web site hit counter Classics for Pleasure - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Classics for Pleasure

Availability: Ready to download

This is not your father’s list of classics. In these delightful essays, Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Dirda introduces nearly ninety of the world’s most entertaining books. Writing with affection as well as authority, Dirda covers masterpieces of fantasy and science fiction, horror and adventure, as well as epics, history, essay, and children’s literature. Organized themat This is not your father’s list of classics. In these delightful essays, Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Dirda introduces nearly ninety of the world’s most entertaining books. Writing with affection as well as authority, Dirda covers masterpieces of fantasy and science fiction, horror and adventure, as well as epics, history, essay, and children’s literature. Organized thematically, these are works that have shaped our imaginations. "Love’s Mysteries" moves from Sappho and Arthurian romance to Sören Kierkegaard and Georgette Heyer. In other categories Dirda discusses not only Dracula and Sherlock Holmes but also the Tao Te Ching and Icelandic sagas, Frederick Douglass and Fowler’s Modern English Usage. Whether writing about Petronius or Perelman, Dirda makes literature come alive. Classics for Pleasure is a perfect companion for any reading group or lover of books. [Source: Amazon]


Compare

This is not your father’s list of classics. In these delightful essays, Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Dirda introduces nearly ninety of the world’s most entertaining books. Writing with affection as well as authority, Dirda covers masterpieces of fantasy and science fiction, horror and adventure, as well as epics, history, essay, and children’s literature. Organized themat This is not your father’s list of classics. In these delightful essays, Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Dirda introduces nearly ninety of the world’s most entertaining books. Writing with affection as well as authority, Dirda covers masterpieces of fantasy and science fiction, horror and adventure, as well as epics, history, essay, and children’s literature. Organized thematically, these are works that have shaped our imaginations. "Love’s Mysteries" moves from Sappho and Arthurian romance to Sören Kierkegaard and Georgette Heyer. In other categories Dirda discusses not only Dracula and Sherlock Holmes but also the Tao Te Ching and Icelandic sagas, Frederick Douglass and Fowler’s Modern English Usage. Whether writing about Petronius or Perelman, Dirda makes literature come alive. Classics for Pleasure is a perfect companion for any reading group or lover of books. [Source: Amazon]

