Excerpt from How To Read And Why by Harold Bloom, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

How To Read And Why

by Harold Bloom

How To Read And Why
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2000, 283 pages
    Sep 2001, 283 pages

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Contents and Prologue


Prologue: Why Read?

I. Short Stories

Ivan Turgenev, "Bezhin Lea"
Anton Chekhov, "Kasyan from the Beautiful Lands"
Guy de Maupassant, "The Kiss", "The Student", "The Lady with the Dog" "Madame Tellier's Establishment"
"The Horla"

Ernest Hemingway, "Hills Like White Elephants" "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen" "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" "A Sea Change"
Flannery O'Connor, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" "Good Country People" "A View of the Woods"
Vladimir Nabokov, "The Vane Sisters"
Jorge Luis Borges, "Tlön, Ugbar, Orbis Tertius"
Tommaso Landolfi, "Gogol's Wife"
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
Summary Observations

II. Poems

Housman, Blake, Landor, and Tennyson
A. E. Housman, "Into My Heart an Air That Kills"
William Blake, "The Sick Rose"
Walter Savage Landor, "On His Seventy-fifth Birthday"
Alfred Lord Tennyson, "The Eagle", "Ulysses"
Robert Browning, "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came"
Walt Whitman "Song of Myself"

Dickinson, Brontë, Popular Ballads, and "Tom O'Bedlam"
Emily Dickinson Poem 1260, "Because That You Are Going"
Emily Brontë, "Stanzas: Often Rebuked, Yet Always Back Returning"
Popular Ballads, "Sir Patrick Spence" "The Unquiet Grave"
Anonymous, "Tom O'Bedlam"

William Shakespeare
Sonnet 121, "'Tis Better to Be Vile Than Vile Esteemed"
Sonnet 129, "Th' Expense of Spirit in a Waste of Shame"
Sonnet 144, "Two Loves I Have, of Comfort and Despair"

Milton, Wordsworth and Coleridge
John Milton, "Paradise Lost"
William Wordsworth, "A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal" "My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold"
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"

Shelley and Keats
Percy Bysshe Shelley, "The Triumph of Life"
John Keats, "La Belle Dame Sans Merci"
Summary Observations

III. Novels, Part I

Miguel de Cervantes: Don Quixote
Stendhal: The Charterhouse of Parma
Jane Austen: Emma
Charles Dickens: Great Expectations
Fyodor Dostoevsky: Crime and Punishment
Henry James: The Portrait of a Lady
Marcel Proust: In Search of Lost Time
Thomas Mann: The Magic Mountain
Summary Observations

IV. Plays

William Shakespeare: Hamlet
Henrik Ibsen: Hedda Gabler
Oscar Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest
Summary Observations

V. Novels, Part II

Herman Melville: Moby-Dick
William Faulkner: As I Lay Dying
Nathanael West: Miss Lonelyhearts
Thomas Pynchon: The Crying of Lot
Cormac McCarthy: Blood Meridian
Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man
Toni Morrison: Song of Solomon
Summary Observations

Epilogue: Completing the Work

Prologue: Why Read?

It matters, if individuals are to retain any capacity to form their own judgments and opinions, that they continue to read for themselves. How they read, well or badly, and what they read, cannot depend wholly upon themselves, but why they read must be for and in their own interest. You can read merely to pass the time, or you can read with an overt urgency, but eventually you will read against the clock. Bible readers, those who search the Bible for themselves, perhaps exemplify the urgency more plainly than readers of Shakespeare, yet the quest is the same. One of the uses of reading is to prepare ourselves for change, and the final change alas is universal.

Copyright © 2000 by Harold Bloom. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Simon & Schuster.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...
  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Comet Seekers
    by Helen Sedgwick

    A magical, intoxicating debut novel, both intimate and epic.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.