How Reading Changed My Life

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Overview

THE LIBRARY OF CONTEMPORARY THOUGHT is a groundbreaking series where America's finest writers and most brilliant minds tackle today's most provocative, fascinating, and relevant issues. Striking and daring, creative and important, these original voices on matters political, social, economic, and cultural, will enlighten, comfort, entertain, enrage, and ignite healthy debate across the country.
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Overview

THE LIBRARY OF CONTEMPORARY THOUGHT is a groundbreaking series where America's finest writers and most brilliant minds tackle today's most provocative, fascinating, and relevant issues. Striking and daring, creative and important, these original voices on matters political, social, economic, and cultural, will enlighten, comfort, entertain, enrage, and ignite healthy debate across the country.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Since she was a child, Anna Quindlen has been discovering the world and herself through reading: 'Reading has always been my home, my sustenance, my great invincible companion.'" From a lesser writer, such a tribute might be hyperbolic, but Quindlen has given as good as she's got. A Pulitzer Prize-winner for her New York Times column 'Public and Private,' Quindlen's three novels have been bestsellers, and her collection of 'Life in the 30's' columns, Living Out Loud, gave her a reputation as a voice for her generation, for her gender, and for thinking people everywhere.

In the short, entertaining book How Reading Changed My Life — part of Ballantine's Library of Contemporary Thought series — Quindlen uses her sharp observations and gentle humor to describe her inner life as a reader, a life that other confirmed bibliophiles will recognize with delight and not a few rueful smiles. Quindlen tells of her game attempts to be 'a normal child, who lived, raucous, in the world,' playing outdoors with the other children in the creek or laying pennies on the trolley track: 'But at base it was never any good. There was always a part of me, the best part of me, back at home, within some book, laid flat on the table to mark my place, its imaginary people waiting for me to return and bring them back to life.' In describing her childhood, adolescence, and adult years, Quindlen marks the passages of time with the self-awareness she gained reading different novels, from A Wrinkle in Time to Middlemarch

For those of us who, like Quindlen,couldgive up almost anything before we gave up reading, her book will feel like a party...to which the host has invited some of our oldest friends.

—Derek Baker

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this pithy celebration of the power and joys of reading, Quindlen emphasizes that books are not simply a means of imparting knowledge, but also a way to strengthen emotional connectedness, to lessen isolation, to explore alternate realities and to challenge the established order. To these ends much of the book forms a plea for intellectual freedom as well as a personal paean to reading. Quindlen (One True Thing) recalls her own early love affair with reading; writes with unabashed fervor of books that shaped her psychosexual maturation (John Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga, Mary McCarthy's The Group); and discusses the books that made her a liberal committed to fighting social injustice (Dickens, the Bible). She compares reading books to intimate friendship--both activities enable us to deconstruct the underpinnings of interpersonal problems and relationships. Her analysis of the limitations of the computer screen is another rebuttal of those who predict the imminent demise of the book. In order to further inspire potential readers, she includes her own admittedly "arbitrary and capricious" reading lists -- "The 10 books I would save in a fire," "10 modern novels that made me proud to be a writer," "10 books that will help a teenager feel more human" and various other categories. But most of all, like the columns she used to write for the New York Times, this essay is tart, smart, full of quirky insights, lapidary and a pleasure to read.
Library Journal
Readers who miss best-selling novelist Quindlen's newspaper column will welcome the return of her engaging voice in this latest addition to Ballantine's "Library of Contemporary Thought," a series of short, inexpensive trade paperback originals. Never stodgy or academic, Quindlen ties her own experience to reading habits in general and the ways they have changed over the last 100 years, including the recent influence of Oprah. She concludes with a series of arbitrary and capricious reading lists that could give librarians ideas: "10 Books That Will Help a Teenager Feel More Human," "10 Mystery Novels I'd Most Like To Find in a Summer Rental," "10 Modern Novels That Made Me Proud To Be a Writer," etc. This little book for book lovers, an excellent choice for reading groups, is recommended for all libraries.--Mary Paumier Jones, Westminster P.L., Lafayette, CO
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345422781
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/1998
  • Series: Library of Contemporary Thought
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 186,840
  • Product dimensions: 5.46 (w) x 8.23 (h) x 0.29 (d)

Meet the Author

Anna Quindlen
Anna Quindlen is the author of two bestselling novels, Object Lessons and One True Thing. Her New York Times column "Public and Private  won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992, and a selection of these columns was published as Thinking Out Loud. She is also the author of a collection of the "Life in the '30s  columns, Living Out Loud, and two children's books, The Tree That Came to Stay and Happily Ever After.

