How many times have we heard that reading builds empathy? That we can travel through books? How often have we claimed that books saved our lives?
These familiar words are beautiful, aspirational and sometimes even true. But award-winning novelist Elaine Castillo has more ambitious hopes for our reading culture, and in this collection of linked essays, she moves to reposition it as thornier, ultimately more rewarding work.
How to Read Now explores the politics and ethics of reading, and insists that we are capable of something better: a more engaged relationship not just with our fiction and our art, but with our buried and entangled histories.
Smart, funny and sometimes profane, Castillo attacks the stale questions and less-than-critical proclamations that masquerade as vital discussion: reimagining the cartography of the classics, building a moral case against the settler colonialism of lauded writers like Joan Didion, taking aim at Nobel Prize winners and toppling indie filmmakers, and celebrating glorious moments in everything from popular TV to contemporary poetry.
At once a deeply personal and searching history of one woman's reading life, and a wide-ranging and urgent intervention into our globalized conversations about why reading matters today, How to Read Now empowers us to embrace a more complicated, embodied form of reading.
Hardback, 304 pages.
Measures 14.4 x 22.4 cm.