The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life by Andy Miller

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The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life by Andy Miller

Category: Autobiography
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Andy Miller, an editor for a London publisher, felt that his life was no longer his own and he had no time for reading. He devised a 'list of betterment' - fifty great books and two which were not - which he read over a year.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336/9 hours 1m Date: December 2014
Publisher: Audible
ISBN: 978-0061446184

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Andy Miller and his wife both worked and they had a three-year-old son. Despite the fact that Miller was an editor for a London publisher he felt that he'd 'lost' reading from his life. He seemed to acquire a lot of books, but making time for reading them was an entirely different matter. With the help of his wife he developed a 'list of betterment' - initially a limited number of great books which he determined to read but eventually it became fifty great books and two not so great, which he was going to master over the space of a year. He was re-integrating books into everyday life.

I was expecting a gentle discursion on fifty two books: meat and drink for someone in my business, but I was disabused of that notion very quickly. To begin with, I listened to an audio download and Andy Miller narrates the book. Now authors are not always the best people to narrate their own books - real skill is required rather than just the ability to 'read aloud'*. And something became obvious very quickly - Andy Miller is not a man for quiet discursions. He's lively and keen that I should know that the book contained spoilers and also to understand about footnotes. He's big on footnotes and insistent that I should master all the different sounds which Audible might use to show that we were in footnote territory. I was going to hate this book, wasn't I?

So, mentally I was planning a nice email to the publishers apologising for not having reviewed the book, but the download was playing in the background and I listened to Miller chatting about The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov and for the first time I saw in the book what our reviewer had raved about. It wouldn't harm to listen for just a little longer, would It? Obviously it wouldn't stray into the chapter on George Eliot's Middlemarch, a book which I'd attempted to read about thirty years ago and not only did I give up on the book, I gave my copy away too. But then something strange happened: Miller found the book hard going too. I was hooked but still reserved the right to back out when it came to the discussion of Dan Brown.

I read The Da Vinci Code when I was ill. It was a great story and frankly I didn't care about whether or not it was well written. It helped, but a lot jarred when I went back to look at it later. But - like Fifty Shades Of Grey it got a lot of people reading who might not otherwise have bothered. Some of Miller's early comments about Brown had seemed just a little snide and I suspected that I wasn't going to be amused. When we did come to talk about Brown it was in a surprising context - a list of what The Da Vinci Code and Moby Dick have in common. I laughed.

It's not really a book about books but a book about Miller's life and how books have impacted upon it and changed it. It's about work and children and commuter trains, about reading a book in the queue in the Post Office or setting yourself a certain number of pages of a book which you must get through every day, be it Tolstoy, Douglas Adams or The Epic of Gilgamesh that's next on your list. By the time that I was about half way through I knew that I was in for the long haul - and was rather sad when I reached the end. I'd like to thank Audible for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

  • For the record - he was brilliant.

If this book appeals to you then we think that you might also enjoy Lives in Writing by David Lodge.

Buy The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life by Andy Miller at Amazon You could get a free audio download of The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life by Andy Miller with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life by Andy Miller at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life by Andy Miller at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life by Andy Miller at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life by Andy Miller at Amazon.com.


Audio downloads of the book are available from both Audible.co.uk and Audible.com.

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