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‘It will remind you of what it really means to be a reader . . .’

‘What makes Slightly Foxed: The Real Reader’s Quarterly so great? As I perused the latest issue, I realized that in many ways it’s exactly what I wish my blog to be, and what I appreciate about other blogs. Each issue contains around a dozen and a half essays in which readers of many stripes celebrate books that have moved, enlightened, impressed, or astonished them. The selection of titles is wonderfully eclectic, blithely leaping over barriers of genre, subject matter, language, geography, target age, and publication date.

The current issue, for example, includes pieces on the journal written by Sir Walter Scott as he teetered on the brink of bankruptcy; Alison Lurie’s Los Angeles novel The Nowhere City; exploring Athens with a nineteenth-century Murray guide (better than Baedecker); a novel of women’s rights by a famous suffragette (and discarded lover of H.G. Wells); Spanish poet Juan Ramon Jimenez’s prose ode to his donkey; and many more. With some well-known classics, some obscure and forgotten titles, and some overlooked contemporary gems, it’s a good representation of the kind of assortment to be found in each quarterly issue, though the actual content is always delightfully unexpected. Whether or not I would previously have thought to be interested in such topics, I always read each issue from cover to cover with unabated joy in the expansion of my reading horizons.

Though the authors of these pieces are often celebrated writers and scholars themselves, their tone is unstuffy, generous, and never, ever pretentious. (You can tell that they don’t take themselves too seriously from the amusing biographical snippets at the end of each essay.) They frequently include anecdotes of how a book came into their lives or what role it played for them personally. Yet their writing is always intelligent, discerning, and considered, as they bring subjective interest to their topics without losing their objective critical eyes.

Bloggers have gotten some bad press lately for not being “real readers,” not qualified to pass judgment on the books they discuss. When the name-calling gets ugly, put down your weapons and pick up an issue of Slightly Foxed. It will remind you of what it really means to be a reader: to be endlessly intrigued and delighted by what we can learn from books, and how they can both challenge and console us. It’s an inspiration to me in my own small efforts to share one reader’s journey, and I hope will be to you as well.’

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