30 review for Classics for Pleasure

  1. 5 out of 5

    David

    OK. It's official. Michael Dirda is awesome. He's smart, witty (but not obnoxiously so), extravagantly well-read, and writes lucidly and entertainingly, without condescension. Simply put, he's charming. You couldn't ask for a better Virgil to help you navigate the classics. The list of classics discussed in this book is not your parent's list. More specifically, it is not Clifton Fadiman's list. In his introduction, Dirda pays homage to Fadiman's "Lifetime Reading Plan", which he stumbled on as OK. It's official. Michael Dirda is awesome. He's smart, witty (but not obnoxiously so), extravagantly well-read, and writes lucidly and entertainingly, without condescension. Simply put, he's charming. You couldn't ask for a better Virgil to help you navigate the classics. The list of classics discussed in this book is not your parent's list. More specifically, it is not Clifton Fadiman's list. In his introduction, Dirda pays homage to Fadiman's "Lifetime Reading Plan", which he stumbled on as a teenager, and which guided his own reading path. He goes on to explain that Classics for Pleasure deliberately ignores most of the authors discussed by Fadiman; as these are likely to be familiar to most readers already, "it seemed more useful - and fun - to point readers to new authors and less obvious classics". In approximately 90 essays, Dirda covers a considerable amount of ground. He groups his authors into eleven categories: Playful Imaginations Heroes Love's Mysteries Words from the Wise Everyday Magic Lives of Consequence The Dark Side Traveler's Tales The Way We Live Now Realms of Adventure Encyclopedic Visions Homer, Virgil, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Cervantes, Goethe, Austen, Dickens, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Proust, Mann, and Joyce are all missing from this book. This allows Dirda to cast a broader net, including such authors as Diderot, Jaroslav Hasek, Zola, Ernst Junger, Cavafy, Spinoza, E. Nesbit, Cardano, Frederick Douglass, Sheridan LeFanu, H.P. Lovecraft, J.K. Huysmans, Elizabeth Gaskell, Zora Neale Hurston, H. Rider Haggard, G.K. Chesterton, Frazer, Malraux, Ovid, Petronius, and Philip K. Dick. The complete list may be found in the Table of Contents, at this link: http://www.harcourtbooks.com/bookcata... I can't really do justice to the legerdemain that Dirda exhibits in almost every essay in the book - the way he gives you just enough background information to pique your interest, picks out just the right detail from a book, or the author's life, to get you hooked, gets in a few key insights, then exits elegantly stage right, with just the parting remark that seals the deal. Even if you had no interest at all in an author's work before reading what Dirda has to say, by the time he's done, you are likely at least to want to give it a try. The man is a silver-tongued charmer, I tell you. And I mean that in the best possible way.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Michael Dirda ends Classics for Pleasure by quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, “There are books...which rank in our life with parents and lovers and passionate experiences.” Dirda agrees, and so do I. Within the covers of this book are some of Dirda’s favorite authors and books, explored briefly but with an enthusiasm that makes you want to rush out and read them all, or revisit those you already have an acquaintance with. He has obviously made an attempt to select less obvious, but equally w Michael Dirda ends Classics for Pleasure by quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, “There are books...which rank in our life with parents and lovers and passionate experiences.” Dirda agrees, and so do I. Within the covers of this book are some of Dirda’s favorite authors and books, explored briefly but with an enthusiasm that makes you want to rush out and read them all, or revisit those you already have an acquaintance with. He has obviously made an attempt to select less obvious, but equally worthy, authors and works. Although he introduced me to a few authors I had never come across before, reminded me that I was intending to read some classics I still have not gotten to yet, he still managed to hit on a few favorites of mine as well. My favorite parts of the book: 1. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier - a book I have loved since I was a teenager and have read multiple times. His comments about this book are the best I have ever read. “Rebecca says less about love than about the snares of passion, the ache of jealousy, and the shifting balance of power between a husband and wife. And, this astute observation that in the end both de Winters find themselves surrendering to memories, alive to what was rather than what is. Perhaps Rebecca does triumph after all. The novel, after all, bears her name. 2. His dissection of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which made me want to re-read it immediately. 3. The Secret Garden by Burnett, which is one of my all-time favorite children’s books. Dirda observes But a good children’s book should be a good book for any reader, of any age. He is absolutely right, and I can attest that this book meets that standard. 4. The short biography of Alexander Pope, one of the authors I studied in my college courses, that reminded me of why I fell in love with 18th Century literature so long ago. Jonathan Swift penned, In Pope, I cannot read a line,/But with a sigh, I wish it mine. And, T.S. Eliot said the modern test for liking poetry is whether or not you like Pope. 5. His praise of Isak Dinesen as both a storyteller and a chronicler of her times and experiences in Africa. Lest you think I only appreciated those sections that dealt with authors I already loved, let me mention that he made me enthusiastic to read Zola’s Germinal, E.T.A. Hoffman’s short stories (which sound like they might have been conceived by Poe), E. Nesbit’s Five Children and It, H. Rider Haggard’s She, and Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday. Two of these were already on my radar, but the others were unknown to me when I first opened this book. There is a great temptation to tell of every author Dirda includes, because each of them sounds so interesting and promising, but that would make this review the length of the book and it would border on plagiarism. So, I’ll just encourage you to get hold of the book and see which of these authors you most love reading about.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Terence

