock music and didn't say a word about important books that he'd read like Jane Eyre and Frankenstein. On a whole I feel that Mr. Millers book was more an exercise of mental masturbation than something truly meaningful about the books he's read--what he said was meaningful to him--but he didn't seem particularly concerned about whether the reader, his audience got anything out of it, in fact he encouraged us to skip an entire chapter dealing with a scathing fan letter he never sent to some French author.

The bottom line is if you want to read about that says meaningful things about famous works of literature, this isn't for you. If you want and clouded, muddled, and somewhat infuriating book about the authors strange and unconventional life, then have at it and have fun. Now that I have completed it, in spite of Mr. Miller said I needed to read the book 2-3 times to really "get it" I have other books I'd rather read and get more out of. I am even contemplating hitting the delete button and depositing it in the recycle bin. Good luck, if you've already bought this title--you'll need it.

51 people found this helpful

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  • Rachel
  • 2014-12-15

Dumb story, annoying narrator and bad taste

I thought this sounded like fun book about the love of reading. I specifically looked to see if he read some books that I've enjoyed. He did, but once I started listening, I discovered that his taste is diametrically opposed to mine. He couldn't get into Middlemarch and refused to like Austen. Moron. And he read and enjoyed all of Dickens's writings (he says). I don't get it.

I think I could have still enjoyed a book about books I don't like (I enjoy reading the blog "Books I done Read" but I've discovered that I tend not to like the books she really loves), but this was mostly a whiny biography of a man I don't like and I couldn't care less about.

Sadly, so sadly, he didn't really say much about the books themselves. I would have loved to hear his actual thoughts on what the characters did, what they thought, etc, or even how the author phrased things or set up scenes in the story, rather than his vague praise of, or distaste for the author's general writing. (If this guy were writing this book for my class, I'd urge him to be more specific when he praises or disses a book.)

Miller is trying to read these books to make himself better, though he doesn't recommend that we all try reading these particular books. He includes a lot of books I haven't actually heard of (even though I consider myself a fairly broad reader) and he makes a lot of references to British stuff that loses me. (I totally want book tokens for Christmas, though. What a cool idea. Wikipedia says they have them in the US, but I've never heard of them.)

Here's all you need to know: This book is not fun, you'd be better off just reading the books already on your list because this is not a commiseration of your love of books; this is a stultifying slog through somebody else's list, with basically no attention given to what is in the books themselves.

Save your credit for something, anything, else.

50 people found this helpful

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  • Mark
  • 2014-12-30

Not a great book, but a good one

The book takes the form of a sort of diary-blog-journal of a year in the life of a middle-aged Englishman from Middle-England. He parodies his own suburban middleness with a lot of wit and engaging humour, poking fun at his rat-trap, 9 to 5, 1.8-children lifestyle and the fact that he no longer has time to pursue his passion, reading books (although he is an editor at a London Publishing Company and had written 2 books before this one, so it isn’t as if he is totally disengaged from literature).

In order to remedy this situation (and also to provide the premise for writing this book), he decides to read 50 books that he has either always wanted to read, or feels that he ought to have read. They are all works of fiction. Some of the books are difficult to read, such as Middlemarch, Moby Dick and Of Human Bondage. Others are more popular and accessible, such as The Da Vinci Code, Pride and Prejudice and Absolute Beginners.

The book is definitely interesting from start to finish, and he certainly gives tips about what not to read and a few ideas about books that are worth a try (although, as he is a somewhat eccentric character, I do have some doubts about whether I would enjoy his favourite picks as much as he does). At times, he drifts off on a bit of a tangent and you want him to get back on course, and also, he doesn’t review a significant number (half perhaps?) of the books, he just tells you that he read them.

Despite these shortcomings, it's a good entertaining, worthwhile read, excellently narrated by the author himself. Unfortunately, his absolute-number-one-must-read pick of all the books is Atomised (aka The Elementary Particles) by Michel Houellebecq, which I sadly could not find on an Audible search - and so maybe I will have to find and read an old-fashioned 'dead-tree' version of this book.

45 people found this helpful

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  • Mon Dobrin
  • 2014-12-27

Fun, intelligent and long-winded

A very honest memoir of a reader gone astray rediscovering books. There were several laugh-out-loud moments. The struggle is very nerdy, very real.

Andy Miller is very fond of going on tangents, even including a long letter that he never intended to send to an author that felt more like a page-filler than actual content. I was never quite sure when his train of thought would end. He never did explain how books saved his life. He had a goal of reading two bad books, and only got around to reading one of them. As far as I can tell, Chekhov's gun is still sitting on the mantel.

