The Shelf

The Shelf

From LEQ to LES

Book - 2014
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"Phyllis Rose embarks on a grand literary experiment--to read her way through a random shelf of library books, LEQ-LES. Can you have an Extreme Adventure in a library? Phyllis Rose casts herself into the wilds of an Upper East Side lending library in an effort to do just that. Hoping to explore the "real ground of literature," she reads her way through a somewhat randomly chosen shelf of fiction, from LEQ to LES. The shelf has everything Rose could wish for--a classic she has not read, a remarkable variety of authors, and a range of literary styles. The early nineteenth-century Russian classic A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov is spine by spine with The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Stories of French Canadian farmers sit beside those about aristocratic Austrians. California detective novels abut a picaresque novel from the seventeenth century. There are several novels by a wonderful, funny, contemporary novelist who has turned to raising dogs because of the tepid response to her work. In The Shelf, Rose investigates the books on her shelf with exuberance, candor, and wit while pondering the many questions her experiment raises and measuring her discoveries against her own inner shelf--those texts that accompany us through life. 'Fairly sure that no one in the history of the world has read exactly this series of novels,' she sustains a sense of excitement as she creates a refreshingly original and generous portrait of the literary enterprise"-- Provided by publisher
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780374261207
Characteristics: 271 pages ; 22 cm


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Nov 11, 2015

I really enjoyed this book. The author randomly selects a shelf at the library and commits to reading through it. She then shares her thoughts on the work and the authors. Those who enjoy literary fiction will enjoy this book.

Oct 20, 2014

I practice "random reading". When I go into the Gabriola branch of VIRL my usual route is to drop off books I've finished, look at the culled books that are for sale, and then to browse and pluck from the new books display.

THE SHELF - from LEQ to LES is a new book (2014) and the subtitle: Adventures in Extreme Reading caught my attention. I wasn't disappointed. Using self imposed rules, the author Phyllis Rose decides to read the shelf of fiction books from LEQ to LES. I found her experiment fascinating and productive. Phyllis Rose is an accomplished author and she amended her reading rules as she went along. She even made direct contact with a couple of the authors she discovered on this shelf from the New York Society Library.

I enjoyed the chapter LIBRARIES: MAKING SPACE which is about the culling process used by libraries. I have wondered often why such quality books are available to me to purchase from the discard cart. Read the book to find out what the acronyms CREW and MUSTIE stand for in the culling process.

I had already read one of the books on THE SHELF, and I am going to track down and read A HERO OF OUR TIME in the newest of three translations that she read in here experiment as I do try to be not totally random in my reading.

jtrousdell Sep 11, 2014

I have just discovered Phyllis Rose's book of brilliant literary criticism, which explores books picked at random off a library shelf. Phyllis Rose is a funny, humane, supremely intelligent writer who has broadened my world of reading enormously. I cannot understand why we have so few of her books in our library. Please, please, I would love to read "Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages" (Knopf 1983), "The Year of Reading Proust" (Scribner 1997) and "Woman of Letters: Biography of Virginia Woolf" (l979).

'The Year of Reading Proust" (Scribner 1997)

hgeng63 Jun 30, 2014

Enjoyable, though I expected more precision from the author of Parallel Lives. Don't miss chapter 8: Libraries: Making Space, about deaccessioning.


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