    "Real" rating = 3.5 or so Michael Dirda's Classics for Pleasure is an eminently readable collection of three-to-five-page essays on authors of the lesser known "classics" of Western literature (mostly - Dirda does slip in Laozi (China) and Ferdowsi (Iran)). I'm not about to rush out and find all of the works mentioned in this book but there are some that I am interested in reading. And the ones that I don't feel attracted to? Well, now at least I have an idea of what I'm missing. (Truly, I think "Real" rating = 3.5 or so Michael Dirda's Classics for Pleasure is an eminently readable collection of three-to-five-page essays on authors of the lesser known "classics" of Western literature (mostly - Dirda does slip in Laozi (China) and Ferdowsi (Iran)). I'm not about to rush out and find all of the works mentioned in this book but there are some that I am interested in reading. And the ones that I don't feel attracted to? Well, now at least I have an idea of what I'm missing. (Truly, I think in many cases, I would enjoy Dirda's essay more than the author's work itself.) The book is divided into eleven sections: I. Playful Imaginations: Here Dirda introduces masters of the lighter side of the human condition, starting with the Greek Lucian. Of the selection, Ivy Compton-Burnett looked interesting enough for me to follow up on. And, while I have no great interest in S.J. Perelman's collected work, Dirda does quote a passage from "Strictly from Hunger" that I particularly liked: "Our meal finished, we sauntered into the rumpus room and Diana turned on the radio. With a savage snarl the radio turned on her." (p. 27) II. Heroes of Their Time: Starting with Beowulf (which I still believe is better heard than read) and moving through to James Agee, Dirda samples the authors who've explored what it means to be a hero. I'm almost tempted to find a copy of the Shahnameh or the Njal Saga. I have been tempted to track down Ernst Junger's Storm of Steel. III. Love's Mysteries: This category's subject matter should be self-evident. Here, I was introduced to and became interested in George Meredith and Anna Akhmatova. IV. Words from the Wise: I've always been a fan of Laozi, Heraclitus and Spinoza but I learned a few things about other wise men as well. (And, yes, alas, they are all men in this section; though I don't think Dirda is suggesting anything by this. He's got plenty to say about women writers of equal depth to anyone in this section elsewhere.) V. Everyday Magic deals with writers of youth - The attempt to recapture, if not innocence, then the sense of wonder and of the new with which children see the world. VI. Lives of Consequence: Here are authors who speculate about life's meaning(s). All of the essays were fascinating glimpses into the lives and works of the authors. VII. The Dark Side - a favorite genre of mine. Many of the authors I've already met - Shelley, Le Fanu, Stoker, Lovecraft. VIII. Traveler's Tales, being a loosely defined genre that includes real travelers as well as the fantastic sort (i.e., Jules Verne or Thomas More). IX. The Way We Live Now: In this section, Dirda writes about the writers who "show us recognizable people making their way through 'the real world.'" (p. 233) Happily, Anton Chekhov makes the list but I also learned about Ivan Goncharov and Jose Maria Eca de Queiros. X. Realms of Adventure: Another section where I've already made the acquaintance of most of the authors - Haggard, Doyle, Kipling, Wells, Chesterton, Christie and Hammett. Dirda's essay on Kipling almost, but not quite, makes me want to read Kim. XI. Encyclopedic Visions deals with the writers who tackled subjects of vast scope - psychology, history, anthropology and the meaning(s) of reality. One may quibble at the relative lack of authors post-1950 (in fact, most come from the late 19th and early 20th centuries) but Dirda points out several times that this book isn't an exhaustive list; many of his favorites have shown up elsewhere and he felt no need to repeat himself here. Read this volume simply to enjoy Dirda's essays and discover a bit more about our richly complex literary heritage. This may also be a good recommendation for the bookish teenager looking to find out what's worth reading; or for anyone seeking to expand their reading experience.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jacob

