I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books, Leave Me Alone

Written by: Maureen Corrigan

I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books, Leave Me Alone Book Cover
“It’s not that I don’t like people,” writes Maureen Corrigan in her introduction to Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading. “It’s just that there always comes a moment when I’m in the company of others—even my nearest and dearest—when I’d rather be reading a book.” In this delightful memoir, Corrigan reveals which books and authors have shaped her own life—from classic works of English literature to hard-boiled detective novels, and everything in between. And in her explorations of the heroes and heroines throughout literary history, Corrigan’s love for a good story shines.
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Im Reading Finding and Losing Myself in Books Leave Me Alone Reviews

Claryn
Don't be fooled -- this isn't a memoir. But it's not lit theory either... it's mostly the wishy washy area in between. Here Maureen Corrigan spoils plot after plot, stringing together a series of dubiously connected book reviews. She makes excuses at various points of the book for her "lack of methodology" and lack of direction, which are the downfall of this book. She tries to read feminist themes into a variety of crappy fiction, which might be admirable if she didn't make so many gendered com Don't be fooled -- this isn't a memoir. But it's not lit theory either... it's mostly the wishy washy area in between. Here Maureen Corrigan spoils plot after plot, stringing together a series of dubiously connected book reviews. She makes excuses at various points of the book for her "lack of methodology" and lack of direction, which are the downfall of this book. She tries to read feminist themes into a variety of crappy fiction, which might be admirable if she didn't make so many gendered comments. For someone so well-read, Ms. Corrigan sure has putrid taste in literature, in addition to her painfully repetitive and disconnected writing and a mandatory reference to 9/11. Snore.
Claryn
Don't be fooled -- this isn't a memoir. But it's not lit theory either... it's mostly the wishy washy area in between. Here Maureen Corrigan spoils plot after plot, stringing together a series of dubiously connected book reviews. She makes excuses at various points of the book for her "lack of methodology" and lack of direction, which are the downfall of this book. She tries to read feminist themes into a variety of crappy fiction, which might be admirable if she didn't make so many gendered comments. For someone so well-read, Ms. Corrigan sure has putrid taste in literature, in addition to her painfully repetitive and disconnected writing and a mandatory reference to 9/11. Snore.
Tiffany
So... I know I've read other books like this one -- the history of a reader, why that person is a reader, what books that person has read, how certain books have influenced that person's life, how certain books have paralleled that person's life, or been completely different from that person's life -- and I've enjoyed them. But for some reason, I just didn't find this one as enjoyable. I don't know if there's something else going on in my head right now so I couldn't enjoy reading it, or if I've read *too* many books like this so I've overdone it with this genre, or if this one just wasn't as good as the others, but for whatever reason, despite the fact that I've read other books of this reader-memoir genre, this one just didn't hold me as much as others. I actually found myself skimming a whole lot, and jumping to the next chapter, hoping it would be better than the current chapter. It was a fine book, though, but just didn't sparkle and make me want to keep reading.
Run Silent Run Deep :: The Wildest Brother :: The Best of McSweeney's, Vol. 2 :: The Monk Downstairs :: Where the Heart Is
Martie
too academic for me to use my reading time, felt like I was in a required class, did not finish
Nancy
I enjoyed the book, but thought I would have used other examples; but still it explains us readers.
In
Maureen Corrigan is a kindred soul. Along with her analysis of genres she enjoys, she give you a look inside the psyche of a devout, obsessed reader. Read this with a pencil and notebook at hand; you'll be writing down titles.
Jenny
This book was another example of not being what I thought it would be. (Interestingly, Corrigan includes this line in her introduction: "Books are wayward. You can begin a book assuming that you're entering one kind of world, getting one kind of message, only to find out that beneath that cover story lurks another kind of tale - or two, or three- altogether.") Whereas I thought it would be an ode to reading and various books - and it was, more or less - it was more a cross between a term paper a This book was another example of not being what I thought it would be. (Interestingly, Corrigan includes this line in her introduction: "Books are wayward. You can begin a book assuming that you're entering one kind of world, getting one kind of message, only to find out that beneath that cover story lurks another kind of tale - or two, or three- altogether.") Whereas I thought it would be an ode to reading and various books - and it was, more or less - it was more a cross between a term paper and a memoir; how different stories relate to certain aspects of her life.

Some parts I found interesting more interesting than others (her and her husband's tale of adoption was particularly heart-felt) and other parts I felt I couldn't relate to (for example, the chapter of being raised in a pre-Vatican II Catholic hometown and even Corrigan's stories about how to survive Ivy League grad school). The books Corrigan talks about, particularly in Chapter 4 about Catholicism and martyrdom, for the most part, weren't anything I've read before (including Jane Eyre in Chapter 1- how was I an English major and never assigned that book?), so I'm glad she gave synopses.

I'm not entirely sure to what audience the book was meant, but I could relate in many ways to her comments about class and a lack of women swash-buckling adventure tales in literature. There were also some nice lines about reading included that I completely related to and how sometimes, all you want to do is tuck yourself away from people and go read.

I think the overall theme is that books can bring you outside of your known world and make you more open to new and different experiences and people. I also like how reading was something she and her ex-Marine dad shared.

It was funny how Ira Einhorn made it into each chapter of her life.

I also enjoyed the short interludes between chapters; those almost felt effortless for her to write.

I completely related to her comment about how when she and her husband moved apartments to prepare for Molly's arrival, they had 150 boxes full of books. "The movers, three nice big guys, started at 8:30am and worked till 9pm. All because of the books. ...'The only job worse than this I ever worked, said one of the guys, 'was a lawyer's house; he had all those big law books.' "

I basically read a chapter per sitting.

"According to a Wall Street Journal article some 59 percent of Americans don't own a single book. Not a cookbook or even the Bible. ” <- Hopefully this percentage has gone down since 2010. How egregious to not own a single book!

"When situations are emotionally overwhelming, in order to get through them people lie me who reflexively turn to books for comfort will sometimes choose a book that's an escape from the crisis at hand."
Claudio Garcia

Taking us through a brutal confessional detailing her struggles with infertility, finding work she loves, finding love itself, and her complex relationship with God, Maureen Corrigan captures the humanity and raw emotion of the best memoirs, but with a unique twist. By relating her own life to literature she gives the reader a unique lens through which to view life and a unique way of finding solutions to the troubles we face. Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading is about not only how books helped its au

Taking us through a brutal confessional detailing her struggles with infertility, finding work she loves, finding love itself, and her complex relationship with God, Maureen Corrigan captures the humanity and raw emotion of the best memoirs, but with a unique twist. By relating her own life to literature she gives the reader a unique lens through which to view life and a unique way of finding solutions to the troubles we face. Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading is about not only how books helped its author move through life, but about how important books are to us all. As both a writer and student of literature, I found that this memoir demonstrates perfectly the importance of books, and why we as people continue to read, write, and tell our stories.



Having a strong academic background in literature, yet finding herself disenchanted with the typical elitist academic culture, our author turned to reviewing books, and “genre” books at that. This shows in her writing, as she writes eloquently and clearly about literature, but does so in a very accessible and down-to-earth way. In this, she takes academic analysis and makes it interesting, and might I even say fun, for the average reader. The way she approaches the analysis of her own life makes her story both delightfully unique, yet brutally universal. Having been a shy bookworm since childhood, the author, like most of us, is familiar with the value of a good book in escaping from the harshness of reality. Yet, she recognizes that books are far more than an escape: they are a solution. Books mirror our own lives and the societies in which we live, and sometimes we need to take a critical look at the story of our own lives to understand how to get the ending we want.



The book isn’t without faults, however. When discussing her ambivalence towards religion, the author seems to also have ambivalence about what argument that chapter is making. It as times become disjointed and rambling, making the chapter somewhat difficult to get through. Similarly, her epilogue detailing her relationship with 9/11 seems out of place. Although it is clearly a personal moment for her, it bears little relation to the rest of the book and does not make for a satisfying conclusion.



As a whole, Leave Me Alone,I’m Reading is a delightful, fun read for introverts, fans of memoir, lovers of books, or anyone who likes to see life through a new lens. Maureen Corrigan not only takes us into her life as though we are close friends, but introduces us to her supportive family: the bookshelf.


