How To Read and Why

  • by Harold Bloom
  • Narrated by John McDonough
  • 11 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Harold Bloom is Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University, Berg Professor of English at New York University, and a former Charles Eliot Norton Professor at Harvard. He has written more than 20 books of literary criticism. From a lifetime of writing and teaching about literature, this great scholar exhorts readers to consider the pleasures and benefits of reading well.Beginning with a basic question, "Why read?" Bloom offers his thoughts on works that form the canon of great literature. Short stories, poems, novels, and plays are held up to the light of Bloom's considerable intellect. Here are the authors that bear reading again and again, including Turgenev and Tennyson, Cervantes,and Shakespeare.Harold Bloom's many honors include a MacArthur Prize, membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Academy's Gold Medal for Criticism. As he shares his passion for literature, his discussion is made even more enthralling through John McDonough's warm narration.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Like a review of my graduate English degree

If you could sum up How To Read and Why in three words, what would they be?

Brilliant, engaging, influential


What other book might you compare How To Read and Why to and why?

"A Jane Austen Education": Both books deal with how literature can and should change your life.


What does John McDonough bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He sounds just like I'd imagine Harold Bloom to sound--professorial and profound. The pauses are in all the right places.


What’s an idea from the book that you will remember?

Why we should memorize poetry, and his interpretations of certain works are truly memorable.


Any additional comments?

Bloom chooses a few works from each period English and American literature and shows why they are the most important, how they should be read and interpreted, and how they should be savored and remembered.

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- Barbara

A honest

Would you consider the audio edition of How To Read and Why to be better than the print version?

Yes. John McDonough is one of my favorite readers. His reading is,rather scholarly (I don't know if he'd like that description though). I prefer his reading when listening to non fiction, much more than most modern readers who tend to adopt a rather funny "Everybody Loves Raymond" type tone when reading non fiction.


What did you like best about this story?

I liked the introduction a lot, because I've always felt that fiction writing is in danger of becoming political tracts whose goal is to teach more than tell a story. If characters in stories are allowed to be themselves, politics will manifest itself naturally.


Have you listened to any of John McDonough’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

He had more spunk here than he does in reading Isaiah (from The Bible).


Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me laugh sometimes, especially when Mr Bloom calls two characters from one of Flannery O Conner's stories "Abominable persons." He was talking about a grandfather and a little girl.


Any additional comments?

I am glad to be introduced to a reader that doesn't get in the way of the story. I have a hard time listening to great actors when they read, because they give sort of characterizations that are often quite good (a British person, Truck Driver, Mafia lord...etc),but they are too definite for the length of an average novel.

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- Bill Mobley "Hi Jiff! (My favorite Eddie Murphy character)"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-23-2008
  • Publisher: Recorded Books