The Shelf: From LEQ to LES: Adventures in Extreme Reading: From LEQ to LES: Adventures in Extreme…

Kobo eBook available

read instantly on your Kobo or tablet.

buy the ebook now

The Shelf: From LEQ to LES: Adventures in Extreme Reading: From LEQ to LES: Adventures in Extreme…

by Phyllis Rose

Farrar, Straus And Giroux | May 13, 2014 | Hardcover

Not yet rated | write a review
Phyllis Rose, after a career of reading from syllabuses and writing about canonical books, decided to read like an explorer. She "wanted to sample, more democratically, the actual ground of literature." Casting herself into the untracked wilderness of the New York Society Library’s stacks, she chose a shelf of fiction almost at random and read her way through it. Unsure of what she would find, she was nonetheless certain "that no one in the history of the world had read exactly this series of novels."

What results is a spirited experiment in "Off-Road or Extreme Reading." Rose’s shelf of roughly thirty books has everything she could wish for—a remarkable variety of authors and a range of literary ambitions and styles. The early-nineteenth-century Russian classic A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov is spine by spine with The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Stories of French Canadian farmers sit beside tales about aristocratic Austrians. California detective novels abut a novel from an Afrikaans writer who fascinates Rose to the extent that she ends up watching a YouTube video of his funeral.

Curious about the life of writers across a broad spectrum of time and space, with a keen interest in the challenges for literary women, Rose occasionally follows her reading with personal encounters. One of her favorite discoveries is the contemporary American novelist Rhoda Lerman, in whom she believes that she has found an unrecognized Grace Paley—"another funny feminist humane earth-mother Jewish writer." But Lerman, who becomes a friend, turns out to be not "another" anything: in addition to writing she now raises prizewinning Newfoundlands and "talks of champion canines with the reverence I reserve for Alice Munro."

A joyous testament to the thrill of engagement with books high and low, The Shelf leaves us with the feeling that there are treasures to be found on every library or bookstore shelf. Rose investigates her own discoveries with exuberance, candor, and wit while exploring and relishing the centripetal nature of reading in the Internet age. Measuring her finds against her own inner shelf—those texts that accompany her through life—she creates an original and generous portrait of the literary enterprise.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 288 pages, 8.48 × 5.77 × 1.04 in

Published: May 13, 2014

Publisher: Farrar, Straus And Giroux

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0374261202

ISBN - 13: 9780374261207

Found in: Fiction and Literature

save 37%

  • In stock online

$19.80  ea

Online Price

$30.00 List Price

or, Used from $8.56

eGift this item

Give this item in the form of an eGift Card.

+ what is this?

This item is eligible for FREE SHIPPING on orders over $25.
See details

Easy, FREE returns. See details

Item can only be shipped in Canada

Downloads instantly to your kobo or other ereading device. See details

All available formats:

Check store inventory (prices may vary)

Reviews

– More About This Product –

The Shelf: From LEQ to LES: Adventures in Extreme Reading: From LEQ to LES: Adventures in Extreme…

by Phyllis Rose

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 288 pages, 8.48 × 5.77 × 1.04 in

Published: May 13, 2014

Publisher: Farrar, Straus And Giroux

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0374261202

ISBN - 13: 9780374261207

Read from the Book

One THE EXPERIMENT BEGINS     This book records the history of an experiment. Believing that literary critics wrongly favor the famous and canonical—that is, writers chosen for us by others—I wanted to sample, more democratically, the actual ground of literature. So I chose a fiction shelf in the New York Society Library somewhat at random—it happens to be the LEQ–LES shelf—and set out to read my way through it, writing about the experience as I went. I had no reason to believe that the books would be worth the time I would spend on them. They could be dull, even lethally so. I was certain, however, that no one in the history of the world had read exactly this series of novels. That made the project exciting to me. I thought of my adventure as Off-Road or Extreme Reading. To go where no one had gone before. To ski fresh powder in the backcountry of the Rockies. To hack through a Mexican jungle and discover a lost city. To be the first to cross Antarctica, reduced to eating the sled dogs, leading my men through the frozen wastes, across the Strait of Magellan, and over the treacherous mountains of South Georgia Island. To be the first. However, I like to sleep under a quilt with my head on a goose down pillow. So I would read my way into the unknown—into the pathless wastes, into thin air, with no reviews, no bestseller lists, no college curricula, no National Book Awards or Pulitzer Prizes, no ads, no publicity, not even word of m
read more read less

