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80 Great Books from a Lifetime of Reviews

John Carey

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A collection of John Carey’s greatest, wisest, and wittiest reviews—amassed over a lifetime of writing

In 1977, newly installed as a professor of English at Oxford, John Carey took the position of chief reviewer for the Sunday Times. In a career spanning over 40 years and upwards of 1,000 reviews, Carey has kept abreast of the brightest and best books of the day, distilling his thoughts each week for the entertainment of Sunday readers.

Contained in this volume is the cream of that substantial crop: a choice selection of the books which Carey has most cherished. Covering subjects as diverse as the science of laughter, the art of Grayson Perry, the history of madness, and Sylvia Plath's letters, this is a collection of treats and surprises, suffused with careful thought, wisdom and enjoyment. The result is a compendium of titles which have stood the test of time, offered with Carey's warmest recommendation. 

John Carey is emeritus professor at the University of Oxford. His recent titles include 100 Poets: A Little Anthology and A Little History of Poetry. John Carey has been reviewing two books per month for the Sunday Times since the mid-1970s.

“Surely the sharpest and wisest of our current critics - and the one who makes us laugh too.”—Claire Tomalin

“John Carey is the finest literary critic of the age, and this collection of his reviews is a calling card of his many virtues - the breadth of his interests, his incisiveness, his fearlessness, his wit, his wonderfully fierce moral vision, and above all his clarity - you may search in vain for a semi-colon - and his desire to communicate as broadly as possible. An exemplary collection from an exemplary writer.”—Andrew Holgate, Sunday Times Literary Editor

“Whether he’s discussing the appeal of Sherlock Holmes or the popularity of cannibalism in the siege of Leningrad, John Carey’s reviews are always marvels of clarity, revelation, human warmth and acerbic wit. This is literary journalism at its stylish pinnacle.”—John Walsh, Former Sunday Times Literary Editor

“Unlike the majority of his colleagues and descendants, Carey never switches code or shifts guises, speaking now as a populist, now as a specialist. He has no need to – for more than 50 years, his taut, spry, flexible, idiomatic style has enabled him to engage a large non-specialist audience without, for the most part, stinting his deep infectious belief that literature is serious, and matters.”—Leo Robson, Lead Fiction Reviewer at the New Statesman

“For Carey, as this ridiculously enjoyable selection of his greatest hits 1986-2021 demonstrates, the reconciliation of high learning and popular reach is not a headache, but an art…From Sherlock Holmes to Germaine Greer, these reviews prove that John Carey is the finest literary critic of our age.”—Sebastian Faulks, The Sunday Times

“John writes for the casual reader rather than the expert and cleverly mines the books for their best anecdotes — making this an engaging read.”—Thomas Barrie, House and Garden ‘Gifts for Bookworms’
ISBN: 9780300266689
Publication Date: November 15, 2022
312 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
100 Poets

A Little Anthology

John Carey

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