    I was looking forward to this. When I finally got it from the library I was even more excited to see on the cover that Philip K Dick and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Cleanness, Patience are featured in it. It started off with witty writing, and I was charmed. For 15 pages. Then it started to really drag, and even now I wonder if I should have followed the overwhelming instinct to take it back, quietly delete it from my currently-reading shelf, and pretend I had never seen it. After two I was looking forward to this. When I finally got it from the library I was even more excited to see on the cover that Philip K Dick and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Cleanness, Patience are featured in it. It started off with witty writing, and I was charmed. For 15 pages. Then it started to really drag, and even now I wonder if I should have followed the overwhelming instinct to take it back, quietly delete it from my currently-reading shelf, and pretend I had never seen it. After two days I fought that instinct down and finally just read it. After all, the entry on Philip K Dick was the very last one, and I wanted to know if there were any hidden gems. There were a few, such as an entry for Georgette Heyer, whom I recently became acquainted with, and other Arthurian Legends I have learned through The Squire's Tale series. However, the wittiness wore off, many of the entries about an author are four pages when they should be 1 or 2, and it was drudgery just to read the descriptions of why certain authors are hidden gems of classics worth reading. And now I am in the unfortunate position of being less willing to read classic literature than I was before I started this book, when I was reading it in preparation for The Catcher in the Rye and Pride and Prejudice. Maybe I can find something else to convince me not to put those off. The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had and The Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American Literature are much better at this kind of thing than Dirda, in large part because they tell you more about how to enjoy the literature yourself and in part because the entries are shorter.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    From the intro: This "deliberately ignores most of the authors discussed in {the 1997 Fadiman-Major The New Lifetime Reading Plan: The Classic Guide to World Literature, Revised and Expanded}.... It seemed more useful--and fun--to point readers to new authors and less obvious classics." Also not included are some of Dirda's favorite authors because he already discussed them in his other works. So, I agree with his last intro. statement, "So please feel free to dip and browse at whim; there won't From the intro: This "deliberately ignores most of the authors discussed in {the 1997 Fadiman-Major The New Lifetime Reading Plan: The Classic Guide to World Literature, Revised and Expanded}.... It seemed more useful--and fun--to point readers to new authors and less obvious classics." Also not included are some of Dirda's favorite authors because he already discussed them in his other works. So, I agree with his last intro. statement, "So please feel free to dip and browse at whim; there won't be any test. These are, after all, just what the title says: classics for pleasure." Well hmm. Already not impressed; those last two sentences were long-winded and repetitive. Hope the rest of the book is more streamlined. Also hope his taste resembles mine at least a bit. I wonder if I should track down the Fadiman book, too... even though I have plenty of classics on my to-read list (and on my read list!) maybe I should at least check out what I may be missing.... --- So. Nothing from the humor section is to my taste. Even though I don't like adventures, I skimmed the Heroes section, was right, nothing. Skimming romance, find Georgette Heyer's A Civil Contract intriguing. I'm also reminded that I have Rebecca on my to-read list. Onward. W.H. Auden might be interesting, esp. his essays (?), but also esp. poems On the Circuit and Cave of Making. Done. That's all folks.... As for Dirda's writing, well, eminently skimmable.... Constant references that assume we already have a classical education, not only mentions of authors & celebrities unfamiliar to me, but undefined terms such as jeux d'esprit. Longwindedness, yes. An assumption of the "we" that usually should have been left as the "I." At least he does include passages from many of the works... but they're passages that generally dissuaded, rather than persuaded, me. And if the quoted passages weren't dissuasive, Dirda himself was... he and I just are not simpatico.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.) For those who don't know, Michael Dirda is a Pulitzer-winning literary critic, author of several of those "guides to challenging books for those who don't usually like challenging books;" and now we have his latest, 2007's Classics for Pleasure, essentially more of the same, this time picking even mo (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.) For those who don't know, Michael Dirda is a Pulitzer-winning literary critic, author of several of those "guides to challenging books for those who don't usually like challenging books;" and now we have his latest, 2007's Classics for Pleasure, essentially more of the same, this time picking even more obscure works precisely because they haven't been featured yet in any of his previous books. And as far as that's concerned, I suppose it's fine for what it is, although I always seem to have the same problem with guides like these: they tend to be more valuable to me as simple laundry lists of books I should check out, instead of for the essays explaining why I should be checking them out in the first place. And so as a result, I found only some of the short (three- to five-page) write-ups here interesting, mostly when he looks at titles from antiquity and is merely explaining what exactly is going on in them to begin with; but I found other large sections of the book dull and pretentious to the point of being unreadable, especially when he's trying to convince us to care about this or that highly obscure Victorian poet or modern academic novelist. Also, despite his many exhortations to the contrary, be warned this is a book primarily designed for academes who already have a broad knowledge of literature going into it; Dirda in fact has a bad habit of referencing hundreds upon hundreds of other writers in these essays without giving us even a clue about who they are or how the comparison is apt to begin with, for example like in this throwaway line from his write-up about French author Marie-Madeleine de la Fayette -- "This short book is, in some ways, the novelistic equivalent of a tragedy by Racine, and the agonies felt by the princess are no less acute than those of Titus" (a great observation if you happen to already know who Racine and Titus are, utterly f-cking pointless if you don't). It's one of those books that will immensely appeal to some, and you know already if you're one of those people; if you're not, it can be very easily skipped.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Hunter

