Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven't Touched Since High School (Paperback)
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What do the great books of your youth have to say about your life now? Remember reading Catcher in the Rye and The Great Gatsby in high school? How about Slaughterhouse-Five and Pride and Prejudice? Would you read them again now that no one's grading you, just for your own enjoyment? This book helps you decide to do just that. This author will guide you through fifty books commonly assigned in high school English class and show you why you'd probably enjoy rereading the same books as an adult. Smokler's essays on the classics-witty, down-to-earth, appreciative, and insightful-are divided into ten sections, each covering an archetypical stage of life-from youth and first love to family, loss, and the future. The author not only reminds you about the essential features of each great book but gives you a practical, real-world reason why revisiting it in adulthood is not only enjoyable but useful. Can The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn help you cope with aging? What does To Kill a Mockingbird have to say about being a parent? How about Fahrenheit 451 on not getting stuck in a crappy job? Practical Classics gives you an incentive to reread and a reason why.
About the Author
Kevin Smokler (San Francisco, CA) is the editor of Bookmark Now: Writing in Unreaderly Times, a San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book of 2005. His writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Fast Company, the San Francisco Chronicle, and The Believer.
Praise for Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven't Touched Since High School…
"From Toni Morrison to Ray Bradbury, Practical Classics is a refreshing and necessary call to reading. A quirky and thoughtful guide, I'd pretty much follow Kevin Smokler anywhere in the library. (And I'm willing to forgive him for what he says about The Scarlet Letter because of his wonderful essay on another beloved book, The Phantom Toll Booth.) He makes it fun, as it should be."
- Peter Orner, author of Love and Shame and Love
"Smokler's book is fascinating, relevant - and has completely wrecked my schedule for the next several months. After reading his sharp insights on all these classics, I feel inspired to read them again. Or for the first time, in some cases . . . in a lot of cases."
- A. J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically
"Whether we're rereading or reading for the first time (go ahead, admit it!), Kevin Smokler's smart, funny, down-to-earth book is a marvelous guide to some of literature's greatest works and their power to instruct. Practical Classics belongs in every reader's library as a reminder to turn off reality television and fill our minds instead with these indelible characters who have so much to teach us. What a gift."
- Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion
"With Practical Classics, Kevin Smokler has done at least four remarkable things at once: he's given curious adult readers a path into the old English-class canon; he's updated that canon with a host of titles that will surprise you; he's wrapped it all up in a crisp, concise, random-access format perfectly suited to the twenty-first century; and, best of all, he's made these fifty books feel fresh and urgent and new again."
- Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
"Smokler has gone back to your youth so you won't have to - finding delight in rereading old assignments as an adult. An indispensable act of literary kindness."
- Andrew Sean Greer, author of The Confessions of Max Tivoli