Biography

Anna Quindlen could have settled onto a nice, lofty career plateau in the early 1990s, when she had won a Pulitzer Prize for her New York Times column; but she took an unconventional turn, and achieved a richer result.

Quindlen, the third woman to hold a place among the Times' Op-Ed columnists, had already published two successful collections of her work when she decided to leave the paper in 1995. But it was the two novels she had produced that led her to seek a future beyond her column.

Quindlen had a warm, if not entirely uncritical, reception as a novelist. Her first book, Object Lessons, focused on an Irish American family in suburban New York in the 1960s. It was a bestseller and a Times Notable Book of 1991, but was also criticized for not being as engaging as it could have been. One True Thing, Quindlen's exploration of an ambitious daughter's journey home to take care of her terminally ill mother, was stronger still—a heartbreaker that was made into a movie starring Meryl Streep. But Quindlen's fiction clearly benefited from her decision to leave the Times. Three years after that controversial departure, she earned her best reviews yet with Black and Blue, a chronicle of escape from domestic abuse.

Quindlen's novels are thoughtful explorations centering on women who may not start out strong, but who ultimately find some core within themselves as a result of what happens in the story. Her nonfiction meditations—particularly A Short Guide to a Happy Life and her collection of "Life in the 30s" columns, Living Out Loud—often encourage this same transition, urging others to look within themselves and not get caught up in what society would plan for them. It's an approach Quindlen herself has obviously had success with.

Good To Know

To those who expressed surprise at Quindlen's apparent switch from columnist to novelist, the author points out that her first love was always fiction. She told fans in a Barnes & Noble.com chat, "I really only went into the newspaper business to support my fiction habit, but then discovered, first of all, that I loved reporting for its own sake and, second, that journalism would be invaluable experience for writing novels."

Quindlen joined Newsweek as a columnist in 1999. She began her career at the New York Post in 1974, jumping to the New York Times in 1977.

Quindlen's prowess as a columnist and prescriber of advice has made her a popular pick for commencement addresses, a sideline that ultimately inspired her 2000 title A Short Guide to a Happy Life. Quindlen's message tends to be a combination of stopping to smell the flowers and being true to yourself. Quindlen told students at Mount Holyoke in 1999, "Begin to say no to the Greek chorus that thinks it knows the parameters of a happy life when all it knows is the homogenization of human experience. Listen to that small voice from inside you, that tells you to go another way. George Eliot wrote, 'It is never too late to be what you might have been.' It is never too early, either. And it will make all the difference in the world."

Studying fiction at Barnard with the literary critic Elizabeth Hardwick, Quindlen's senior thesis was a collection of stories, one of which she sold to Seventeen magazine.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 8, 1952
    2. Place of Birth:
      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    1. Education:
      B.A., Barnard College, 1974
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

The Reading Lists from Anna Quindlen's How Reading Changed My Life:

10 Big Thick Wonderful Books that Could Take You a Whole Summer to Read (But Aren't Beach Books)

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

The Forstyte Saga by John Galsworthy

Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann

Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope

Sophie's Choice by William Styron

Henry and Clara by Thomas Mallon

Underworld by Don DeLillo

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

10 Non Fiction Books That Help Us Understand the World

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Gibbons

The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam

Lenin's Tomb by David Remnick

Lincoln by David Herbert Douglas

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

How We Die by Sherwin Nuland

The Unredeemed Captive by John Demos

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

The Power Broker by Robert Caro

10 Books that will Help a Teenager Feel More Human

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

Lost In Place by Mark Salzman

What's Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges

The World According to Garp by John Irving

Bloodbrothers by Richard Price

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers

The 10 Books I Would Save in a Fire (If I Could Only Save 10)

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

Middlemarch by George Eliot

Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence

The Collected Works of W. B. Yeats

The Collected Plays of William Shakespeare

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

Ten Books for a Girl Who is Full of Beans (Or Ought to Be)

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Julius the Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes

