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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stop What You're Doing and Read This!
This book contains ten essays by authors, publishers and other passionate advocates of reading, all giving reasons why reading is important - if not essential - in our lives. It talks about the thousands of children in our country who cannot read and write with competence and those who rarely read outside of the classroom. The parents who do not read to their children,...
Published on 27 April 2012 by S Riaz

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great If You Love Books Already, Would It Convert Someone Though?
`Stop What You're Doing And Read This!' is a collection composed of ten essays by authors (such as Blake Morrison, Zadie Smith, Jeanette Winterson, Mark Haddon etc) as well as people in the industry such as Virago founder and Man Booker judge Carmen Callil and Jane Davis, who is the founder and director of The Reader Organisation which this book is supporting, discussing...
Published on 28 Mar. 2012 by Simon Savidge Reads


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great If You Love Books Already, Would It Convert Someone Though?, 28 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Stop What You're Doing And Read This! (Paperback)
`Stop What You're Doing And Read This!' is a collection composed of ten essays by authors (such as Blake Morrison, Zadie Smith, Jeanette Winterson, Mark Haddon etc) as well as people in the industry such as Virago founder and Man Booker judge Carmen Callil and Jane Davis, who is the founder and director of The Reader Organisation which this book is supporting, discussing the importance of reading and the joy that books can bring in their many forms.

The collection starts with Zadie Smith's `Library Life' which shows the importance of books and libraries in particular to her shaping as a writer and finding books and also as spaces for her to do her writing. It is an impassioned and political essay which looks at how the people making the decisions about libraries are probably the ones with enough income to have their own personal libraries and so may not be the best people to leave in charge of such issues. Blake Morrison, who I have never read before but now most definitely will be, follows with the superb `Twelve Thoughts About Reading' which had me going `yes, that's me, yes, that's me again'.

I liked Carmen Callil's essay `True Daemons' but considering she set up Virago books I didn't feel this was really discussed, it is mentioned but in a paragraph and actually an essay on why she had been so desperate to get the unknown/forgotten/overlooked books published and so set up her own publishing house would have been a phenomenal and far more apt inclusion, it felt a little like a missed opportunity as instead it became something of a piece on class and the books people feel they ought to read rather than ones they want to. The class thing interestingly leads me into my main issue with the book...

A book like `Stop What You're Doing and Read This!' could have one slight flaw to it and become worthy or preachy. Fortunately there was only one essay in the collection that, to me, jarred and that was Tim Parks, unfortunately it jarred and lingered. I don't know Tim Parks, I have not read any of his books, but for me his `Mindful Reading' came across as a little bit pompous and clever, in fact it read rather like a high brow person (who knows it and loves it) feeling like he was writing for low brow about how clever we readers are and therefore, not so cleverly, excluding the reader completely. I didn't like it, and this broke the spell and made me suddenly ask the question `if I wasn't a lover of books would this book make me rush out and read more?' and I kept asking this as I read on and it left me in a real quandary. I am a book lover as it is, so naturally I would enjoy this book as would any book lover the world over, but is this going to be taken on board by the people it's aimed at, which technically isn't me because I am an avid reader, I was not convinced.

From this point on I doubly assessed each following essay and ones that proceeded it, well apart from Mark Haddon's incredible essay `The Right Words in the Right Order' but more on that shortly. I looked back at Carmen Callil's essay and found myself thinking `I know who she is because I love books, would anyone who didn't love literature know who she was and would her essay therefore work as well?' As someone who isn't a fan of poetry I thought Jane Davis' essay on the power of it (and indeed reading aloud and why she started The Reader Organisation) was incredible and very moving. There were a couple of lines that almost went into a rather worthy and preachy mode; I put this down to simply her passion, would anyone else who happened upon this book feel the same or would they think `who does she think she is?' With Michael Rosen's `Memories and Expectations' I found the book lover in me thinking `wow, this has made me want to run out and grab Great Expectations right now' because of Rosen's poignant memories of storytelling, but also thinking `this is a wonderful piece of writing but is it only going to appeal to readers of The Guardian, myself included, rather than the layman who doesn't read?' I feel bad writing that, because I enjoyed the book so much personally, but once that one essay made me question the whole collection that question wouldn't leave.

