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We are not born readers, we learn to turn words into worlds. But why is fine writing lauded while excellent reading is ignored?

In The Art of Reading, philosopher Damon Young reveals the pleasures of this intimate pursuit through a rich sample of literature: from Virginia Woolf's diaries to Batman comics. He writes with honesty and humour about the blunders and revelations of his own bookish life.

Devoting each chapter to a literary virtue—curiosity, patience, courage, pride, temperance, justice—The Art of Reading celebrates the reader's power: to turn shapes on a page into a lifelong adventure.

The Art of Reading is out now in Australia (MUP) and the UK and US (Scribe). Translations include: Dutch (2016), Turkish (2018), Chinese (2020).

Praise for the book:

' ethics of attention towards the written word.... [A]n eminently readable, rousing and hugely intelligent account.' - The Australian

'Young has selected six virtues that...books demand of us, and...[h]e has the kind of well-developed inner critic that these virtues support. ' - The Times Literary Supplement (UK)


'...the breadth of reference is impressive, but never overbearing, thanks to the Australian philosopher’s lightness of touch, self-deprecating humour and endearing deployment of the word “bunkum”.' - Irish Times (UK)

'Young has nailed it.' - Publisher's Weekly (US).

'a worthy challenge to read bravely, to regard deeply, and to weigh ideas with discernment and generosity.' - Kirkus Reviews (US)

'...a philosopher of fierce intellect and erudition, but also playful and eclectic in his tastes.' - The Sydney Morning Herald

' excellent argument for why reading is desirable for its own sake.' -Bookseller+Publisher 

"The erudite, sometimes playful Australian philosopher and columnist is the most avid of readers." - The Post and Courier (US)

'Young shows us how to cultivate our inner critic and read better, while celebrating reading and readers.' - Stylist (UK)

'From Virginia Woolf's elegant experimental novels to Frank Miller's comic books, Young's approach is omnivorous and inspiring.' - In the Moment (UK)

'...a hypnotic, erudite and riveting analysis of why we lose and find ourselves in the pages of books...' - Bookanista (UK)

'Young extols the virtues gifted to us by a well-stocked bookcase...' - Australian Women's Weekly


'[N]uanced, articulate... the book illuminates the many prejudices and habits that a reader can have--and how fluid they are.' - The Big Issue


'An erudite and engaging enquiry into the transformative power of reading.’ - novelist Melissa Harrison 


'Damon Young’s The Art of Reading is a brilliant, wide-ranging exploration of the nature and value of reading, a serious philosopher’s serious game with literature. Witty and graceful...' - poet and translator George Szirtes


'Reading about reading feels like it should be confusing, but Damon Young makes it both intriguing and insightful.’ Dean Burnett, author and neuroscientist


'For Damon Young, writers are like secret agents gone rogue, grabbing us by the lapels and inviting us into a realm of delicious ambiguity. The Art of Reading is an intimately conspiratorial book – erudite, surprising, and persuasive.’ - author and critic Henry Hitchings 


'A beautifully written and thoughtfully constructed ode to the inner worlds opened up by the page, and the role of reading in the discovery and development of the self. The Art of Reading is just what I needed to remind me I am neither alone - nor irrational - in my bibliophilia.’ - novelist Tara Moss


'A compelling riff on the best kind of reading - with unfettered curiosity and courage.' - Hilary McPhee, author, editor and publisher


'The Art of Reading is perhaps [Young's] best yet. It's difficult to write about an unseen phenomenon, and yet he does so engagingly, compulsively, from the first page...' - novelist John Birmingham 

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