The Joy of Reading

A Passionate Guide to 189 of the World's Best Authors and Their Works

The Joy of Reading
Sourcebooks Inc
This is an enormously readable, critical description of the classic works and their authors, from Homer and Dante to Solzhenitsyn and Salinger, written by the former editor of The Encyclopedia Britannica, The Annals of America (20 Volumes), and The History of Knowledge. The book consists of 15 chapters organized chronologically, from the Golden Age that includes Aristotle and Heroditus to only yesterday, with descriptions of great works by Orwell and Heinlen. Van Doren will begin each chapter with a short introduction about the period, placing the works within that period’s history, and the influence that history had on later books and times. The Joy of Reading contains insightful descriptions, analysis, and comments about a wide range of genres – fiction, poetry, drama, children’s books, philosophy, history, science, and reference books. The author’s personal commentary will awaken and renew a love of literature in every reader. The Joy of Reading will include a complete bibliography. Originally published in 1985, that version of The Joy of Reading was organized alphabetically, based on the authors’ names. In this complete revision, the entries are organized chronologically, and each chapter contains a historical essay on the period it covers, as well as descriptions of each author’s major works. Also included are new entries on more recent works and their authors.

Baker & Taylor
Lists in chronological order the most important and enjoyable books according to the author, with reviews and anecdotes on each literary work.

Book News
This is (mostly) a reprint of a work published in 1985, but clearly there have been updates; the final entry is J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, which finished in 2007. Van Doren (U. of Connecticut) shares his passion for reading in clear, unassuming descriptions of works and authors he loves. His entries include philosophers, poets, fiction authors, and essayists, organized chronologically by era (from the Golden Age to the Present). He ends with a ten-year reading plan for serious readers, although he gently asserts that it's quite ok if it takes 20 years to get through the plan. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Sourcebooks Inc.
"Charles Van Doren has laid a feast before all of us that is irresistible." -Mortimer J. Adler

This engaging love letter to reading follows the great authors and classics that transformed the world: from Aristotle and Herodotus in ancient Greece to Salinger and Heinlein in 20th century America. Like a professor whose enthusiasm enwraps his students, Van Doren explains what's wonderful in the books you've missed and awakens your desire to reopen the books you already know.

Divided chronologically by the periods in which these classics were written, each book is put in its historical context and brought to life by Van Doren's brilliant analysis. The Joy of Reading delves into a wide range of genres-fiction, poetry, drama, children's books, philosophy, history and science. This is the one book that brings together everything you need to know about the classics you missed and ignites your passion to read and reread the greatest books the world has ever known.

This book is the fruit of a lifelong love affair. Reading, I believe, is my favorite thing to do; books and I have been inseparable almost as long as I can remember ... To this day, I become distressed if I am anywhere without a book, a magazine, a newspaper, any scrap of paper to read .... I like the smell of books, certainly the feel of them. Life without books would be, for me, a vacant horror."
-Charles Van Doren

"Nothing recommends the joy of reading better than the communication of it by a person who has spent a lifetime enriched by the delights of reading. Charles Van Doren is that kind of reader. He has laid a feast before us that is irresistible."
-Mortimer J. Adler, author of How to Read a Book

"Mr. Van Doren is that rarity, a truly well read man who reads not for professional purposes but for pleasure. His book spurs us on to explore more deeply and joyfully the infinitely varied terrain of good books."
-Clifton Fadiman, author of The New Lifetime Reading Plan: The Classical Guide to World Literature

Like a professor whose enthusiasm enwraps his students, Van Doren explains what's wonderful in the books you've missed and awakens your desire to reopen the books you already know.

Publisher: Naperville, Ill. : Sourcebooks, c2008
ISBN: 1402211600
Branch Call Number: 011.73 V
Characteristics: xvii, 525 p. ; 24 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

There are no comments for this title yet.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add a Notice

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Find it at NYPL


Buy It Now

Support your library, keep it forever!

View Purchase Options Learn more about this program

Your Cart

Hello! We noticed you have the following items in your cart right now:

If you'd still like to purchase the items you have in your cart, you can do that now.

You'll be able to purchase your eBook after you have checked out your current cart.

To continue with your eBook purchase immediately, you can clear your cart by clicking below.

All items will be removed from your cart.

I'd like to keep browsing! I'll decide later.

Explore Further

Browse the Shelf

Subject Headings