Three essays in the second half (along with the wonder of Blake Morrison's essay earlier on) almost erased it however. Nicholas Carr's `The Dreams of Readers' is a wonderful essay on how no matter what technology comes next nothing will ever beat the novel, he won extra brownie points from me when I found out he writes about technology, it almost doubled the power of the point he was trying to get across. Jeanette Winterson's `A Bed. A Book. A Mountain.' is a wonderful piece on where a story can take you and the thrills and experience it can bring from wherever you are. The essay that steals the show though has to be Mark Haddon's `The Right Words in the Right Order' I don't care if you love books or loathe them, read this and you'll be converted or simply love books even more than you thought naturally possible. It is brimming with wonderful ideas about reading and books and I loved it. I was going to quote lots from it but frankly you should buy the book for yourself and everyone you know simply for this one essay.

A rather rambling and conflicted set of thoughts on `Stop What You're Doing And Read This!' overall. As a book lover and on a personal level this was a sublime read in many ways, but I am left with that questions of `am I the audience this book should be hitting' and `if I was to give this book to a non-reader would they become converted' and I am left unsure. If you read this blog I know you love books and so will, if you haven't already, be off to get this book swiftly (and quite right too as it supports a great cause). Yet what about all those people who don't read the broadsheets or blogs or who might not see this on a shelf in Waterstones though? It is something I can't really answer.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stop What You're Doing and Read This!, 27 April 2012
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This book contains ten essays by authors, publishers and other passionate advocates of reading, all giving reasons why reading is important - if not essential - in our lives. It talks about the thousands of children in our country who cannot read and write with competence and those who rarely read outside of the classroom. The parents who do not read to their children, the homes which do not have books. Assuming you are browsing books on Amazon suggests you are a reader, whether devoted or casual, but this book aims to argue the importance of books and reading in all of our lives. From Zadie Smith's portrayal of her family as chronic library users, to Carmel Callil (found of Virago) writing of discovering her beloved fathers book collection after his death, to the wonderful Michael Rosen discussing his father reading Dickens aloud on camping trips to Jane David, attempting through her The Reader Organisation to bring the joys of reading aloud to those who may not have experienced it before, this is a book full of joy for the love of reading and the importance of literature and poetry in all of our lives. There are also scientific arguments for the positive aspects for those who need to be convinced, but reading has enriched my life so much that I could no sooner live without books than I could without food. I suspect the same of you, but, even if you need no convincing that books are great, this is an entertaining and important read in its own right.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The riches of reading, 24 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Stop What You're Doing And Read This! (Paperback)
This truly is a book that everyone should read, because it's about the riches, and the richness, of the reading experience. How we read, what happens to our brains and emotions when we read, why we need to read - if I could put it all in a review there's be no need for this book, but there is a need for it. In a world where libraries are being shut and people turn to short-term and short attention-span pursuits, there has never been a greater need for the kind of immersive experience that reading offers. It's not for snobs, not for the educated, not "educational" - it's a basic human need which helps us to learn about ourselves, our neighbours, and our world, which changes (literally) and delights us, which sometimes (literally) saves our lives. Please buy this book, pass it on to friends and enemies, give it as a present - it's cheap enough. Above all, read these amazing, humane, and wonderful essays. I know you'll enjoy and marvel at their insight and relevance. I know you'll enjoy them. And I know that you'll see the value of their observations. They blew me away. Enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The pleasures of reading, 7 May 2012
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Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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This book consists of a collection of essays about the enduring pleasures of reading. Whether or not the authors were brought up in houses full of books they still developed a taste for books at a relatively young age. This shows how important it is for children to be introduced to books early in life. In any age when many children don't own a book and only read what they have to read as part of their school work this is a timely reminder that books are for life and not just for school.