Robin
A great read, full of interesting quotes and titles of well loved books. Favorite among favorite quotes from the book: "I've said that I love Pete Hamill's, A Drinking Life.But it's a paragraph Hamill wrote about the New York skyline that, for me, constitutes the most magical moment in the whole memoir. He recalls living in Brooklyn as a kid during World War II. On the evening of D day, he and his neighbors climb the stairs up to the roofs of their tenements. Hamill, who's about eight, keeps ask A great read, full of interesting quotes and titles of well loved books. Favorite among favorite quotes from the book: "I've said that I love Pete Hamill's, A Drinking Life.But it's a paragraph Hamill wrote about the New York skyline that, for me, constitutes the most magical moment in the whole memoir. He recalls living in Brooklyn as a kid during World War II. On the evening of D day, he and his neighbors climb the stairs up to the roofs of their tenements. Hamill, who's about eight, keeps asking his mother what they're all doing on the roof, and she keeps telling him to be quiet, to just keep on looking toward Manhattan as the sky gets darker. Here's what Hamill says happened as night fell and darkness enveloped the city:

'And then, without warning, the entire skyline of New York erupted into glorious light;dazzling, glittering, throbbing in triumph. And the crowds on the rooftops roared...the whole city roaring for light. There it was, gigantic and brilliant, the way they said it used to be:the skyline of New York. Back again. On D day, at the command of Mayor La Guardia. And it wasn't just the skyline. Over on the left was the Statue of Liberty, glowing green from dozens of light beams...The skyline and the statue:in all those years of the war, in all the years of my life, I had never seen either of them at night. I stood there in the roar, transfixed.'

"To read that passage these days, to experience that longed-for return of a missing skyline, well, Hamill makes me imagine what that miracle would be like. Such is the power of words, of writing, of books. Words can summon up a skyline from the dark;they can bring back the people you loved and will always yearn for.They can inspire you with possibilities you otherwise would have never imagined;they can fill your head with misleading fantasies.They can give you back your seemingly seamless past and place it right alongside your chaotic present."

"But that only happens in books," my mother, pretty much immune to the power of the written word, would say. Exactly. That's why I can't stop reading them." p. 183-184
Andrea
I wish that this book had been as sassy as it’s title seemed to promise, however, I did find this book to have some great enlightening moments of clarity and brilliance, which occur mostly when the author deftly describes something about books, reading, and literature. These insights, which ultimately ring very true and have stuck, even though the book is over, are what make this book a worthwhile read.

example: "I think, consciously or not, what we readers do each time we open a book is to set o I wish that this book had been as sassy as it’s title seemed to promise, however, I did find this book to have some great enlightening moments of clarity and brilliance, which occur mostly when the author deftly describes something about books, reading, and literature. These insights, which ultimately ring very true and have stuck, even though the book is over, are what make this book a worthwhile read.

example: "I think, consciously or not, what we readers do each time we open a book is to set off a search for authenticity. We want to get closer to the heart of things, and sometimes even a few good sentences contained in an otherwise unexceptional book can crystallize vague feelings, fleeting physical sensations, or, sometimes, profound epiphanies." pg. xvi

I wish, though, that the book had had more of these moments as opposed to some of the long winded explanations and pedantic excursions - which go on for pages and pages – on 1 or 2 (obscure to me) novels. I have to say though, that I loved her analysis and personal insights on some of her favorite classics, especially the ones that I had read in the past and love(d). I thought her anecdotes about her life as an adoptive mother, a 30 something bride, and a grad student to be entertaining, funny, and relatable. However, the last section of this book about her childhood as a catholic schoolgirl, was to me uninteresting and somewhat of a stretch to make fit within the context of the rest of this book. I certainly don’t think that the chapter deserved to be some 50 pages long (just my opinion). But overall, I liked this bookish autobiography, in spite of the Catholic chapter, and I felt like I identified with Maureen Corrigan and her stories about stories!
Collin Shea
When I began reading this book, I knew it was written by someone who loves to read, but that was about it. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was written by someone who can actually write.
I was drawn in immediately by Corrigan's analysis of the female extreme adventure tale, particularly as compared and contrasted to the male extreme adventure tale. I was further intrigued by her discussion of Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, women who wrote in the 1800s, but about topics with which When I began reading this book, I knew it was written by someone who loves to read, but that was about it. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was written by someone who can actually write.
I was drawn in immediately by Corrigan's analysis of the female extreme adventure tale, particularly as compared and contrasted to the male extreme adventure tale. I was further intrigued by her discussion of Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, women who wrote in the 1800s, but about topics with which women today still struggle.....the "marriage market", the fear of solitude or even worse, "solitude in the company of a husband who essentially misunderstands you".
Corrigan provides wonderful descriptions of what it's like to be psychically sucked in by a book and of "bounderbys" lacking a part of their soul because they don't appreciate books beyond mere commodities.
I wasn't quite as intrigued by her chapters on hard-boiled detective fiction or catholic martyr stories, simply because I'm not interested in either of those genres, but that's not to say that I didn't find them interesting enough to read.
In the end, this was a thoroughly enjoyable, thought-provoking and worthwile read.
As I write this now, thumbing back through the chapters, its most redeeming value for me is that while reading it I felt that I was sharing a secret experience with someone who understands that to love books means that you have to touch them....feel the paper the words are written on, feel the binding as it gives a bit more each time, touch the edges as they fray.
Meg
Ugh. I was supposed to like this. The title was fantastic. But good grief, this book went beyond kitsch. I felt a little apprehensive when the author was dismissing really great authors like Jean Rhys and Toni Morrison in favor of authors I'd never encountered before. But I hadn't read those authors so I stopped and picked up a couple of the books she waxed poetic about.

Corrigan has a theme she returns to her reading and this novel of a genre of books she refers to as female adventure stories, Ugh. I was supposed to like this. The title was fantastic. But good grief, this book went beyond kitsch. I felt a little apprehensive when the author was dismissing really great authors like Jean Rhys and Toni Morrison in favor of authors I'd never encountered before. But I hadn't read those authors so I stopped and picked up a couple of the books she waxed poetic about.

Corrigan has a theme she returns to her reading and this novel of a genre of books she refers to as female adventure stories, stories that show the harrowing adventures women face in the home, taking care of obligations and family, etc. It's an interesting thesis because much male literature does focus on outward adventure bound themes, but as women weren't always allowed to go globe trotting, their stories focused on emotionally rich moments found in smaller settings. It's a great thesis -- but while she could choose amazing examples of this, she does not. She chooses trite one-dimensional novels with flat characters where ridiculously unflawed and perfect heroines battle against an unjust patriarchal society. The novels she sites as paragons of virtue read like white-anglo-saxon-protestant-feminist porn.

But then again, so does her own memoir narrative that she weaves into the discussion of novels she admires. Her journey to China to adopt a Chinese baby is her own personal female adventure story and it was as morally complex and intellectually introspective as her lifetime movie chick lit book list. 2 stars cause it does take a lot of chutzpah for a book critic to write a book.
Sarah
This book is written by the book reviewer for Fresh Air on NPR, which sounded great on the flap. Little did I know, I should have stopped at the introduction. The intro was great, talking about developing and retaining a love of books throughout a lifetime. The author discusses reading as a way of searching for authenticity among books as the basis for her passion for fiction. Being out of school and understanding this is important to her ongoing development and learning, something to which I ca This book is written by the book reviewer for Fresh Air on NPR, which sounded great on the flap. Little did I know, I should have stopped at the introduction. The intro was great, talking about developing and retaining a love of books throughout a lifetime. The author discusses reading as a way of searching for authenticity among books as the basis for her passion for fiction. Being out of school and understanding this is important to her ongoing development and learning, something to which I can completely relate. The author may her gotten her love of literature from her dad, but relishes describing, talking, and reviewing of books to the audience of people like her mother, who is a non reader. I like that idea and always believed that people who don’t like reading are just reading the wrong thing, or have been described great books in a way that sounds unappealing. Intro? Great. The remaining chapters deal with three types of books that the Corrigan loves, the female action-adventure (giving away all the secrets of Jayne Eyre, which I have not read yet), the mystery (which I dislike, but understand why they are appealing to many) and the Catholic fiction (no comment). These chapters are mingled with the author’s autobiography which seemed unnecessarily long and detailed. These remaining chapters, edited properly, would have make a great literary article, but are too drawn out for a whole book. Read the intro, and her book lists at the back and call it a day.
Donna
A book about books. Corrigan is the book reviewer for Fresh Air on NPR. I'll read anything with a title like "losing myself in books." Corrigan divides her work into three major sections: 1) women's high adventure; 2) mysteries and detectives; and 3) Catholic stories from her girlhood. I can relate to all three.

In Corrigan's definition, "high adventure" for women includes the marriage market which in pre-feminist eras could make or break a girl. She claims Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre are A book about books. Corrigan is the book reviewer for Fresh Air on NPR. I'll read anything with a title like "losing myself in books." Corrigan divides her work into three major sections: 1) women's high adventure; 2) mysteries and detectives; and 3) Catholic stories from her girlhood. I can relate to all three.

In Corrigan's definition, "high adventure" for women includes the marriage market which in pre-feminist eras could make or break a girl. She claims Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre are the epitome of what she is putting in this category. She also relates her own family story as part of this section.

Detective mysteries are my favorite books and hers too. She claims the greatest is The Maltese Falcon which I would have trouble arguing with. In this category you can find just about the only description of day-to-day work in fiction.