    I tend toward "serious" reading - alternative histories, current affairs, psychology, spirituality, etc. Recently, I realized that I hardly ever read good literature. Then I discovered a series of books by Michael Dirda, literary critic for the Washington Post. For those who choose to explore Classics for Pleasure, I challenge you NOT to go running to your local bookstore or library to read the works of these authors. It's impossible, I think. So far, based upon his suggestions, I've picked up th I tend toward "serious" reading - alternative histories, current affairs, psychology, spirituality, etc. Recently, I realized that I hardly ever read good literature. Then I discovered a series of books by Michael Dirda, literary critic for the Washington Post. For those who choose to explore Classics for Pleasure, I challenge you NOT to go running to your local bookstore or library to read the works of these authors. It's impossible, I think. So far, based upon his suggestions, I've picked up the works of Agatha Christie, Eca de Queiros, and H.P. Lovecraft. Where have these authors been all my life? A rain check for my literary education, please. Dirda's essays are smart and engaging. Warning, he may coax you into reading more than you're accustomed to. I'm reading this book slowly, as I explore the authors highlighted by Dirda. This one will be in my currently-reading list for ages.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    With his concise and personal comments of 2-5 pages on off-the-beaten-trail classics, Michael Dirda will make your to-be-read list even to-be-reader (if that makes any sense). No thanks to him, I have added a few to my agenda for the new year (a labor of love, TBR lists).

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ted

    My favorite book-reviewer. (Didn't know this book existed. I love the new scrolling book suggestion thing on the home page!)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    I was expecting this to be a 10; it barely scraped in at a 7. I could not wait for it to be published; I stopped by the bookstore three times, hoping to find a copy before the official publication date. And then when I actually got the copy and started to read it? You must be kidding me. Who would read these books? The summaries did not even intrigue me. I, who have been known to write down titles recommended by first graders, wrote down a single recommendation from the scores Dirda mentions. Bi I was expecting this to be a 10; it barely scraped in at a 7. I could not wait for it to be published; I stopped by the bookstore three times, hoping to find a copy before the official publication date. And then when I actually got the copy and started to read it? You must be kidding me. Who would read these books? The summaries did not even intrigue me. I, who have been known to write down titles recommended by first graders, wrote down a single recommendation from the scores Dirda mentions. Big disappointment.

