Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"The Western Lit Survival Kit" by Sandra Newman

The title and subtitle really say it all.  The author does exactly as she's promised; highlighting the positives and negatives of the more influential authors of each time period, from Homer to Faulkner.  But to just say that kind of makes it sound boring, which it most certainly is not.

Granted, I am the target audience.  I love reading and make it a point to read more classics (hence the Back to the Classics Challenge that I host) but I have not studied literature.  I am doing this on my own, and with the guidance, advice and recommendations of friends, family and fellow bloggers.  So, I kind of feel like this book was written for me.

The book explores and offers the author's insight as to why certain books, poems or plays are so highly regarded (or perhaps why they shouldn't be).  The tone of the book is light and funny, which helps keep it all interesting.  However, it also confused me a bit in places.  After reading a long passage about why a particular book is so great, there would be a joke thrown in that would undermine all that had she had previously said.  I decided not to dwell on it though, and instead take general ideas from this book and use them in how I might approach the Classics I'll read in the future.  Overall, I did enjoy the author's sense of humor throughout the book, especially the anecdotes she includes about the author's life or politics of the day.

I thought that this is a great introduction to the many books I have yet to read, as well as a nice remembrance of the books I have already read.  If you are just getting started with the Classics, this might help you feel a little less lost among all those great works of literature.

The wonderful ladies at TLC Book Tours have offered a copy of this book to one of my readers!  The giveaway is open to US and Canadian addresses only (no PO Boxes) and will run through January 31st.  Please fill out THIS FORM to enter!

The Western Lit Survival Kit    
by Sandra Newman
Gotham, 2012
304 pages
Source:  TLC Book Tours

Links for Purchase:
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The Book Depository


Jillian said...

Sounds like one I'd like -- though the joke thing as an undermine would throw me off...

Petya K. Grady said...

This is great! I filled out the form, I'd love to take a look at this book.

I am very much like you, I love to read and think about what I read but I never studied literature and I am not sure I am doing it "right". I don't think I need to be too concerned about that but I want to continue to learn. I think that would really improve my experience as a reader.

A similar title that I recommend is "How Fiction Works" by James Woods. It's for a popular audience but not light. I think you'd enjoy it.

Sarah Reads Too Much said...

Thank you for the recommendation Petya! I just added it to my wish list.

Sherry said...

Thanks for the giveaway.

Have you read Susan Wise Bauer's The Well-Trained Mind? She does much the same thing that the book you are writing about does. Without the jokes.

Sandy said...

Just added it to my to-read shelf on goodreads. Thanks for the review!

Sarah Reads Too Much said...

I haven't Sherry - Thanks for the recommendation!

heathertlc said...

Although there are many classics I truly love, there are definitely some I'm completely afraid of ... maybe this book would tempt me into trying them!

Thanks for being a part of the tour.

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