I deduced from internal evidence that Corrigan is two years younger than me, but in Catholic girlhood in the 60s that makes little difference. While I was not as familiar with the "Karen" books nor the "Tom Dooley" books, I do know what she means about "secular martyrs" being held up for admiration by the nuns for our "enjoyment."

I enjoyed this book very much, although every once in a while the stream of consciousness reflection back to her own life sometimes got away from her. I am planning to read her book on Gatsby next.
Roberta
This is Corrigan's auto-biography in books--what she has read and how they influenced and reflected her life. Corrigan reads a different set of material than I do--books a PhD in literature would read. Authors and books I've never heard of. Classics. Nevertheless, in the bibliography, it was interesting for me to also find some books I have enjoyed, particularly mysteries. I thoroughly enjoyed Chapter Three called "They're Writing Songs of Love, but Not for Me;" Gaudy Night and Other Alternative This is Corrigan's auto-biography in books--what she has read and how they influenced and reflected her life. Corrigan reads a different set of material than I do--books a PhD in literature would read. Authors and books I've never heard of. Classics. Nevertheless, in the bibliography, it was interesting for me to also find some books I have enjoyed, particularly mysteries. I thoroughly enjoyed Chapter Three called "They're Writing Songs of Love, but Not for Me;" Gaudy Night and Other Alternatives to the Traditional "Mating, Dating, and Procreating" Plot! Here she writes about feminism and how it played out (and didn't) in detectives like Nancy Drew, Dorothy Sayers' Harriet Vane (who marries Lord Peter Wimsey), Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski, and others.

Corrigan's description of her own wedding goes like this: (It) "was less like the final section of Jane Eyre and more like the last frantic hitch-up scene in The Taming of the Shrew. . . Wedding photos suggest that (my) dress looked more flamenco dancer than Hollywood glamour. . .The out-of-town guests (including my parents) who stayed at the local top-of-the-line hotel (were) woken up by telephone calls from prostitutes soliciting customers!"

Check it out--particularly if you're a mystery fan--or an Austin fan--or a Barbara Pym fan!

Anne Nerison
Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading took me a while to get into, as the first chapter, focused on women's "extreme adventure" stories (think Victorian literature such as Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice) turned out not to be my cup of tea. But the book really picked up for me with Maureen Corrigan relating her own "extreme adventure" of infertility and adopting a baby girl from China. From there, I was hooked. The next two chapters focused heavily on detective stories of various stripes (which I return Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading took me a while to get into, as the first chapter, focused on women's "extreme adventure" stories (think Victorian literature such as Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice) turned out not to be my cup of tea. But the book really picked up for me with Maureen Corrigan relating her own "extreme adventure" of infertility and adopting a baby girl from China. From there, I was hooked. The next two chapters focused heavily on detective stories of various stripes (which I return to again and again), followed by a small section on her dad's time in the Merchant Marines (here, I was reminded of my grandpa's stories of his time in the same), and a chapter on Catholic martyr stories (which I was hesitant to get into, but really enjoyed. I may have been raised post-Vatican II, but I can still relate).

Corrigan's voice was friendly, approachable, and humorous without going over the top, the type of person I can see getting along with—not least of which is because we have some of the same taste in books. My to-be-read list grew so much. Her fervor for reading and for the books she writes about is contagious. I'm not sure if she's written other books since, but if so, I may have to search them out. If nothing else, this one will have to be revisited—perhaps after reading a few of her recommended reads.
jill
I ran into one of my co-workers while I was reading this, and she suggested that I just make a copy of the cover and turn it into a dust jacket to transfer from book to book. The title really is probably the best part of the book.
My favorite section of the book was her discussion of detective fiction, which I also read a lot. I don't have the Catholic background that the author does, so the in-depth discussion of Catholic martyr books she goes into was mostly lost on me. I think she went a littl I ran into one of my co-workers while I was reading this, and she suggested that I just make a copy of the cover and turn it into a dust jacket to transfer from book to book. The title really is probably the best part of the book.
My favorite section of the book was her discussion of detective fiction, which I also read a lot. I don't have the Catholic background that the author does, so the in-depth discussion of Catholic martyr books she goes into was mostly lost on me. I think she went a little too far into her analysis of some of the books -- given that most of her audience may not have read one or more of the books she really focuses on, her detailed analysis kind of drags. Most of the points she makes could have been done more efficiently.
Still, I liked her voice, simultaneously educated and (largely) unpretentious. I couldn't identify with the semi-lapsed Catholicism, but the lapsed English major thing I get. I'm not sure I buy into her argument of the feminine extreme adventure narrative, but it's an interesting way of looking at certain classics. And I picked up the term "learned androgyny" for the female reading experience. Also, she reminded me that I've been wanting to read Gaudy Night, so maybe I'll finally pick that up when I get my Baltimore library card.
Sera
This book is a book about books. Well kind of... The author seems to have had difficulty in deciding whether she wanted to write a book on literary theory or to write about how certain books have had an impact on her life. Corrigan raises some interesting points on the female versus male extreme adventure reads and delves into the importance of detective fiction and the role of Catholic books in both literature and on her life, but frankly, I found the latter two subjects to be quite dull. Corri This book is a book about books. Well kind of... The author seems to have had difficulty in deciding whether she wanted to write a book on literary theory or to write about how certain books have had an impact on her life. Corrigan raises some interesting points on the female versus male extreme adventure reads and delves into the importance of detective fiction and the role of Catholic books in both literature and on her life, but frankly, I found the latter two subjects to be quite dull. Corrigan has led an interesting life in some ways, and when she wrote about going to China to adopt her daughter, Molly, that's when the pace and interest of the book picked up for me. Too bad that there's not more of Corrigan in the book. Corrigan's very different relationships with each of her parents also piqued my interest, but Corrigan merely skims the surface and fails to offer any real insight on the impact that these relationships viz-a-viz her reading or her life in general.

Corrigan also includes a list of her "good reads" at the end of the book, but more than half of the books on the list, didn't sound appealing to me at all. Corrigan is a book reviewer on NPR's Fresh Air so you should catch her there if you have any interest.
Erin
Purse book. Your enjoyment of this book is probably going to hinge largely upon whether you are a. Catholic, b. from the Bronx, and/or c. a big fan of JANE EYRE, THE MALTESE FALCON, KAREN, WITH LOVE FROM KAREN and the works of Tom Dooley. Which I'm not.

For me the only redeeming factors were her discussion of the Beany Malone series (as an example of Catholic martyr literature) and some of her personal biographical information, but even much of that was a bit too self-important for me. This is a Purse book. Your enjoyment of this book is probably going to hinge largely upon whether you are a. Catholic, b. from the Bronx, and/or c. a big fan of JANE EYRE, THE MALTESE FALCON, KAREN, WITH LOVE FROM KAREN and the works of Tom Dooley. Which I'm not.

For me the only redeeming factors were her discussion of the Beany Malone series (as an example of Catholic martyr literature) and some of her personal biographical information, but even much of that was a bit too self-important for me. This is a woman who is inordinately proud of attending graduate school at Penn, which would be fine if she were in her twenties, but is a bit off-putting for a woman in her forties who has, seemingly, accomplished a great deal since then.

I will also say that I appreciated the quote on the back, "It's not that I don't like people, it's just that there always comes a moment when I'm in the company of others - even my nearest and dearest - when I'd rather be reading a book." I'm guessing a lot of goodreads users can relate to that!
Margo Brooks


Part literary theory, part memoir, this was an interesting book, but over analytical for me. My problem with the book is that Corrigan and I have little in common in our taste in books. In fact she described precisely my feelings about her book when she described her own feelings about reading Chinese adoption memoirs. The experience described was all wrong for my own relationship to books. Additionally, I got lost in the discussions of the first and second generation feminist movements. I wish

Part literary theory, part memoir, this was an interesting book, but over analytical for me. My problem with the book is that Corrigan and I have little in common in our taste in books. In fact she described precisely my feelings about her book when she described her own feelings about reading Chinese adoption memoirs. The experience described was all wrong for my own relationship to books. Additionally, I got lost in the discussions of the first and second generation feminist movements. I wish they had been defined because I am just that much too young to know what she was trying to get out with her discussion. The discussion was tied up in a theory about female extreme adventure plots involving feats of suffering, rather than physical challenges. It was a hard theory for me to buy. I could see glimpses of what she meant by it, but my post feminist reading made her theory seem outdated. That said, I don't regret listening to the book. It is always interesting to inhabit another's heart and mind for a little while.
Monica
I was really looking forward to this book, but unfortunately I wish I could praise it more highly than I will. Part of this is from misplaced expectations about the subject matter of the book; I expected it to be about Corrigan’s time as a reader for the Pulitzer prize and her work for NPR. Instead, Corrigan used her chapters in the book to offer mini-literature-lessons similar to her Georgetown classroom, choosing Women’s Extreme-Adventure stories, Working for a Living, and Catholic Martyr Stor I was really looking forward to this book, but unfortunately I wish I could praise it more highly than I will. Part of this is from misplaced expectations about the subject matter of the book; I expected it to be about Corrigan’s time as a reader for the Pulitzer prize and her work for NPR. Instead, Corrigan used her chapters in the book to offer mini-literature-lessons similar to her Georgetown classroom, choosing Women’s Extreme-Adventure stories, Working for a Living, and Catholic Martyr Stories as her focus themes. Like her Gatsby book, she used the phrase “hard-boiled” so many times I thought she had an egg obsession. I was interested in these themes she chose, but did not get a good sense of her own biography, choices and experiences through her life. I suspect my displeasure lies more in expectations than in content, but I really didn’t enjoy this nearly as much as I hoped when I pulled it off my shelf.
Courtney
I think this might be something only to be enjoyed by an English major and after reading the Intro. I'm wondering how she can possibly be employed as a critic?