  11. 5 out of 5

    John

    I have been reading this book off and on for several years. It is quite good. Michael Dirda takes a very diverse collection of authors and writes an essay for each about why you may want to read them. Why they are good. Why they are interesting. Why they are unique. Why they wrote well. Why they should be remembered. Why they matter. Among the authors: Edward Gorey, W.H. Auden, Samuel Johnson, Ovid, H.P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker, Alexander Pope, Eudora Welty. This book is an excellent way to introdu I have been reading this book off and on for several years. It is quite good. Michael Dirda takes a very diverse collection of authors and writes an essay for each about why you may want to read them. Why they are good. Why they are interesting. Why they are unique. Why they wrote well. Why they should be remembered. Why they matter. Among the authors: Edward Gorey, W.H. Auden, Samuel Johnson, Ovid, H.P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker, Alexander Pope, Eudora Welty. This book is an excellent way to introduce yourself to some of these writers. You may not want to read about every single author -- I did not -- but the majority here are invigorating. This book also first introduced me to Edward Gorey, who remains an enduring pleasure.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    This one was really more of a skimmer, and one that would be best to have around for reference. I picked it up after reading Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books, and was considering joining a classics book club. I ended up deciding against the book club (it was in person and I wasn't sure I had the time or passion) but deciding to still skim the book for ideas. I like that Michael Dirda groups books by his own categories. It isn't by era or your typical canon listing, This one was really more of a skimmer, and one that would be best to have around for reference. I picked it up after reading Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books, and was considering joining a classics book club. I ended up deciding against the book club (it was in person and I wasn't sure I had the time or passion) but deciding to still skim the book for ideas. I like that Michael Dirda groups books by his own categories. It isn't by era or your typical canon listing, and this made me far more interested in what he had to say. I also added a few books to my to-read list, such as: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee (already on my list, but confirmed) The Book of My Life by Girolamo Cardano Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G.K. Chesterton There were few books discussed in Classics for Pleasure that I had read previously, in fact most of what I had already read were science fiction "classics" authors. He doesn't include Dickens or Austen or Melville, the books I would have expected. Some reach farther back than that, some are translated works, and there were some authors I had never heard of. Thank goodness. This is why I read books on books.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    These are not your usual classics - no Shakespeare nor Homer. These are the other classics which you might not have heard of or ignored: Lucian, Ivy Compton-Burnett, Thomas Love Peacock, the Icelandic Sagas, M. R. James, Bram Stoker,the list is long, often unexpected (du Maurier for Rebecca, for example), and I believe I marked every book that I have not read as "To read". Dirda has an easy-going, pleasant style, and he is unabashedly bookish. He clearly loves these books and writes about them i These are not your usual classics - no Shakespeare nor Homer. These are the other classics which you might not have heard of or ignored: Lucian, Ivy Compton-Burnett, Thomas Love Peacock, the Icelandic Sagas, M. R. James, Bram Stoker,the list is long, often unexpected (du Maurier for Rebecca, for example), and I believe I marked every book that I have not read as "To read". Dirda has an easy-going, pleasant style, and he is unabashedly bookish. He clearly loves these books and writes about them in such a way that you too will want to try at least a few of them. As I've gotten older, I find that I read far more non-fiction than fiction, and the fiction I generally prefer is older work. I find more to love in what remains after literature has been sifted through a few years or centuries. After all, most current fiction will be faded in ten years and gone in twenty.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mary Stephanos

    Michael Dirda has the talent for making every book he likes sound like the most compelling read out there. For the most part, we benefit from his passion, though Dirda's rather infectious praise can sometimes lead some readers badly astray. For this collection, he has selected "classics" that may be lesser known than what we all read in high school and college but are just as, and sometimes even more, enjoyable to read. His picks range from Ovid, Beowulf, and the Arthurian romances to Dashiell H Michael Dirda has the talent for making every book he likes sound like the most compelling read out there. For the most part, we benefit from his passion, though Dirda's rather infectious praise can sometimes lead some readers badly astray. For this collection, he has selected "classics" that may be lesser known than what we all read in high school and college but are just as, and sometimes even more, enjoyable to read. His picks range from Ovid, Beowulf, and the Arthurian romances to Dashiell Hammett, Georgette Heyer (a longtime Dirda favorite), and even Edward Gorey. The range is delightful, and most curious readers are bound to find new ideas for the TBR list. Recommended for fans of Michael Dirda's criticism and anyone looking to sink into something a little different for a while.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    This book is similar to Dirda's "Bound to Please," a collection of quasi-review/analysis and spoiler-eschewing briefs on major books and writers throughout history. Dirda is enthusiastic and easy to read, striking up interest in books which might otherwise escape notice outside of a college survey of 'old' literature. This book (Like 'Bound to Please') is something of a salty snack. You can reach in just about anywhere and get the same happy tone as Dirda sings the praises of authors you may hav This book is similar to Dirda's "Bound to Please," a collection of quasi-review/analysis and spoiler-eschewing briefs on major books and writers throughout history. Dirda is enthusiastic and easy to read, striking up interest in books which might otherwise escape notice outside of a college survey of 'old' literature. This book (Like 'Bound to Please') is something of a salty snack. You can reach in just about anywhere and get the same happy tone as Dirda sings the praises of authors you may have never read, or even ever heard of.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    Dirda talks about books as if they were good friends — with affection and verve. Each brief introduction highlights the essential qualities of an author's works that make them worth discovering. And that's the best part about this book: Dirda makes you want to read each book. Which is also the worst part of all, because you then have to begin your search anew for time to read and savor the written word.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Florian

