Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Rights of the ReaderThe Rights of the Reader by Daniel Pennac
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is hands down, my new favorite book, which is saying something because I haven't had a new favorite book since 1996 when I first read The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara.

This book is a delightful, whimsical treatise on the love of reading. I read entire chapters aloud to my husband because I could not contain my enthusiasm for this book.

Among the highlights of the book are the following passages:

What we need to understand is that books weren't written so that young people could write essays about them, but so that they could read them if they really wanted to.

The road to knowledge doesn't lead into this classroom: it leads out of it.

If you're wondering how you'll find time, it means you don't really want to read. Because nobody's ever got time. Children certainly haven't, nor teenagers or grown-ups. Life always gets in the way.

I could go on and on, but I'm pretty sure I'm preaching to the choir, and besides this book is far better written than my review.

I do have two things to note: this book is written by a teacher, and so the slant is towards why students don't seem to enjoy reading, and what can be done about it. It actually reads very easily, and the logic is straightforward, but it's helpful to know that this is the basic argument behind the book.

The second thing to note is that the chapter on the right to mistake a book for real life isn't about what I thought it'd be about. It's more about how adolescents relate to characters, seeing themselves in them, seeing their lives mirrored in the characters' dramas.

I don't know if I saw myself in any of my favorite characters as a teenager, but I do lose myself in books, which is what I think of when I think of mistaking a book for real life. I feel the heartaches and joys of the characters I'm reading about. I get frustrated when characters make bad decisions. (I also get frustrated with authors for bad writing.) And I love, love, love, when I find a character I want to know in real life. Even though I know they're a product of someone's imagination.

It seems that a book about the love of reading is a little redundant. Clearly people who love reading are already reading, but I think this book is well worth the few short hours it will take you to read it.

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