In this book she focuses on Women's Adventure stories, Catholic martyr stories, and mysteries. I don't enjoy ANY of those genre. And I found the author to be completely wrapped up in herself.

I don't know if anyone can enjoy a book about what someone else likes to read... I think it's just too personal. What I like brings me joy, but will a I think this might be something only to be enjoyed by an English major and after reading the Intro. I'm wondering how she can possibly be employed as a critic?

In this book she focuses on Women's Adventure stories, Catholic martyr stories, and mysteries. I don't enjoy ANY of those genre. And I found the author to be completely wrapped up in herself.

I don't know if anyone can enjoy a book about what someone else likes to read... I think it's just too personal. What I like brings me joy, but will anyone else care to read about it? Especially if I have a Martha-Stewart-esque attitude about it? I'm thinking no...

I have come to the conclusion that just because you review books for NPR doesn't mean you're a great writer. Some people have opportunities thrown into their laps. I'm sure there are thousands of people who could do her job on NPR.

But I really liked the title :) I liked holding it up so that Sydney could read it while she was trying to talk to me :)
Tracy
I joked with my family that I could have written this book, given the title. After reading it, I felt like I could have and I could not have.
I could have written it because, as Maureen Corrigan's subtitle states, I've lost and found myself in books. Books have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and have helped me to become the person I am now.
I could not have written this because I am not a scholar. I would not have been able to find the theme of "Women's Extreme-Adventure Sto I joked with my family that I could have written this book, given the title. After reading it, I felt like I could have and I could not have.
I could have written it because, as Maureen Corrigan's subtitle states, I've lost and found myself in books. Books have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and have helped me to become the person I am now.
I could not have written this because I am not a scholar. I would not have been able to find the theme of "Women's Extreme-Adventure Stories" in "Jane Eyre" or "Pride and Prejudice" and then explain it properly. I would not have made the connection that hard-boiled detective stories were in fact, novels about work that gave a voice to the working class. And the genre of Catholic martyrdom was not one that I was even aware of.
I liked that Corrigan was not snobbish about the books she enjoyed. I liked her list of books at the end of the book. And I especially liked her title.
Kendall
This book reads more like an essay for a literary journal, for the most part. Though she does talk about her favorite genres, and about her family and personal life, it lacks something. I don't know what.

The one thing that I LOVED, however, was the introduction. All twenty pages of it.
I may just tear out this intro and read it again and again.

There are many points in the introduction that made me stop, re-read, and soak up what she is able to put into words, such as:

1. "I learned, firsthand, ab This book reads more like an essay for a literary journal, for the most part. Though she does talk about her favorite genres, and about her family and personal life, it lacks something. I don't know what.

The one thing that I LOVED, however, was the introduction. All twenty pages of it.
I may just tear out this intro and read it again and again.

There are many points in the introduction that made me stop, re-read, and soak up what she is able to put into words, such as:

1. "I learned, firsthand, about the void that all devoted readers dread- the void that yawns just past the last page of whatever good book we're currently reading."

2. "Books are wayward. You can begin a book assuming that you're entering one kind of world, getting one kind of message, only to find out that beneath that story lurks another kind of tale- or two or three- altogether."
It is worth the read just for the beginning. Then you can decide whether to continue.
Erica
Maureen Corrigan -- professor, literary critic and reviewer for NPR talks about her love of books and how particular genres shaped her life.

A cross between lit crit and memoir, Corrigan makes some interesting arguments -- her idea of a Female Extreme Adventure as being something more internal and consisting of years, rather than a multi-month trek in the wilderness favored by rustic men, is compelling.

She weaves stories from her own life into the books she turns to for comfort and guidance, and Maureen Corrigan -- professor, literary critic and reviewer for NPR talks about her love of books and how particular genres shaped her life.

A cross between lit crit and memoir, Corrigan makes some interesting arguments -- her idea of a Female Extreme Adventure as being something more internal and consisting of years, rather than a multi-month trek in the wilderness favored by rustic men, is compelling.

She weaves stories from her own life into the books she turns to for comfort and guidance, and points out some obvious points (girls who read too much Austen or other strong women writers believe men like girls who are witty and smart), and others that readers will come to at different points in their lives (eg how the narrative of who we are and what we have become has been inextricably shaped by the books we read when we were young).

I got lost in her extensive musings on the Catholic martyr lit, but for those who were raised with the genre it may in fact be very poignant.
Ioanna
It's not as good as so we read on, her new book on the great Gatsby, which is great. There are later chapters about Catholic girl literature and other personal preoccupations that I started skipping through. The title of course is priceless. The beginning chapters are fun and interesting, and her love for her original model for being a reader--her father--is always truly touching, and very worth reading. She's an interesting, fun person and I wld recommend both her books, I just couldn't go all It's not as good as so we read on, her new book on the great Gatsby, which is great. There are later chapters about Catholic girl literature and other personal preoccupations that I started skipping through. The title of course is priceless. The beginning chapters are fun and interesting, and her love for her original model for being a reader--her father--is always truly touching, and very worth reading. She's an interesting, fun person and I wld recommend both her books, I just couldn't go all the through with her on this one: her interest in how women get to be heroes in adventures of their own is sound and worth noting, but maybe a lot of those books--esp. Victorian lit are not my favorite things. Also, she reviews books for Npr and you can see her reviews online and I've picked up a lot of interesting books to read their.
Ann M
This is a memoir by the NPR book critic. If you can get past the author's church-mouse timidity, it's pretty good, although she keeps reminding the reader how conservative and scared she was, and how far she's come, which doesn't seem all that far. Like many of her generation (Baby Boomers), she confuses opportunity with talent. There are plenty of talented younger people out there, but the opportunities -- she teaches at a university -- have dried up. So she has a narrow outlook, although she w This is a memoir by the NPR book critic. If you can get past the author's church-mouse timidity, it's pretty good, although she keeps reminding the reader how conservative and scared she was, and how far she's come, which doesn't seem all that far. Like many of her generation (Baby Boomers), she confuses opportunity with talent. There are plenty of talented younger people out there, but the opportunities -- she teaches at a university -- have dried up. So she has a narrow outlook, although she writes well enough. She has a good idea, about women's "heroic" stories of sacrifice, self-abnegation, caretaking and the like, being the equivalent of men's quests and adventures, but she beats it to death, imo, toward the end of the book. A lot of that could have been cut, or put into an appendix for anyone who was interested.
Martin Spellman
Bad BloodThis is enjoyable and, like all good 'criticism', leads you on to other books. I have already obtained Lorna Sage's Bad Blood and John Bayley's Elegy for Iris, and am glad I did, on her recommendation. Maureen Corrigan relates books to life and considers the effect they had on her. I feel she sometimes spends too long writing of her family and not enough on analysing books. Your own family and relatives are normally only interesting to yourself and not to others outside who have their o Bad BloodThis is enjoyable and, like all good 'criticism', leads you on to other books. I have already obtained Lorna Sage's Bad Blood and John Bayley's Elegy for Iris, and am glad I did, on her recommendation. Maureen Corrigan relates books to life and considers the effect they had on her. I feel she sometimes spends too long writing of her family and not enough on analysing books. Your own family and relatives are normally only interesting to yourself and not to others outside who have their own to keep track of.
Kelsey
There were lots of things to love about this book, the narratives about being one of the only women in a P.H.D program, exploring the effect that reading has had on the author's life and relationships, and the overall attitude towards being able to read all the time. Unfortunately I feel like there was too much analysis of the texts she was using as evidence. Instead of a reflection on how books effected her life it seemed to be more of deconstruction of a text and then not enough connection to There were lots of things to love about this book, the narratives about being one of the only women in a P.H.D program, exploring the effect that reading has had on the author's life and relationships, and the overall attitude towards being able to read all the time. Unfortunately I feel like there was too much analysis of the texts she was using as evidence. Instead of a reflection on how books effected her life it seemed to be more of deconstruction of a text and then not enough connection to her life at the end of it all. The analysis and the life story don't blend well enough. Despite understanding where she's coming from, and the point she is trying to make, it doesn't work for me. Overall I loved reading her comments about the books she's read and about her life, but they feel like two separate things most of the time.
Blaire
I thought this was a very uneven effort. Naturally, I enjoyed the parts about books with which I'm familiar much more than the other parts. Luckily, I've read most of the books the author mentions. I particularly liked what she had to say about detective fiction. I've read a lot of it, and when I'm in the mood I thoroughly enjoy it. Ms. Corrigan is also a fan, but has a different and very personal perspective that I found interesting.