    This book was given to me by my editor, and although I had low expectations for a book about books, I was pleasantly surprised. Dirda kept me intrigued about almost every author he explored, and I especially enjoyed reading about E.T.A. Hoffman, S. J. Perelman,Calvino, Nesbit, Masefield, Pope, and Auden. A true pleasure, that's also enjoyable for a second reading.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Julie Davis

    When it comes to reading about books, Michael Dirda tops my list. This is a consistently enjoyable series of essays which contained some of my favorite "classics" such as Georgette Heyer and H.P. Lovecraft. As is usual with Mr. Dirda's essays, I came away with a list of books to try.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    This is one of three recent books that give me ideas for what to read next, if I ever need help with that. (The second is Bibliphile: an illustrated miscellany, by Jane Mount. The third is Browsings: a year of reading, collecting, and living with books by Michael Dirda.) Even for the books that don't interest me, I'm glad I read his comments on them. He leaves out a lot of the obvious classics, because he's written about them in other books. Rather than put them in strict chronological or alphab This is one of three recent books that give me ideas for what to read next, if I ever need help with that. (The second is Bibliphile: an illustrated miscellany, by Jane Mount. The third is Browsings: a year of reading, collecting, and living with books by Michael Dirda.) Even for the books that don't interest me, I'm glad I read his comments on them. He leaves out a lot of the obvious classics, because he's written about them in other books. Rather than put them in strict chronological or alphabetical order, Dirda groups them by categories. Of course, some books could fit into more than one category, but that's okay. Groups are: Playful Imagination (including Max Beerbohm, S.J. Perelman, Italy Calvino, Edward Gorey); Heroes of Their Time (including Beowulf, The Icelandic Sagas, Emil Zola, James Agee); Love's Mysteries (including Sappho, Arthurian romances, Georgette Heyer, Daphne du Maurier); Words from the Wise (including Lao-tse, Erasmus, Spinosa, Samuel Johnson); Everyday Magic (including classic fairy tales, Frances Hodgson Burnett, E. Nesbit); Lives of Consequence (Plutarch, Alexander Pope, Rousseau, Frederick Douglass); The Dark Side (including Mary Shelley, Sheridan Le Fanu, Bram Stoker, H.P Lovecraft); Traveler's Tales (including Thomas More, Daniel Defoe, Jules Verne, Isak Dineson); The Way We Live Now (including Anton Chekhov, Willa Cather, Zora Neale Hurston, Eudora Welty); Realms of Adventure (including H. Rider Haggard, Conan Doyle, Kipling, H.G. Wells, Agatha Christie); Encyclopedic Visions (including Ovid, Edward Gibbon, J.G. Frazer, Ezra Pound, Philip K. Dick). An appendix gives a chronological index of the authors. You should be able to find something in here to appeal to any reading taste. One problem with some of the authors is that they require translation to be read by most English-speaking readers. And the translations may differ in their readability.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Whitney

