What's a Common Reader -- and what is Uncommon Reading?

Virginia Woolf defined a common reader as someone who is not a scholar; not a critic. A common reader "reads for his own pleasure rather than to impart knowledge or correct the opinions of others. Above all, he is guided by an instinct to create for himself, out of whatever odds and ends he can come by, some kind of whole." By that definition, I'm definitely a common reader -- reading an uncommonly large and diverse collection of books.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bastille Day Giveaway: The Results!

On July 1, I had 61 followers; as of midnight on July 14, the number had grown to 84. So while I had originally specified I'd be giving away one book per every 20 additional followers, I chose to interpret that liberally, and to give away two books. Also, rather than just work my way up the list, I'm giving the two winners their choice of the five books on offer. 

As I heard from everyone who e-mailed me asking to participate in the Bastille Day giveaway I allotted them a number. I then turned to the ever-reliable folks at Random.Org tonight to select two of those numbers -- at random, of course.

And the winners -- who should already find e-mails in their inboxes informing them of this -- are MARJORIE and TERZAH! Both of you just need to confirm which book you want, and your addresses, in a return e-mail.

Congratulations to you both!

And stick around, there will be more giveaways in the weeks and months to come. In the meantime, settle back and enjoy the book talk!


  1. I am thrilled to have won a great book, many, many thanks.

  2. Yes, it's interesting -- your point there is that she is focusing on relationships between groups of people in unusual or extreme settings, which is, I think, the point I'm trying to make as well. In the former case -- Bel Canto, where the people are brought together by an extreme terrorist act -- I think that works better than in this instance, where I, as a reader, was asked to suspend all my critical faculties in order for Marina to end up in the position she did; to prepare the way for her transformation. I think Patchett showed in this book that she's a good novelist and a great writer -- but a great writer would have made me forget to think about what she was doing and just allow me to become engrossed in the story. As just happened to me with "The Memory of Love" by Aminatta Forna... but more of that later! Patchett used language and description beautifully; developed an intriguing and thought-provoking plotline and did all the right things, but it just never "clicked". So I can appreciate it without ever relishing the book as a whole. I think a great example of the problem was the arrival of Dr. Fox at the research station: the way that comes about, and the author's decision to have Marina mentally link it to Casablanca, as in of all the Amazon tributaries in the world -- that was very clever, but extremely implausible and rather studied. So however well written it was, part of me responded by saying, "oh yeah???"
    But then, reading is subjective...