Thursday, January 16, 2020

Book Review: Booked by Karen Swallow Prior

About the Book: 

A life of books. A life of soul. Professor Karen Swallow Prior poignantly and humorously weaves the two, until you can't tell one life from the other. Booked draws on classics like Great Expectations, delights such as Charlotte's Web, the poetry of Hopkins and Donne, and more. This thoughtful, straight-up memoir will be pure pleasure for book-lovers, teachers, and anyone who has struggled to find a way to articulate the inexpressible through a love of story.

My Thoughts:

From beginning to end, Booked by Karen Swallow Prior treated me to a delectable blend of memoir and literary explication. The engaging narrative held my attention as she discussed life experiences and related literature. The author shares candidly about her life and doesn’t shy away from topics like drugs, sex, and spiritual doubt. I loved her blunt, common sense approach to addressing issues in a healthy way that leads to empowerment rather than choosing blind naivete. In short, her life journey and its connection to books fascinated me.

Each chapter of Booked focuses on a literary work, though others may be mentioned. I read some, but not all of the chosen literary works back as an English major in college. While all the works were explained clearly, I absorbed her points more intensely on the ones I was already familiar with. Some of my favorite chapters included:  Books Promiscuously Read (John Milton’s Areopagitica), Beholding is Becoming (Jane Eyre), and The Only Thing Between Me and Tragedy (Tess of the D’Urbervilles). That chapter on Tess had me crying – yes, crying – because of its message/theme.

Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me by Karen Swallow Prior made me want to go back and read some of the classics that I’ve tucked away on my bookshelf for many years. This is a book I’ll keep an read again in the future.

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