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on 23 April 2008
It's literary criticism. It's an autobiography. Neither tag ambly describes Maureen Corrigan's "Leave me alone, I'm reading". If I had to compare it to something it would be a book club - the kind of intimate conversation of life and books that book worms share.

Maureen, yes, we're on a first name basis - Maureen talks of three genres, she has read and reread throughout her life: women's extreme-adventure tales, detective fiction, and Catholic Secular-Martyr Tales intermingled with reflections of her life.

And what has this book taught me? That I am not alone in the world. There are other extremist book worms out there. That although reading is a private activity, it can be shared. That I have the power to draw a red thread through my past readings and that it doesn't have to conform with any curriculum or known genres. And above all, that there is plenty more to read. Maureen speak of plenty that I MUST read.


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I've always had my head buried in a book since I learned to read. A book has been my escape from worries in the real world and my comfort in times of stress and grief. I can recharge my batteries by reading a favourite book. So the title of this book appealed to me. I found it a fascinating read. The author reviews books on radio and for newspapers and magazines and lectures on literature at university - including detective fiction. Making a living from reading, writing and talking about books has to be the ideal life for any bookworm.

It isn't just about books and the part they have played in the author's life. There are fascinating insights into her life from her Irish-Catholic childhood in New York and into her adoption of a Chinese baby girl, Molly, when all hopes of having her own biological children had faded. There are interesting reading lists at the end of the book and many suggestions for new titles to be read scattered throughout the text.

I found the author's comments on detective fiction interesting reading especially her comments on Dorothy L Sayers' Gaudy Night: A Lord Peter Wimsley Mystery (A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery). She makes the works of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Robert B Parker sound so interesting that I could even be tempted to try reading them.

The author discusses how women's adventure and endurance fiction takes place in the home whereas heroes are meant to go out and fight battles outside the domestic sphere. But women can find home life every bit as much a test of stamina and endurance as fighting battles on foreign soil. I found the chapter on the books she read as a school girl very interesting and moving especially the two books about a girl called Karen who had cerebral palsy when sufferers were routinely institutionalised.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves reading and who loves books. Even if you don't find anything new to read it is always interesting to find out what other people think about the books you love or hate.
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VINE VOICEon 28 October 2012
As a complete book obsessive, I also love the idea of reading about other book lovers experiences with books.
In reality though I'm usually disappointed as, inevitably, they like different books to me and particular books mean different things to them and I come away feeling unfulfilled.
However this book was recommended so I thought I'd give it a go.
I liked the introduction and felt that I could connect to the author but very quickly got fed up once the book started. This should have been enjoyable but it wasn't and I stopped reading about a quarter the way thorough.
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on 3 July 2016
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