From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Author and Maryland Institute College of Art professor Brottman (High Theory/Low Culture) challenges the conventional wisdom of her fellow compulsive readers, positing that "while illiteracy is just as dangerous as sexual ignorance, in both cases there's a case to be made for moderation." As the title entendre suggests, Brottman is an advocate of reading for pleasure, but she draws witty and serious ties between literacy and a number of impulses, compulsions and neuroses: voyeurism, celebrity worship, guilt, isolation and "Severe Disappointment with Reality." With thoughtful deference to those "smart, well-educated people... for whom reading is anything but 'fun-damental,'" she cites recent titles challenging the reading-is-good-for-you "superstition" (How to Talk About Books you Haven't Read, Everything Bad is Good for You), mines her own past for tales of reading excess ("I became something of a ghoul myself, buried all day in my bedroom... except to renew my library books") and looks hard at "some of the things literature... can't do." Brottman beats a winding path through library stacks, "ought" books and the virtues of true crime. Of course she rallies for the home team, locating reading's greatest virtue in its faculty for individual self-discovery (not unlike masturbation). With sharp observations, a brisk style and a wide range of topics, Brottman's is a rare feat: a crowd-pleaser that could make converts out of readers and nonreaders alike.
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Brottman boldly challenges the current conventional wisdom, expressed in such venues as citywide reading campaigns and the NEA's Reading at Risk report, that reading is an unalloyed good...Citing her own childhood reading obsession, devouring horror stories 'locked away in my attic bedroom . . . avoiding everything I could, except books,' she describes how reading turned her 'from an ordinary, introspective teenager into a barely functional recluse.'... Yet, as Brottman generously shares her own reading obsessions, she subtly challenges us to consider what gives each of us who love to read our unique passion for the written word." -- Shelf Awareness
"The Solitary Vice
will make you rethink your own relation to reading. Brottman is wonderful at reminding us what a very complicated act--of fantasy, recompense, adventurism and (sometimes) perversity--reading a book can be." -- Laura Kipnis
"Brottman is an advocate of reading for pleasure, but she draws witty and serious ties between literacy and a number of impulses, compulsions and neuroses: voyeurism, celebrity worship, guilt, isolation and `Severe Disappointment with Reality' . . . With sharp observations, a brisk style and a wide range of topics, Brottman's is a rare feat: a crowd-pleaser that could make converts out of readers and nonreaders alike." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Mikita Brottman is one of us: another victim of the unhealthiest and most solipsistic of media pleasures. In this compelling condemnation of literature, she nonetheless offers us one more reason to pick up a good book--her own." -- Douglas Rushkoff
"Brottman is wonderful at reminding us what a [complicated] act--of fantasy, recompense, adventurism, and (sometimes) perversity--reading...can be." -- Laura Kipnis
"Her book is part provocation, part memoir and part memorable roadmap to some of literature's best." -- Geeta Sharma-Jensen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinal
"Here's a book, from a professor no less, that asks the heretical question: Is reading as great as all those preachy public service campaigns would have us believe? ...But as Mikita Brottman, who teaches literature and college at the Maryland Institute College of Art, acknowledges, she's not against reading. She's for thinking about reading in more complex ways:'It's easy to get into the habit of reading; what's much more difficult is learning to become a conscientious, discerning reader.' The Solitary Vice
will help." -- USA Today
"In this compelling condemnation of literature, [Brottman]... offers us one more reason to pick up a good book--her own." -- Douglas Rushkoff
"[Brottman's] erudite and witty new work [is] a wild literary ride [which] challenges the current conventional wisdom..." -- Harvey Freedenberg, Shelf Awareness