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Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books Paperback – January 2, 2007
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But somewhere in the middle of the introduction, I realized that Maureen Corrigan was outlining what was to come in the rest of the book. She took about a page to describe each of the chapters that were to follow. I should have ended my reading there.
What followed were thesis papers merged with autobiographical information to create chapters. Even more disappointing was the fact that Corrigan gave away the endings to many of the books she discussed. Now I have an interesting list of books I'd like to read based on her recommendations, but I already know how each will turn out.
Corrigan warns readers in the introduction that "there's no such thing as travel insurance when it comes to reading." So I guess I have only myself to blame. I should have stopped reading when she gave away the ending to Bronte's Villette.
So why did I keep reading? Because this is a well-written, interesting book. Corrigan's autobiographical details of her "book life" and real life show such passion that it's difficult to put her book down.
Here are two specific examples of why I loved - rather than just "liked" or "appreciated" - "Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading." Example No. 1: This book about the author's lifelong love of, and near obsession with, reading begins with the following epigraph, a quote from the contractor fixing the leaking, book-filled basement in Corrigan's home: "Bet you didn't learn anything about foundations when you were in graduate school for English." Example No. 2: describing the difference between herself and the people she knows who have no deeply felt appreciation for books (or the stacks of them that made her graduate school apartment look like the warehouse in the final scene of "Citizen Kane"), Corrigan writes: "They think I lack common sense; I think they lack a part of their souls."
The book moves seamlessly back and forth from the seminal episodes and people in Corrigan's life, to the most meaningful of the thousands (millions?) of books she has read. In both realms, Corrigan meanders effortlessly from the deeply significant (the adoption of her daughter from China) and the high-brow (the novels of Jane Austen and the Brontes), to the ridiculous (grad school in-fighting) and the (seemingly) low-brow (Nancy Drew and Dashiell Hammett).Read more ›
One of the best things about this book-- a no-brainer, really-- is that when morons try to strike up conversations with you in public while you're reading (were these people born in a barn, really?) by asking you what it is you are reading, all you have to do is show them the title. If you're lucky, they'll take the hint. Conversation ended, and you can get back to Maureen Corrigan's interesting dual meditation on books and life. (If the person persists, and asks the next obvious question-- "What's it about?"-- unload on that person with both barrels. They're obviously not going to pick up on subtlety.) Thus, keeping a copy of it close by is pretty much a necessity for any dedicated reader.
As to the book's content, it should be close to the heart of that same dedicated reader; it's half about books and half about life-- specifically, Maureen Corrigan's life. She starts off with the feminine version of the extreme-adventure tale (with women, the extreme-adventure tale isn't about climbing mountains or disappearing in the perfect storm, but about such mundane, but still horrific, tests as abuse, childbirth, the possibility of spinsterhood in the Brontes and Austens of the literary landscape). Everything stems from here; Corrigan's other chapters cover hardboiled detective fiction and Catholic martyr tales, variations on the extreme-adventure theme, all tied to Corrigan's life. Not that she (usually) compares herself to the heroines of these tales, but it's still pretty easy to trace the parallels. It also helps, for the dedicated reader, the Corrigan has pretty much the dream job-- she does reviews and interviews for NPR's premiere arts show, Fresh Air. Yes, there's a good deal to identify with.Read more ›
Corrigan is a genius at comically puncturing the pieties we all take for granted. When she and her husband, Rich, adopt their daughter from China, the story is especially moving because she keeps directing us to its more absurd aspects (the couple sit through bad adoption videos and stay in a Chinese hotel that also houses a bordello before finally bringing home their baby daughter). In telling the story of adopting Molly, Corrigan effortlessly evokes many different books from Ruth Reichl's sad adoption saga in Comfort Me with Apples to Blanche Wiesen Cook's biography of Eleanor Roosevelt. Full of literary recommendations, snappy lines, and clever insights, Leave Me Alone I'm Reading is the best and funniest book I've read in a long time.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An original take on the reading life--and full of good suggestions on books to read. I especially like the mystery writers Corrigan recommends.Published 2 months ago by Elaine Greensmith Jordan
Corrigan is an Edgar Award winning book critic / reviewer who, along with being a book reviewer on NPR's "Fresh Air" segment, also teaches literature at Georgetown... Read morePublished 4 months ago by EpicFehlReader
Maureen Corrigan more than delivers with this fact-jammed, title-littered, passion-filled book about reading in general and her reading history in particular. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Ruthy Wexler
I loved this book, bought three of them to share with others. The riff on growing up in a catholic school circa 1960 is delightful and rings so true. Read morePublished 15 months ago by J. Kovach
She grew up in Brooklyn as a Roman Catholic Polish-Irish bookworm. She graduated from Fordham and received a Ph.D in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania. Read morePublished 22 months ago by C. M Mills
Looking at my Goodreads account, it lists over 1500 books I've read and there must be many books I've read in my life but I can't remember to post. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Dean A. Anderson
Too long and obtuse for most. I was not inspired to add her recommendations to my reading list nor were the rest other book club members.Published on June 15, 2014 by KT
I love Maureen Corrigan's book reviews on NPR and when I found out she'd written a book I immediately sent for it. Read morePublished on October 19, 2013 by tasson