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About the book
  • Published: 1 January 1998
  • ISBN: 9780099552963
  • Imprint: Arrow
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 576
  • RRP: $27.99

How to be Well Read

A guide to 500 great novels and a handful of literary curiosities

A very personal guide to the best novels ever

As the annual flow of novels grows ever greater, it's a hard job to keep up, let alone sort the wheat from the chaff. Fortunately John Sutherland is on hand to do precisely that for you, and in 500 wittily informative essays he introduces you to the very best of the world's fiction. His taste is impressively catholic: an appreciation of The Ambassadors is immediately followed by a consideration of American Psycho. War and Peace, Heat and Dust and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory all make an appearance. There are imposing Victorian novels, entertaining contemporary thrillers and everything in between, from spy novels to romance. In each case a sense of the flavour of the novel is brilliantly evoked and a compelling case made for why it should be a candidate for the bookshelf or bedside table. The end result is both a wonderful dip-in book and a virtual history of the novel.

  • Pub date: 1 January 1998
  • ISBN: 9780099552963
  • Imprint: Arrow
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 576
  • RRP: $27.99

About the Author

John Sutherland

John Sutherland is Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus of Modern English Literature at University College London and previously taught at the California Institute of Technology. He writes regularly for the Guardian, The Times and the New York Times, and is the author of many books including Curiosities of Literature, Is Henry V a War Criminal? (with Cedric Watts), biographies of Walter Scott, Stephen Spender and the Victorian elephant Jumbo, and The Boy Who Loved Books, a memoir.

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Praise for How to be Well Read

“500 expertly potted plots and personal comments on a wide range of pop and proper prose fiction.”

The Times

“Generous, enjoyable and well informed.”


“A dazzling array of genres, periods, styles and tastes… chatty, insightful, unprejudiced (but not uncritical) and wise.”

Times Literary Supplement

“Anyone hooked on fiction should be warned: this book will feed your addiction.”

Mail on Sunday

“A glorious selection of books to tempt you - all considered in witty and elegant prose. Highly recommended.”

Sue Magee, The Bookbag

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