She lost me in the last chapter, though. The Catholic literat I thought this was a very uneven effort. Naturally, I enjoyed the parts about books with which I'm familiar much more than the other parts. Luckily, I've read most of the books the author mentions. I particularly liked what she had to say about detective fiction. I've read a lot of it, and when I'm in the mood I thoroughly enjoy it. Ms. Corrigan is also a fan, but has a different and very personal perspective that I found interesting.

She lost me in the last chapter, though. The Catholic literature that she read as a school girl may be of interest to those who went to parochial school in the 50's and 60's, but it held absolutely no interest for me.

I read books like this one at least partly to get reading ideas. The only thing I was able to glean from it is that it might be fun to re-read Dorothy Sayer's Gaudy Night.
Margaret K
I listened to this book concurrently with Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction by Sue Townsend. That book was followed by an author interview in which she described how it was to grow up a book-worm in a world where noone else shared that interest. So here are two good books for book-worms or former book-worms. Maureen Corrigan's autobiographical book has insights on both the catholic culture and academia. As she points out reading tons of books will not make you a better person, but I listened to this book concurrently with Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction by Sue Townsend. That book was followed by an author interview in which she described how it was to grow up a book-worm in a world where noone else shared that interest. So here are two good books for book-worms or former book-worms. Maureen Corrigan's autobiographical book has insights on both the catholic culture and academia. As she points out reading tons of books will not make you a better person, but it has made her a good and enjoyable writer.
Adrian Mole and the WMD is a delightful story from the perspective of a bookworm who works in a bookstore. The humor is character based and such that you can anticipate the traps that the characters will fall into as they proceed in their courses. I will look forward to reading more books by this author.
Dana Nucera
This book could be interesting for someone who wants to get a feel for what it would be like to be a 'reader' for a living. This author reviews books for a living. And although it might sound like the best job in the world, I realized that I want to read what I want to read not what someone else wants me to read. I was not able to finish the book because I think dissecting a book takes some of the fun out of the sheer enjoyment of reading. I have read some of the books that this author mentions This book could be interesting for someone who wants to get a feel for what it would be like to be a 'reader' for a living. This author reviews books for a living. And although it might sound like the best job in the world, I realized that I want to read what I want to read not what someone else wants me to read. I was not able to finish the book because I think dissecting a book takes some of the fun out of the sheer enjoyment of reading. I have read some of the books that this author mentions throughout her book, but others I can't imagine picking up and reading. She dissects different genres of books and gives a good feel of the changing of the times and how that has affected an authors way of writing. The only reason I gave up on it is because there are 'so many books, so little time' to read. I had to move on.
Dina
I was familiar with Maureen Corrigan and have listened to her on Fresh Air and NPR on a number of occasions therefore I was very excited about reading "Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading".

While I found parts of the book to be “ work” (her discussion of books I was not familiar with) I enjoyed her discussion of books I had read.

"Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading" is a dense personal memoir and literary exploration of some of Ms. Corrigan’s favorite books. She spent time discussing books by Jane Austen, the I was familiar with Maureen Corrigan and have listened to her on Fresh Air and NPR on a number of occasions therefore I was very excited about reading "Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading".

While I found parts of the book to be “ work” (her discussion of books I was not familiar with) I enjoyed her discussion of books I had read.

"Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading" is a dense personal memoir and literary exploration of some of Ms. Corrigan’s favorite books. She spent time discussing books by Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Dashiell Hammett , Pete Hamill and Robert Parker just to name a few.

For me the most enjoyable parts dealt with her personal history, family, adopting her daughter from China and other important people in her life.
I would recommend the book to "book lovers" especially those with a more diverse reading list than my own.
Lani
I didn't enjoy this as much as the other book I'd read about reading (that I can't find for the life of me).

As someone who wasn't very familiar with the genres discussed in this book, I didn't get a ton out of it. This was a book that was decent, but I didn't enjoy through no real fault of the book itself. It was a book more about the author than books sometimes, and our life stories have very little in common. The genres she discusses - detective fiction and Catholic morality tales aren't reall I didn't enjoy this as much as the other book I'd read about reading (that I can't find for the life of me).

As someone who wasn't very familiar with the genres discussed in this book, I didn't get a ton out of it. This was a book that was decent, but I didn't enjoy through no real fault of the book itself. It was a book more about the author than books sometimes, and our life stories have very little in common. The genres she discusses - detective fiction and Catholic morality tales aren't really things I know much about.

Any book about reading is going to appeal to me to a certain extent, and really, the title alone is enough to make me smile. Clearly the author and I are kindred spirits on some level.

Despite not being thrilled with this, I hate to rate it lower than 3 stars. It was well-written and enjoyable, just didn't quite click with me.
Anne
I have long enjoyed Maureen Corrigan's book reviews on NPR. In this book, which is a memoir of her life with books, we learn about her upbringing, her education, various jobs, marriage and parenthood, along with a subjective list of different books that highlighted different phases of her life. She talks about some of the old classics, such as Bronte and Austen novels, as well as genres such as the female extreme adventure tale, hard-boiled detective stories, and childhood favorites. Baby boomer I have long enjoyed Maureen Corrigan's book reviews on NPR. In this book, which is a memoir of her life with books, we learn about her upbringing, her education, various jobs, marriage and parenthood, along with a subjective list of different books that highlighted different phases of her life. She talks about some of the old classics, such as Bronte and Austen novels, as well as genres such as the female extreme adventure tale, hard-boiled detective stories, and childhood favorites. Baby boomers will relate to some of her stories, and I had to laugh out loud as she recalled her years in Catholic school and some of the books of that time, which she dubs, "Catholic Secular-Martyr Tales".

In the print book, she includes an index of many of the books and authors that she mentions. The audio version of the book is read by the author herself - an enjoyable addition to my daily walks.

Nikki
I love reading books this like, about people's personal relationship with the books they've read over the years, that have shaped them and have had a profound influence on them. How much I like this kind of book largely depends on the novels that are discussed, and that's why this particular book doesn't stand out from the pack for me. Corrigan spends a lot of time on feminism and feminist books and that just doesn't interest me very much. The same goes for the last chapter on books influenced b I love reading books this like, about people's personal relationship with the books they've read over the years, that have shaped them and have had a profound influence on them. How much I like this kind of book largely depends on the novels that are discussed, and that's why this particular book doesn't stand out from the pack for me. Corrigan spends a lot of time on feminism and feminist books and that just doesn't interest me very much. The same goes for the last chapter on books influenced by Roman Catholicism. There were also some personal events described whose relevance I didn't understand. For example, I don't see what the adoption of her daughter has to do with literature. Still, this book introduced many novels I hadn't heard of before and made me excited to read books I've been meaning to read for years.
Aneesa
One of my guilty and self-satisfying pleasures is reading about other people reading, so I enjoyed this memoir, but the author's arguments and the many examples that accompany each, while extremely long (she summarizes the plots of entire series in such detail that the book should be labeled a spoiler), don't ring true. She didn't convince or show me that female work and suffering constitute an "extreme-adventure," how detective fiction is surprisingly socially liberal, or why/how Catholics are One of my guilty and self-satisfying pleasures is reading about other people reading, so I enjoyed this memoir, but the author's arguments and the many examples that accompany each, while extremely long (she summarizes the plots of entire series in such detail that the book should be labeled a spoiler), don't ring true. She didn't convince or show me that female work and suffering constitute an "extreme-adventure," how detective fiction is surprisingly socially liberal, or why/how Catholics are different from the rest of us. I was interested in the argument that novels used to be about work and now only detective fiction is--but she failed when attempting to prove its realism vs. idealism. In truth, this was a book about the author's favorite books, and why they personally resonate with her.
Kara
I liked Maureen Corrigan's explanation of women's extreme-adventure stories. She put into words what I have thought about how women are often portrayed in literature. They are not allowed to be leaders in the public sphere and the hardships and selflessness are just to be expected. Nothing irritates me more that hearing a man say he doesn't read women authors because what they write about is unimportant.

Corrigan's take on the detective novel and what it brings to readers is interesting too. This I liked Maureen Corrigan's explanation of women's extreme-adventure stories. She put into words what I have thought about how women are often portrayed in literature. They are not allowed to be leaders in the public sphere and the hardships and selflessness are just to be expected. Nothing irritates me more that hearing a man say he doesn't read women authors because what they write about is unimportant.