Betsy in Spite of Herself by Maud Hart Lovelace

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

The Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank

The BFG by Ronald Dahl

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

Catherine Known As Birdy by Katherine Paterson

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

Ten Mystery Novels I'd Most Like to Find in a Summer Rental

An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P. D. James

Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers

The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie King

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard

Dancers in Mourning by Margery Allingham

The Way Through the Woods by Colin Dexter

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John Le Carre

10 Books Recommended by a Really Good Elementary School Librarian

The View From Saturday by E.L. Koningsburg

Frindle by Andrew Clements

My Daniel by Pan Conrad

The Houdini Box by Brian Selznick

Good Night, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian

No Flying in the House by Betty Brock

My Father's Dragon by Ruth Gannett Stiles

Habibi by Naomi Nye

Mudpies and Other Recipes: A Cookbook for Dolls by Marjorie Winslow

The Story of May by Mordecai Gerstein

10 Good Book Club Selections

Fraud by Anita Brookner

Charming Billy by Alice McDermott

The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton

The Rise of Silas Lapham by William Dean Howells

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

Paris Trout by Pete Dexter

Eden Close by Anita Shreve

10 Modern Novels that Made Me Proud to be a Writer

The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks

White Noise by Don DeLillo

Martin Dressler by Steven Millhauser

True Confessions by John Gregory Dunne

The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen

The French Lieutennant's Woman by John Fowles

Falconer by John Cheever

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

The Information by Martin Amis

Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth

10 of the Books My Exceptionally Well-Read Friend Ben says He's Taken the Most From

Herzog by Saul Bellow

Coming Up for Air by George Orwell

Something of an Achievement by Gwyn Griffin

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

The Collected Poems of William Butler Yeats

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

The Moon and a Sixpence by Somerset Maugham

Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey

Heretics by G.K. Chesterton

The Wapshot Chronicles by John Cheever

(With addendum: Now I can't believe I settled for that list. What about
William Maxwell's The Folded Leaf, or Elizabeth Bowen's The House in Paris? )

Books I Just Love to Read, And Always Will

Main Street by Sinclair Lewis

My Antonia by Willa Cather

The Lion, the Witch and Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

The Group by Mary McCarthy

The Blue Swallows by Howard Nemerov (poetry)

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Scoop by Evelyn Waugh

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 14, 2011

    Very Expensive at Only 68 Pages

    My apologies to Anna Quindlen, whose writing (and opinions) I admire greatly. However, I believe that reviewing this item as if it were a full-length book (which the B&N website did within the past week) approaches deceptive advertising. I like Anna Quindlen's work so much that I probably would have bought this brief piece anyway. Nevertheless, because the stated function of customer reviews is to give readers an informed choice, I am providing the information that Barnes & Noble has chosen not to disclose, along with a rating to alert others.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2002

    Shows how you can really love books

    I had never read anything by Ms. Quindlen before this book. But she won the Pulitzer in 1992 for her NY Times column. First, my English teacher gave me this book since I read a really lot, and no one really does anymore. Ms. Quindlen showed me that it really doesn't matter if you want to read all the time, since people like her and Oprah, and look how they turned out. Anyway, Ms. Qunidlen told us about her love of reading and all of the books she read, from Galsworthy's 'The Forsyte Saga', Dicken's 'Bleak House', and Juster's 'The Phantom Tollbooth.' Her reading lists at the end always give me some sugestion for my next read. She tells us how no one, not her friends, parents, and other people never understood the way she loved books. She told how some people had the wrong idea about literature. For example, the novel 'Tristam Shandy.' She also expressed her fear that books might be going, but will never be replaced by computers, even though it is feared. But mostly she says how reading saved her sanity, life, and loves. It was a great book, one that I will always hang on to.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2005

    Great book, recommend to anyone who loves to read

    Great book. This was a short, but fun book to read. I would recommend it to anyone that has an interest in reading, or books. The book was full of interesting facts, and information about reading and the current trend. It¿s also help a self-proclaimed ¿book-addict¿ feel normal, because this books showed me that there are plenty of people that share a similar love for books that I have. I would give this book a five out of five, and would read it again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2003

    Super Read for a Book Lover!!!

    I don't read classics as Anna talks about in this book. However, all you need is to be a reader to enjoy her views on books. I loved how she talked about books read on-line and actually holding a book when you read. There's no comparison to holding and feeling a book in your hands. How wonderful to pick up and thumb through a book. Books are here to stay or at least I hope they are. I also enjoyed the talk of banned books and views on the subject...Wow, how funny was that! I think this is a must read for readers. I was given this book at a bookcrossing meetup and can't say enough about it! It's amazing that this book found me since this is nothing I would normally read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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