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Customer Review

on September 23, 2005
If you love books, if you love to think about books, then "Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading" should be at the top of that pile next to your bed. Corrigan's personal memoir/literary exploration is smart, interesting, opinionated, extremely well-written, frequently stimulating and thought-provoking, and always sharply - yet self-deprecatingly - funny. I found this rare combination of attributes impossible to resist.

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). Like Stephen Jay Gould illuminating the beauty and complexities of evolution, Corrigan can explicate the deeper significance of literary masterpieces without talking down to her audience, and relate these timeless themes to the comedy and tragedy and absurdity of daily life.

Perhaps the best way to sum up how I felt about "Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading" is to say that it left me wanting to spend a week or two on some beach with Corrigan and a group of friends, talking about life and books, books and life.
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