The great Canadian novelist Robertson Davies spent his long life in love with books. This posthumous collection of two dozen essays stands as the lively recollections of a great reader: Davies talks praises the books he's loved, damns the books he's hated, and seeks to answer the eternal question of why we read books. And while Davies writes with great authority, he's thankfully never pedantic, and his comments about books, which range from children's titles to Ulysses, are always delivered in a charmingly unpretentious manner. The individual essays are all beautifully written, and cracking this book will no doubt encourage readers to track down many of the authors and titles that Davies covered.
As lectures, these observations must have been splendid--wise, witty, wide-ranging--and we should be happy to have them as further evidence of Davies's sensibility. But lectures, however brilliant, are not essays.... Though Davies was a relaxed and winning raconteur, a beguiling autocrat of the rostrum, these talks do not capture the best of what he had to offer. -- The New York Times Book Review, Sven Birkerts
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Some of Davies's ideas are iconoclastic, and will delight those who share them while stimulating those who do not. All his judgments are interesting, steeped in humanism, and most elegantly put. -- The Atlantic Monthly, Phoebe-Lou Adams