Table of Contents

1. The Experiment Begins

2. The Myth of the Book: A Hero of Our Time

3. Literary Evolution: The Phantom of the Opera

4. The Universe Provides: Rhoda Lerman

5. Women and Fiction: A Question of Privilege

6. Domesticities: Margaret Leroy and Lisa Lerner

7. The Nightingale and the Lark: Lernet-Holenia and LeRossignol

8. Libraries: Making Space

9. Life and Adventures: Gil Blas

10. Serial Killers: Detective Fiction

11. Immortality

From the Publisher

Phyllis Rose, after a career of reading from syllabuses and writing about canonical books, decided to read like an explorer. She "wanted to sample, more democratically, the actual ground of literature." Casting herself into the untracked wilderness of the New York Society Library’s stacks, she chose a shelf of fiction almost at random and read her way through it. Unsure of what she would find, she was nonetheless certain "that no one in the history of the world had read exactly this series of novels."

What results is a spirited experiment in "Off-Road or Extreme Reading." Rose’s shelf of roughly thirty books has everything she could wish for—a remarkable variety of authors and a range of literary ambitions and styles. The early-nineteenth-century Russian classic A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov is spine by spine with The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Stories of French Canadian farmers sit beside tales about aristocratic Austrians. California detective novels abut a novel from an Afrikaans writer who fascinates Rose to the extent that she ends up watching a YouTube video of his funeral.

Curious about the life of writers across a broad spectrum of time and space, with a keen interest in the challenges for literary women, Rose occasionally follows her reading with personal encounters. One of her favorite discoveries is the contemporary American novelist Rhoda Lerman, in whom she believes that she has found an unrecognized Grace Paley—"another funny feminist humane earth-mother Jewish writer." But Lerman, who becomes a friend, turns out to be not "another" anything: in addition to writing she now raises prizewinning Newfoundlands and "talks of champion canines with the reverence I reserve for Alice Munro."

A joyous testament to the thrill of engagement with books high and low, The Shelf leaves us with the feeling that there are treasures to be found on every library or bookstore shelf. Rose investigates her own discoveries with exuberance, candor, and wit while exploring and relishing the centripetal nature of reading in the Internet age. Measuring her finds against her own inner shelf—those texts that accompany her through life—she creates an original and generous portrait of the literary enterprise.

About the Author

Phyllis Rose is the author of A Woman of Letters: The Life of Virginia Woolf; Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages; Jazz Cleopatra: Josephine Baker in Her Time; The Year of Reading Proust: A Memoir in Real Time; and two collections of essays.

Editorial Reviews

"Simple but radical." —Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune "Rose is consistently generous, knowledgeable, and chatty, with a knack for connecting specific incidents to large social trends." —Christine Smallwood, The New Yorker "Immensely appealing . . . In encouraging us to be more independent thinkers, less swayed by convention and the critical consensus, more empathetic and open-minded, her book teaches us much about how to approach life as it does about how to read books . . . Irresistible." —Priscilla Gilman, Boston Globe "Readers of ‘ The Shelf’ will feel befriended." —John Williams, The New York Times "It’s thrilling to see, in The Shelf , the happenstance and whimsy that sprang from a random grab bag of books. And the vastness of possibility those books (good or bad) possess is a terrific match for the vastness of Rose’s intelligence, which swerves from scholarly to oddball, and from sophisticated to fun." —Diane Mehta, Bookforum "A seasoned, open-minded, and passionate reader, inquisitive thinker, and delectably lucid and witty writer, Rose rallies readers to affirm our love of literature and libraries." —Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review) "If the world’s greatest librarian held hands with the greatest English teacher you ever had and they led you into the middle of the Forest of Literature, Phyllis Rose’s The Shelf would be right there, waiting for you. The Shelf is an exceptional, goofy, erud
read more read less