Author: Henry Hitchings
S Morgan’s pick
The title of this book was the first thing that caught my eye. Could I really pull-off talking about Leo Tolstoy and James Joyce without ever having read their books? Well it was certainly worth a shot.
What I found was a well written book that kept me interested enough to finish it within a few days. With chapters such as “Would You Really Want to Join the Dante Club?” and “What’s Actually in the Bible?”, it offers insight into books that may not normally be chosen by the average reader.
Some might pick up this book to avoid embarrassment during conversations with bookish people. (You know the types, the ones that like to boast about having read War and Peace and Ulysses, gushing about having loved them both.) I, on the other hand, had hopes of becoming one of those people. I not only wanted to be able to brag about having read Ulysses, I wanted to profess to having enjoyed it too. I have to admit that I had not read most of the books it lists, although I have picked up the Bible, the Qur’an, and most books by Shakespeare.
What I found most appealing about this book is that it gives an uncomplicated description of the titles found inside. This could mean that for most readers this book will be not used so much as a learning tool in the art of bluffing your way through dinner parties but as an incentive to go to your local library and borrow some of the classics listed within. Since reading this book I have started reading Ulysses and yes, I am enjoying it. Hopefully, it will be the first of many on my list.