Corrigan's take on the detective novel and what it brings to readers is interesting too. This is a place with strong women who work in jobs that show them equal to men. I have not read very many of these novels but these women characters do show an unaplogetic life choice that needs to be put out there.

The parts of the authors personal life she shares is a little sporadic and not well organized.
Allison
The title and the first paragraph of the introduction were what made me buy this book. It as a splurge, but what avid reader could resist....
"It's not that I don't like people. It's just that when I'm in the company of others - even my nearest and dearest-there always comes a moment when I'd rather be reading a book."

The author is a book reviewer for NPR's Fresh Air, professor and writer.

The book itself was just okay, I probably would have enjoyed it more if I was more familiar with the books The title and the first paragraph of the introduction were what made me buy this book. It as a splurge, but what avid reader could resist....
"It's not that I don't like people. It's just that when I'm in the company of others - even my nearest and dearest-there always comes a moment when I'd rather be reading a book."

The author is a book reviewer for NPR's Fresh Air, professor and writer.

The book itself was just okay, I probably would have enjoyed it more if I was more familiar with the books she discussed or if I had not been too lazy to find a dictionary. However, it did make me want to rush out to the nearest used book store to pick up the books she discussed and take an English class.
Sallie
My only quibble so far is Corrigan saying Lydia was the 3rd Bennet daughter in Pride & Prejudice - NOT! I know Mary and Kitty don't count for much in the book, but they are characters in it after all. Humpf....

Plus she seems to like the Brontes way better than I do, but then many people like them way better than I do ;-}

6/30/12 I finished this book, finally. I enjoyed it, but didn't love it. Although Corrigan may have explained why the Beanie Malone books have never grabbed me that much. I My only quibble so far is Corrigan saying Lydia was the 3rd Bennet daughter in Pride & Prejudice - NOT! I know Mary and Kitty don't count for much in the book, but they are characters in it after all. Humpf....

Plus she seems to like the Brontes way better than I do, but then many people like them way better than I do ;-}

6/30/12 I finished this book, finally. I enjoyed it, but didn't love it. Although Corrigan may have explained why the Beanie Malone books have never grabbed me that much. I always liked Mary Fred better than Beanie, so I stopped when I realized B would be in all the other books as the main character. Plus, I was not raised Catholic, so I don't connect with that part of the characters at all.
Laura
I read this book some months back. I belong to BookSwim.
For those of you who are not familiar with BookSwim, it is a book rental club that works like Netflix. You make a selection of books, pick how many you want at a time and they send them to you. You send them back when you're finished and they pay the shipping. This book was one of their available selections and the title intrigued me. It is non-fiction. Maureen Corrigan reviews books on NPR. She has literary credentials. She basically write I read this book some months back. I belong to BookSwim.
For those of you who are not familiar with BookSwim, it is a book rental club that works like Netflix. You make a selection of books, pick how many you want at a time and they send them to you. You send them back when you're finished and they pay the shipping. This book was one of their available selections and the title intrigued me. It is non-fiction. Maureen Corrigan reviews books on NPR. She has literary credentials. She basically writes about her experience with books she has read over the years. I liked this book. Her writing style is pleasantly readable. At the end of the book, she gives a recommended reading list. It was an enjoyable foray into the world of non-fiction.
Sara
I was really excited about reading this at first. My dad is a huge fan of her show and so it made me excited just thinking about all the books should would be talking about. Once I started I was so disappointed that I almost abandoned it. She is so pretentious and full of herself that I instantly disliked her. It was like she had to prove that yes she is a college graduate which means that she is the ultimate authority on books. She used annoyingly large words just to show she could. I dislike p I was really excited about reading this at first. My dad is a huge fan of her show and so it made me excited just thinking about all the books should would be talking about. Once I started I was so disappointed that I almost abandoned it. She is so pretentious and full of herself that I instantly disliked her. It was like she had to prove that yes she is a college graduate which means that she is the ultimate authority on books. She used annoyingly large words just to show she could. I dislike people that act above others for whatever reason. I think that it is great when someone wants to share their love of reading and talk about the books they love to read but there is no call to be snotty about it. But if you don't mind snotty and pretentious it is a good read about books.
Jan
Audio version, but will likely borrow the print so I can jot down various reads. Turning the light on at 3 a.m. so I can write down some author or title, then trying to read my hen scratching just doesn't cut it.

I often find book reviewers don't rate my favorite reads or authors but they give me ideas. Some of her reasons for reading mirror my reasons. She has helped me begin to understand why I gravitate to certain themes or subjects without knowing why. However, many of her favorable reviews - Audio version, but will likely borrow the print so I can jot down various reads. Turning the light on at 3 a.m. so I can write down some author or title, then trying to read my hen scratching just doesn't cut it.

I often find book reviewers don't rate my favorite reads or authors but they give me ideas. Some of her reasons for reading mirror my reasons. She has helped me begin to understand why I gravitate to certain themes or subjects without knowing why. However, many of her favorable reviews - books I've read or tried to read - were never completed due to boredom or pure distaste for the subject, style, simply, that I didn't understand them.

OK, so I'm years past knowing of this read.
Joseph
For years I've enjoyed Maureen Corrigan's book reviews on NPR's Fresh Air, so it was natural that this book would end up on my to-read list. It was through Corrigan, thankfully, that I first heard of Reed Farrel Coleman, and I knew that her tastes in other genres were pretty broad. As a result, I enjoyed this memoir of hers, particularly because I had read many (but not all) of the books she references throughout this work. A word of warning, however: if you haven't read Jane Eyre, the first thi For years I've enjoyed Maureen Corrigan's book reviews on NPR's Fresh Air, so it was natural that this book would end up on my to-read list. It was through Corrigan, thankfully, that I first heard of Reed Farrel Coleman, and I knew that her tastes in other genres were pretty broad. As a result, I enjoyed this memoir of hers, particularly because I had read many (but not all) of the books she references throughout this work. A word of warning, however: if you haven't read Jane Eyre, the first third of this book will seem like a hard slog, IMO.
Matthew
This book was really enjoyable. It wasn't what I initially expected because often books about books give these little analyses of popular titles mixed with bite-sized anecdotes from the author's life. I expected this book to talk more about the process of reviewing books, and the social dynamics involved in being a voracious reader.

Instead, this book contained several very substantial sections, which combined thoughtful analysis of certain literary genres with a sustained and free-roaming memoir This book was really enjoyable. It wasn't what I initially expected because often books about books give these little analyses of popular titles mixed with bite-sized anecdotes from the author's life. I expected this book to talk more about the process of reviewing books, and the social dynamics involved in being a voracious reader.

Instead, this book contained several very substantial sections, which combined thoughtful analysis of certain literary genres with a sustained and free-roaming memoir. Each section gave a "big picture" view of that genre, unfolding the kind of thoughtful consideration that can only come from someone who has spent their life studying the material.