    Ok. When I read a book that discusses why the author likes certain books/thinks certain books are worth reading, its mostly because I either like the author making the recommendations or because I am trolling for new things to read. I don't know Dirda, so this book fell into the second camp for me. I unapologetically wanted him to sell me on the merit of authors I hadn't gotten around to, maybe put a book or two on my TBR. Dirda did none of those things. Reading his overview on books and authors Ok. When I read a book that discusses why the author likes certain books/thinks certain books are worth reading, its mostly because I either like the author making the recommendations or because I am trolling for new things to read. I don't know Dirda, so this book fell into the second camp for me. I unapologetically wanted him to sell me on the merit of authors I hadn't gotten around to, maybe put a book or two on my TBR. Dirda did none of those things. Reading his overview on books and authors felt like reading a particularly uninteresting Wikipedia footnote. I even got bored reading about books and authors I had already discovered and did like, which is impressive, because I am usually so desperate to commiserate about the books I read that even reading someone else's essay about it is good enough for me. (In an attempt to be balanced and fair, his entry on Girolamo was fairly interesting, mostly because it gave me insight into another author's take on a fictionalized version of the man.) Maybe once had-her-morning-cup-of-tea Whitney comes back, I might feel more generous.... ...but probably not. (Really, how *do* you make G.K. Chesterton uninteresting? How?)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mycala

    Yes, because I need help adding a bunch of books to my "to read" list like I need a hole in the head. But I can't stop, okay? So thank goodness for Michael Dirda who helps to feed the addiction, and using fun categories too. I didn't even get past the first few pages before I'd already put a book on hold at the library. I have no fewer than 20 of those sticky cats book tags scattered through the pages. I think I used a great deal of restraint even then. Especially since I only put one book on ho Yes, because I need help adding a bunch of books to my "to read" list like I need a hole in the head. But I can't stop, okay? So thank goodness for Michael Dirda who helps to feed the addiction, and using fun categories too. I didn't even get past the first few pages before I'd already put a book on hold at the library. I have no fewer than 20 of those sticky cats book tags scattered through the pages. I think I used a great deal of restraint even then. Especially since I only put one book on hold at the library. Baby steps. What can I do, I'm a slave to my passions. At least I'll never be bored.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Randy Money

    Classics For Pleasure can act as a reading list or as a pleasant, if one-sided, chat about a wide variety of books that Dirda has read and considered. Dirda is an excellent guide to literature in general, his tastes extending to genre works as well as accepted literary works, and is neither so academic that he falls into language of academic criticism nor so fannish that he raves without substantive discussion. A fun and informative book to dip into with a guide who praises the virtues of the wo Classics For Pleasure can act as a reading list or as a pleasant, if one-sided, chat about a wide variety of books that Dirda has read and considered. Dirda is an excellent guide to literature in general, his tastes extending to genre works as well as accepted literary works, and is neither so academic that he falls into language of academic criticism nor so fannish that he raves without substantive discussion. A fun and informative book to dip into with a guide who praises the virtues of the work without dismissing the flaws.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    I meant just to dip into this, after Mark mentioned it on Goodreads, but now I've found I've read the whole darn thing. Each entry led me to start the next one, and on it went. Well organized, and a lot of fun. I've added a bunch of titles to my imaginary "want to read" list. The book jacket blurb from Michael Kinsley says it very well: "Michael Dirda is the best-read person in America. But he doesn't rub it in."

  24. 5 out of 5

    Colleen Mertens

    This book contains reviews of books from the past that often are read in schools. It had many stories I've never heard of but some seem most interesting. This book made me want to read some of these books. At times the book got a little dry depending on what the actual story being reviewed was. Good way to find out about other literary works.

  25. 4 out of 5

    A Shaskan

    I wanted to read this book, but he keep spoiling key plot points of the books he's discussing! Like a lot of critical material, it would be better to read these essays after having read the books he recommends. So, use his table of contents as a guide, then come back to these essays afterwards.

  26. 4 out of 5

    David

    Pro tip - when reading Dirda make sure that you are not in the middle of reading any other books and keep a pencil and notepad ready because there will be dozens of great book descriptions and recommendations that will make you want to run out to your local library.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    I was looking for a list of classical books covering Greek and Roman literature and Western Civilization. Normally I would not review a book I had skipped around in, but this book is set up to do that and I eventually read many, if not most, of Michael Dirda's synopses.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Chris Via

    Michael Dirda could make a phone book sound like a masterpiece!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Henry Hikawa

    This book is very interesting.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Erik Tanouye

    Don’t remember for sure, but I’m pretty sure I got this at The Strand. Possibly even the Strand annex?

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.