How to be Well Read

How to be Well Read

A guide to 500 great novels and a handful of literary curiosities

Summary

'Generous, enjoyable and well informed.' Observer

'500 expertly potted plots and personal comments on a wide range of pop and proper prose fiction.' The Times
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Ranging all the way from Aaron's Rod to Zuleika Dobson, via The Devil Rides Out and Middlemarch, literary connoisseur and sleuth John Sutherland offers his very personal guide to the most rewarding, most remarkable and, on occasion, most shamelessly enjoyable works of fiction ever written.

He brilliantly captures the flavour of each work and assesses its relative merits and demerits. He shows how it fits into a broader context and he offers endless snippets of intriguing information: did you know, for example, that the Nazis banned Bambi or that William Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying on an upturned wheelbarrow; that Voltaire completed Candide in three days, or that Anna Sewell was paid £20 for Black Beauty? It is also effectively a history of the novel in 500 or so wittily informative, bite-sized pieces.

Encyclopaedic and entertaining by turns, this is a wonderful dip-in book, whose opinions will inform and on occasion, no doubt, infuriate.
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'Anyone hooked on fiction should be warned: this book will feed your addiction.' Mail on Sunday


'A dazzling array of genres, periods, styles and tastes... chatty, insightful, unprejudiced (but not uncritical) and wise.' Times Literary Supplement

Reviews

  • Generous, enjoyable and well informed.
    Observer

About the author

John Sutherland

John Sutherland is Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus of Modern English Literature at University College London and previously taught at the California Institute of Technology. He writes regularly for the Guardian, The Times and the New York Times, and is the author of many books including Curiosities of Literature, Is Henry V a War Criminal? (with Cedric Watts), biographies of Walter Scott, Stephen Spender and the Victorian elephant Jumbo, and The Boy Who Loved Books, a memoir.
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