I'm glad the book was so different from my original expectation. Good read.
Erin
It's very cool to see some accessible-to-all lit crit that looks at the bigger picture and connects one reader's favorite books to her own life. It's also really nice to see someone analyze books not usually taken seriously (detective novels, Catholic young-adult serial novels) - it's a very fresh take. Interesting book, and one I'll keep for the extensive bibliography in the back - I definitely want to read many of the books Corrigan mentioned. The only downside: while I was reading this, no on It's very cool to see some accessible-to-all lit crit that looks at the bigger picture and connects one reader's favorite books to her own life. It's also really nice to see someone analyze books not usually taken seriously (detective novels, Catholic young-adult serial novels) - it's a very fresh take. Interesting book, and one I'll keep for the extensive bibliography in the back - I definitely want to read many of the books Corrigan mentioned. The only downside: while I was reading this, no one on the train asked me "What are you reading?" so that I could say the thing I almost always want to, which is "Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading". Go figure.
Barb Lathroum
This is another book that addresses the influence of reading on a writers life and writing. I have been listening to Maureen Corrigan's book reviews on NPR for years, so that I heard her voice as I read this book. We have read a lot of the same books and we are both happiest when reading a book. We are nearly the same age and attended grad school about the same time with a lot of parallel experiences. I consider Corrigan a friend even though we have never met. I am excited about exploring some o This is another book that addresses the influence of reading on a writers life and writing. I have been listening to Maureen Corrigan's book reviews on NPR for years, so that I heard her voice as I read this book. We have read a lot of the same books and we are both happiest when reading a book. We are nearly the same age and attended grad school about the same time with a lot of parallel experiences. I consider Corrigan a friend even though we have never met. I am excited about exploring some of the authors she likes but whose works I have not read. I am thinking about what I like to read in a different way. This is a book I will reread.
Robert Bateman
I wanted to like this book even more than I did. And I'm still wrestling with why I feel uneasy rating it higher. Corrigan is an excellent writer, and her style is conversational, and for the most part very enjoyable. But there seems to be a battle going on between the academic Corrigan (a university literature professor) and the popular "Fresh Air" book reviewer Corrigan (a smart, clear-headed, and knowledgeable friend). So, we get close readings of English lit classics, appreciations of hard-b I wanted to like this book even more than I did. And I'm still wrestling with why I feel uneasy rating it higher. Corrigan is an excellent writer, and her style is conversational, and for the most part very enjoyable. But there seems to be a battle going on between the academic Corrigan (a university literature professor) and the popular "Fresh Air" book reviewer Corrigan (a smart, clear-headed, and knowledgeable friend). So, we get close readings of English lit classics, appreciations of hard-boiled detective fiction, and a lot of Catholic explorations---fiction and nonfiction. I liked the book, and with the caveats I've just covered, I'd say to most of my reading friends, go for it.
Cindie Harp
This review should really be 4 and a half stars -- the half demotion because for the first 50 or so pages, I wondered, "Why am I reading this?" I found it ponderous and not terribly inviting to read the books so was describing. However, once MC started talking about her infertility struggles and her adoption of her inconsequentially (and not) Chinese daughter, I became transfixed. Perhaps because she moved from extreme adventure novels to mysteries and Catholic girlhood secular autobiographies a This review should really be 4 and a half stars -- the half demotion because for the first 50 or so pages, I wondered, "Why am I reading this?" I found it ponderous and not terribly inviting to read the books so was describing. However, once MC started talking about her infertility struggles and her adoption of her inconsequentially (and not) Chinese daughter, I became transfixed. Perhaps because she moved from extreme adventure novels to mysteries and Catholic girlhood secular autobiographies as genres, but perhaps because her own enthusiasm for these categories waxed...whatever the reason, I was as shocked by the "suddenness" of this book's end as I struggled with the first 50 pages...
Deb
Maureen Corrigan is both a professor of English Literature and a long-time book critic for NPR. She readily admits to having four thousand volumes in bookcases all around her basement walls, not to mention stacks on the dining room table, all over the bedroom floor and heaps in nearly every room in the house. This memoir is just the ticket for any inveterate reader. It will make you feel better about your passion, whether you can let those volumes go after you have read them or not. A light-hear Maureen Corrigan is both a professor of English Literature and a long-time book critic for NPR. She readily admits to having four thousand volumes in bookcases all around her basement walls, not to mention stacks on the dining room table, all over the bedroom floor and heaps in nearly every room in the house. This memoir is just the ticket for any inveterate reader. It will make you feel better about your passion, whether you can let those volumes go after you have read them or not. A light-hearted yet philosophical tone infuses this book with the joy of reading. If you like to read more than you like parties, you'll enjoy this.
Lynn
Has a great title, but not what I expected. It's more of a summary and literary criticism of lots of books I never heard of and probably wouldn't be interested in reading anyway interspersed with memoirs of the author's life. The autobiographical part was enjoyable, but the book discussions are tedious. Corrigan discusses three categories: the female extreme adventure tale, the hard boiled detective novel, and the Catholic-martyr narratives. She makes some interesting points about how these genr Has a great title, but not what I expected. It's more of a summary and literary criticism of lots of books I never heard of and probably wouldn't be interested in reading anyway interspersed with memoirs of the author's life. The autobiographical part was enjoyable, but the book discussions are tedious. Corrigan discusses three categories: the female extreme adventure tale, the hard boiled detective novel, and the Catholic-martyr narratives. She makes some interesting points about how these genres influenced people but was of little interest to me. The only category I related to was the Catholic stories, not because I'm Catholic, but because I'd read and liked the Karen books as a child.
Katherine
In this terrific book, Maureen Corrigan traces her life as a voracious bookworm. In addition, Corrigan deftly analyzes a series of her favorite books that have made the greatest impression on her over her lifetime. Throughout the text, Corrigan also explores the idea of the female adventure story while integrating her own personal adventure of adopting a baby from China.
Corrigan’s book is tightly written and thoroughly researched. Her ability to weave together such varied strands of this comple In this terrific book, Maureen Corrigan traces her life as a voracious bookworm. In addition, Corrigan deftly analyzes a series of her favorite books that have made the greatest impression on her over her lifetime. Throughout the text, Corrigan also explores the idea of the female adventure story while integrating her own personal adventure of adopting a baby from China.
Corrigan’s book is tightly written and thoroughly researched. Her ability to weave together such varied strands of this complex story is masterful. In addition, her narrative voice is one that is so inviting to the reader that it makes this story difficult to put down.
Linda
I found Maureen Corrigan’s “biblio-autobiography” much less entertaining to read than Nina Sankovitch’s “Tolstoy and the Purple Chair” which I read in December 2011. Corrigan has a doctorate in English and teaches at Georgetown University, as well as being a book reviewer for National Public Radio. She is too inclined to go off into pedantic discussions about some of the books she has read, which slowed down my enjoyment of her enjoyment of reading. There is an interesting list of recommended r I found Maureen Corrigan’s “biblio-autobiography” much less entertaining to read than Nina Sankovitch’s “Tolstoy and the Purple Chair” which I read in December 2011. Corrigan has a doctorate in English and teaches at Georgetown University, as well as being a book reviewer for National Public Radio. She is too inclined to go off into pedantic discussions about some of the books she has read, which slowed down my enjoyment of her enjoyment of reading. There is an interesting list of recommended reading at the end of the book, however.
Amy
First let me say I have a huge crush on Maureen Corrigan and have read several books she's reviewed on NPR.

That said, this book wasn't quite what I expected. Rather than "finding and losing myself in books" I got a treatise on different themes found in books Maureen's read over the years... Some it going quite in-depth. It was all a bit more scholarly than memoir....(especially the Catholic section)

I did get a couple reading recommendations out of it, and I couldn't help but hear Corrigan's slig First let me say I have a huge crush on Maureen Corrigan and have read several books she's reviewed on NPR.

That said, this book wasn't quite what I expected. Rather than "finding and losing myself in books" I got a treatise on different themes found in books Maureen's read over the years... Some it going quite in-depth. It was all a bit more scholarly than memoir....(especially the Catholic section)

I did get a couple reading recommendations out of it, and I couldn't help but hear Corrigan's slightly nasal drawl in my head as I was reading.
Laura
It was nice to spend time with someone who loves words, books, and ideas, found a career reviewing books, and didn't enjoy the process of getting a PhD in English. I've always loved stories, but dreaded my required criticism class, and Corrigan's musings on how hard-boiled detective fiction helped get her through grad school was refreshingly honest. It's as much memoir as book recommendations, so depending on what you're looking for, that will either be enjoyable or irritating. I liked it, but d It was nice to spend time with someone who loves words, books, and ideas, found a career reviewing books, and didn't enjoy the process of getting a PhD in English. I've always loved stories, but dreaded my required criticism class, and Corrigan's musings on how hard-boiled detective fiction helped get her through grad school was refreshingly honest. It's as much memoir as book recommendations, so depending on what you're looking for, that will either be enjoyable or irritating. I liked it, but didn't love it, and will offer it to the other readers in my life.
Susan Grodsky
Very enjoyable. I don't listen to Corrigan's reviews on NPR so i didn't know what to expect. She is articulate, insightful, funny. Only comment is that the book does wander all over map. A discussion of Jane Eyre circles back to Amherst, Mass, and a visit to the Emily Dickinson house. We go to China, to pick up Maureen's daughter, to Philadelphia for a so-awful-it's-funny description of grad school at U-Penn, to Illinois for a reunion of her father's buddies on a destroyer escort.

But it's all g Very enjoyable. I don't listen to Corrigan's reviews on NPR so i didn't know what to expect. She is articulate, insightful, funny. Only comment is that the book does wander all over map. A discussion of Jane Eyre circles back to Amherst, Mass, and a visit to the Emily Dickinson house. We go to China, to pick up Maureen's daughter, to Philadelphia for a so-awful-it's-funny description of grad school at U-Penn, to Illinois for a reunion of her father's buddies on a destroyer escort.

But it's all good.
Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"
I didn't really care for this book and scanned through most of it. I did find a couple of things worth quoting, though.

"It's not that I don't like people. It's just that when I'm in the company of others--even my nearest and dearest--there always comes a moment when I'd rather be reading a book."
"We read literature for a lot of reasons, but two of the most compelling ones are to get out of ourselves and our own life stories and--equally important--to find ourselves by understanding our own lif I didn't really care for this book and scanned through most of it. I did find a couple of things worth quoting, though.