I can remember the pleasure of being taken to the library and allowed to spend some time on my own in the children's section while my mother chose her own books and then showing her my own selections when she came to find me. Going to the library was exciting for me as a child because it opened up a whole other world of travel, adventure, school stories set in schools totally different from my own. I also found the change to adult books to be almost seamless because some books appeared in the adult and children's sections.

These essays reminded me of how books were such a part of my own childhood and continued to form a big part of my life as an adult. I could never understand people who always wanted to live in the real world and who regarded reading as a waste of time. Reading is not just about losing oneself in a story as it can be a means of finding the answer to a problem or a means of teaching a new skill.

I thought it was interesting that the essays were positive about e-books as being another means of reading books. I was also intrigued by the idea that the digital world can transform reading. A digital version of a Shakespeare play for example might include links to a performance of the play, experts discussing the play or an actor reading some of the lines. Such things add a new dimension to reading but they are likely to remain an addition to reading books in any format rather than a substitute for reading them.

This is a thought provoking book which will be of interest to anyone who enjoys reading
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Essential Read, 19 Jan. 2013
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I have never before reflected on the process of reading or why I find it so gratifying. This is an easy and speedy way of throwing light on it all!
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best bits are inspirational, 31 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Stop What You're Doing And Read This! (Paperback)
As an avid reader it was a given that I would read this book. The benefits of reading, both for pleasure and as a source of lifelong learning and discovery, simply cannot be overestimated. That being said, having read the book I struggled with whether to award it five stars or three, eventually compromising on four. Five stars because the concept of the book is fantastic, and what could be better than having eleven leading writers share the joys of what reading means to them with the reader. Three stars because, and this is perhaps inevitable with a multi-authored book, some writers' styles appeal to me more than others, even when they are writing about a subject that I hold dear. However, my recommendation is that you do read the book as the best bits are inspirational (although your best bits may differ from mine!)
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22 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very inspiring read, 7 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Stop What You're Doing And Read This! (Paperback)
I have not yet read the whole book but the preview essay by Zadie Smith is short of brilliant. Her description of the importance of her local library as a child reminds of the huge role mine has played for me. Many people would never have seen a university library from the inside had it not been for the passion for reading and learning that had been instilled in them at a very young age.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 4 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: Stop What You're Doing And Read This! (Paperback)
I bought this book because I am an avid reader, who believes in the wider benefits of reading, and feels drawn to others that share my philosophy. I really enjoyed this book and read it very quickly, over about 3 days, and I think the combination of the different perspectives presented made a good case for why we should all read.

My only criticism of it would be that in a sense it is 'preaching to the converted' as it is people like me who will pick up this book, not those who don't enjoy reading! It could be a good book to pass on people who don't read to encourage them or to buy them as a gift, but I fear that would come across as a bit patronising!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To the joy of reading., 8 Mar. 2012
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quazy wabbit (West Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Stop What You're Doing And Read This! (Paperback)
After greatly enjoying the choice extracts from this book on Radio 4's book of the week I resigned myself to buying it to read the remaining essays. A very well crafted joyous exposision of what it is to read and loose yourself in a world of words. If that sounds trite I would hand you over to the expertise and eloquence of the collective authors. Definitely bigger than the sum of its parts!
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 3 May 2012
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Linda Mayhew "Holly" (UK) - See all my reviews
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I so enjoyed this book on my Kindle I had to buy 2 paper copies, 1 for me to keep and refer too the other to give away on World book day! It confirms lots of beliefs and sparks new ideas. Life enhancing, also introduced me to writers I hadn't read and to the Reader's organisation. As said brilliant
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Stop What You're Doing And Read This!
Stop What You're Doing And Read This! by Jane Davis (Paperback - 26 Dec. 2011)
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