34 people found this helpful

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  • myrthasg
  • 2014-12-21

A BOOKLOVER'S BOOK

Fantastic! One of the best books I've read, Passionate, inspirational and down to earth.
Did not agree with the author about some books, but I did in his view of things, mostly.
He and I are more or less the same generation so many events and names were familiar avenues in my memory,(of course I'm a latin american and he is british.) What I want to say is that I can understand what he's talking about (sort of, I'm not trying to sound pretentious, believe me!)
It is a great book about great books, As A. M. says: Many we have read and many not, and our opinions are different, but that is OK.
Love the analysis of the books although as I said did not agree with some. Wanted to hear his opinion of others I've read that were in his list and he did not comment. I wonder if no opinion is an opinion... Anyway, had some effects on me. Firstly, It kind of killed my pleasure in mere entertainment (I sort of resent that) on the other hand it awoke my interest (long, long ago asleep) for some classics. L. Tolstoy WAR AND PEACE and ANNA KARENINA are my next challenges. I've read them as a teenager and of course don't remember anything but that they were looooong and tedious but I'm looking already for a copy. There are some that I just won't, like MOBY DICK , so you get the gist.
But these comments are absolutely superficial really, What strike me most is how A. M: with raw honesty describes the effects of some of the books in his life, and more importantly to me how it spoke to me in a common, maybe even share language, mind to mind and heart to heart (sorry, sounds corny, I know,but it really did!)
I leave you with the encouragement to read this book.
Being this an Audiobook review, it is crucial the narration, so let me tell you that it is indeed VERY, VERY GOOD

26 people found this helpful

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  • Joel
  • 2014-12-12

Pompous, Pernicious, and Pernickety

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

The author taking a carrot out of his lower most orifice!

Would you ever listen to anything by Andy Miller again?

No.

Have you listened to any of Andy Miller’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No. Thank goodness.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

A few one off lines were humorous, but that's about it.

Any additional comments?

How apt that a book about great books should be the worst book I have read all year. This is a pompous, pernicious, and pernickety book. Stemming from the author's early midlife crisis, he seems to feel that he can read a lot of books and lecture everyone else on what makes a great book. Well, Mr Miller, your book was my 90th this year. So as that instantly gives me more authority than you let me lecture you. STOP. JUST STOP!

17 people found this helpful

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  • Carole T.
  • 2015-07-01

Reading . . . Seriously and Not So!

After much soul searching, I forgive Andy Miller for not much liking "Pride and Prejudice." His book about books is completely inspiring, absolutely entertaining, and seriously funny.

Not many writers of such books admit to lying about what they have actually read! As a bookseller and editor, he even confesses to recommending volumes he has never personally opened. Early in "The Year of ...," it's clear that this will not be a pretentious, academic exercise in proving how much more learned and smart Andy Miller is than you, the lowly reader.

Why else did I love it so much? Well, 1) Andy Miller is OK with his Mom liking the books of Jean Plaidy and Philippa Gregory and a childhood home which did not boast an extensive library of "great books"; 2) "The Code of the Woosters;" 3) he does not necessarily recommend his own top 50 to others and agrees that tastes vary; and 4) the "Notes for Reading Groups" [listen until the end so you won't miss it!] are right-on and priceless!

The narration is a perfect combination of love and respect for the subject matter and tongue-in-cheek self abasement.

If you have even the slightest interest in such "list" books, get this one. It's serious about books and a joy of a listen, even considering the Jane Austen thing!

12 people found this helpful

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  • Diane Challenor
  • 2015-01-16

Interesting, entertaining and inspiring

I've added this one to my absolute favourites. I found the book interesting, entertaining and inspiring. I enjoyed the audiobook so much that I've purchased the print version so I can dip into it whenever I want. Anyone who loves books about books must read this one. The author's narration is perfect, full of passion and self effacing humour, very British. Loved it!

12 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Sara Longaberger
  • 2015-01-13

Enjoyed it!

In need of inspiration to get back into reading, I found this book. It has inspired me and reminded me of why I read. I felt giddy every time he referenced a book I had read. The reader gave a performance that made me laugh out loud. I recommend it!

12 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Sheila A. Dechantal
  • 2014-12-11

Funny and intelligent, Miller is worth the listen!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. Andy Millers coverage and conversations of some of the top titles of our time is engaging listening.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

I enjoyed hearing his thoughts on the books. I had hoped that some of the titles would engage me but his list of books was so deep and hard literacy reading that I am not sure if that was accomplished.

What about Andy Miller’s performance did you like?

Andy Miller has a wonderful sense of humor and a great accent. He grabs your attention right from the delightful prologue.

Any additional comments?

For those looking at reading some of the greats, this is a wonderful listen to either add to your own personal list or cross off some from your list. :)

10 people found this helpful