"It's not that I don't like people. It's just that when I'm in the company of others--even my nearest and dearest--there always comes a moment when I'd rather be reading a book."
"We read literature for a lot of reasons, but two of the most compelling ones are to get out of ourselves and our own life stories and--equally important--to find ourselves by understanding our own life stories more clearly in the context of others."
Sara
Maureen Corrigan is a professor of English literature in Washington, DC. She's the lead voice on NPR for book reviews, and, after hearing some of her reviews, I thought that her book would be an interesting read. Unfortunately, unless you have read all the books she mentions, or studied each character she relates to, you feel like a dolt. I only got halfway through before I gave up. Sadly, I didn't find myself or lose myself in this book. I really wanted to like it. Hopefully others will find it Maureen Corrigan is a professor of English literature in Washington, DC. She's the lead voice on NPR for book reviews, and, after hearing some of her reviews, I thought that her book would be an interesting read. Unfortunately, unless you have read all the books she mentions, or studied each character she relates to, you feel like a dolt. I only got halfway through before I gave up. Sadly, I didn't find myself or lose myself in this book. I really wanted to like it. Hopefully others will find it more interesting.
Kim D
Admittedly, I only selected this book because of a common surname, and because I enjoy the author's commentary on NPR. This is an average collection of what I'd call "reader's vignettes" - a focus on how certain pieces of literature impacted the author at various phases of life. The book also serves as a slightly preachy take on how one should be reading, and what one should be getting out of it. Which smacks of high school English classes (and how Ms Palmer ruined Lord of the Flies for me by ma Admittedly, I only selected this book because of a common surname, and because I enjoy the author's commentary on NPR. This is an average collection of what I'd call "reader's vignettes" - a focus on how certain pieces of literature impacted the author at various phases of life. The book also serves as a slightly preachy take on how one should be reading, and what one should be getting out of it. Which smacks of high school English classes (and how Ms Palmer ruined Lord of the Flies for me by making me analyze it to death).
Roopsi
I had intended to read Maureen Corrigan's book for awhile, particularly since she's on the Georgetown faculty. The text appears to be a selection of essays that blend lay literary analysis with memoir, but Corrigan seems a bit ambivalent about her own style. There are moments where she comes close to sharing a particular memory but changes her mind and moves on to something else. This can become tiresome. Additionally, I don't share Corrigan's appreciation for detective fiction. Her depictions o I had intended to read Maureen Corrigan's book for awhile, particularly since she's on the Georgetown faculty. The text appears to be a selection of essays that blend lay literary analysis with memoir, but Corrigan seems a bit ambivalent about her own style. There are moments where she comes close to sharing a particular memory but changes her mind and moves on to something else. This can become tiresome. Additionally, I don't share Corrigan's appreciation for detective fiction. Her depictions of graduate school, though, are amusing and well worth a read.
Lisa
As other Bookread comments discuss, this is a bit of a bait and switch book -- looks as if it might be about the relationship of the author and books, but actually leans towards a more academic perspective on contemporary literature. I enjoyed the bits about her father's relationship with books, and her own adventures in university teaching, becoming a reviewer, etc. I have the feeling that the format didn't do her any favors. It needs either a stronger autobiographical through-line, or to drop As other Bookread comments discuss, this is a bit of a bait and switch book -- looks as if it might be about the relationship of the author and books, but actually leans towards a more academic perspective on contemporary literature. I enjoyed the bits about her father's relationship with books, and her own adventures in university teaching, becoming a reviewer, etc. I have the feeling that the format didn't do her any favors. It needs either a stronger autobiographical through-line, or to drop some of the autobiographical frame for distinct essays.
Lara
After the initial swoon of fellowship, this wasn't holding my interest. She warns early on that a good deal of the book is spent examining common themes in mystery/detective novels, and she is also a fan of serial novels. Maybe our personal connections with books is really too...personal. Also, for someone that's read thousands of books, I found the _Little Women_ and _Pride & Prejudice_ references too frequent even in the first chapter. I did like the bit about why we read voraciously - loo After the initial swoon of fellowship, this wasn't holding my interest. She warns early on that a good deal of the book is spent examining common themes in mystery/detective novels, and she is also a fan of serial novels. Maybe our personal connections with books is really too...personal. Also, for someone that's read thousands of books, I found the _Little Women_ and _Pride & Prejudice_ references too frequent even in the first chapter. I did like the bit about why we read voraciously - looking for that Next Great Book. I'm in a hurry, and this one isn't it. Moving on.
Libby
I really liked this reading memoir by Maureen Corrigan, who also reviews books on NPR. One funny thing--it's the second time I've ever heard of "The Ragged-trousered Philanthropists." It was mentioned in "The Year of Reading Dangerously," which was the first time I'd heard of it. Something about painters in '20s England or something. Maybe I should read that next. It was also fun to read a discussion of "Karen" by Marie Killilea, which I had read in elementary school and had had no idea anyone e I really liked this reading memoir by Maureen Corrigan, who also reviews books on NPR. One funny thing--it's the second time I've ever heard of "The Ragged-trousered Philanthropists." It was mentioned in "The Year of Reading Dangerously," which was the first time I'd heard of it. Something about painters in '20s England or something. Maybe I should read that next. It was also fun to read a discussion of "Karen" by Marie Killilea, which I had read in elementary school and had had no idea anyone else had ever heard of.
Sarah
I really wanted to like this book and there are definitely some vignettes which I did enjoy. All in all though it just didn't really do it for me.

I couldn't engage with the section on the secular martyr stories and Catholic childrens' books at all which meant the latter portion of the book felt like a slog.

It seemed like, despite the details actually given, there was just something missing from this book as a whole.

Susan Bill's book 'Howard's End is on the Landing' is a much better book-and-read I really wanted to like this book and there are definitely some vignettes which I did enjoy. All in all though it just didn't really do it for me.

I couldn't engage with the section on the secular martyr stories and Catholic childrens' books at all which meant the latter portion of the book felt like a slog.

It seemed like, despite the details actually given, there was just something missing from this book as a whole.

Susan Bill's book 'Howard's End is on the Landing' is a much better book-and-reading based memoir.
Readnponder
This is my first venture into memoir about books ... and I loved it. I cheered when the author liked the same book I did. I found some new titles I want to read. I appreciate new insights she provided. E.g. detective fiction was one of the first genres to show people working at their jobs and liking it. I enjoyed the essay about the Catholic books that shaped the author's youth. Although Protestant, much of what she said rang true of the Christian fiction I cut my teeth on. Next up in bookish me This is my first venture into memoir about books ... and I loved it. I cheered when the author liked the same book I did. I found some new titles I want to read. I appreciate new insights she provided. E.g. detective fiction was one of the first genres to show people working at their jobs and liking it. I enjoyed the essay about the Catholic books that shaped the author's youth. Although Protestant, much of what she said rang true of the Christian fiction I cut my teeth on. Next up in bookish memoir is "Reading Lolita in Tehran."
Joyce
I am savouring every page of this book which so describes the life I've led as a bookworm. Especially the parts about hiding (my favorite place is in the car) to get a 'reading fix'. Did it when I was a kid and still do it. People who have loved me 'don't get it."

this book started out interesting as she described the habits of people who live with books but then turned into a personal biography on feminism philosophy and the difficulty of breaking into the old boy's club which had nothing to do I am savouring every page of this book which so describes the life I've led as a bookworm. Especially the parts about hiding (my favorite place is in the car) to get a 'reading fix'. Did it when I was a kid and still do it. People who have loved me 'don't get it."

this book started out interesting as she described the habits of people who live with books but then turned into a personal biography on feminism philosophy and the difficulty of breaking into the old boy's club which had nothing to do with reading books except she was trying to become an editor.
Shawna
not sure about this... I liked some of the stories and she had some really good insights... but I didn't really like her voice. I felt like she was trying to convince us of her "extreme adventure stories" and "hard life" when she seems relatively privileged to me. I mean, saying a trip to China on a tour bus and trying to get pregnant were comparable to risking death on a mountain or spending your lifetime caring for an elderly person? hmm...
Christine Badenhop
I enjoyed Corrigan's book, but it fell flat for me after reading her other book, So We Read On, which I loved. I think this book would maybe be better for those with a similar background to Corrigan because they could relate to the New York stories she tells or the Catholic history she speaks about. I enjoyed reading the book, but it is not one I would highly recommend to many readers, which is a pity because I love her writing style.
Carolyn
Dang, wrote a whole review but lost it in the comments section when I hit I'm finished (thanks stupid phone).

Proposed and delved into a number of interesting theories and ideas. More academic and philosophical than I expected.

Would have preferred a wider range of book recommendations over the exploration of Catholicism chapter.

Really just makes me want to go read a bunch of WWII adventure tales more than anything else.
Mary
I usually do not keep up with all the new and exciting books that come out so I was recommended by my half-brother to read this. It was a wonderful journey into a woman's literary adventure throughout her life. It opened up new genres of literature, such as the female adventure novel, that I had never considered or heard about.

Delightful book and it opens your world up to new, well-written books that I hadn't heard about.
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