Why Read: Selected Writings, 2001–2021 by Will Self

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From the Booker-shortlisted author of Umbrella, a world-girdling collection of writings inspired by a life lived in and for literature

From one of the most unusual and distinctive writers working today, dubbed “the most daring and delightful novelist of his generation” by the Guardian, Will Self’s Why Read is a cornucopia of thoughtful and brilliantly witty essays on writing and literature.

Self takes us with him: from the foibles of his typewriter repairman to the irradiated exclusion zone of Chernobyl, to the Australian outback, and to literary forms past and future. With his characteristic intellectual brio, Self aims his inimitable eye at titans of literature like Woolf, Kafka, Orwell, and Conrad. He writes movingly on W.G. Sebald’s childhood in Germany and provocatively describes the elevation of William S. Burroughs’s Junky from shocking pulp novel to beloved cult classic. Self also expands on his regular column in Literary Hub to ask readers, how, what, and ultimately why we should read in an ever-changing world. Whether he is writing on the rise of the bookshelf as an item of furniture in the nineteenth century or on the impossibility of Googling his own name in a world lived online, Self’s trademark intoxicating prose and mordant, energetic humor infuse every piece.

A book that examines how the human stream of consciousness flows into and out of literature, Why Read will satisfy both old and new readers of this icon of contemporary literature.

Why Read: Selected Writings, 2001–2021 by Will Self