This unique memoir of reading the classics to find strength and wisdom “makes an elegant case for literature as an everyday companion” (The New York Times Book Review). While undergoing a series of personal and family crises, Christopher Beha discovered that his grandmother had used the Harvard Classics—the renowned “five foot shelf” of great world literature compiled in the early twentieth century by Charles William Eliot—to educate herself during the Great Depression. He decided to follow her example and turn to this series of great books for answers—and recounts the experience here, in a smart, big-hearted, and inspirational mix of memoir and intellectual excursion that “deftly illustrates how books can save one’s life” (Helen Schulman). “As he grapples with the death of his beloved aunt, a debilitating case of Lyme disease, and other major and minor calamities, Beha finds that writers as diverse as Wordsworth, Pascal, Kant, and Mill had been there before, and that the results of their struggles to find meaning in life could inform his own.” —The Seattle Times “An important book [and] a sheer blast to read.” —Heidi Julavits
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