One Reporter. Three Schools. Twenty-four Books That Can Change Lives.
“Denby makes an impassioned case for the critical importance of books to the lives of young people.”—Dale Russakoff, The New York Times Book Review
It’s no secret that millions of American teenagers, caught up in social media, television, movies, and games, don’t read seriously—they associate sustained reading with duty or work, not with pleasure. Can teenagers be turned on to serious reading? What kind of teachers can do it, and what books? To find out, Denby sat in on a tenth-grade English class in a demanding New York public school for an entire academic year, and made frequent visits to a troubled inner-city public school in New Haven and to a respected public school in Westchester county. He read all the stories, poems, plays, and novels that the kids were reading, and creates an impassioned portrait of charismatic teachers at work, classroom dramas large and small, and fresh and inspiring encounters with the books themselves, including The Scarlet Letter, Brave New World, 1984, Slaughterhouse-Five, Notes From Underground, A Long Way Gone and many more. In a sea of bad news about education and the fate of the book, Denby reaffirms the power of great teachers and the importance and inspiration of great books.
David Denby is the author of Great Books, American Sucker, Snark, and Do the Movies Have a Future? He is a staff writer and former film critic for The New Yorker, and his reviews and essays have appeared in The New Republic,The Atlantic, and New York magazine, among other places. He lives in New York City with his wife, writer Susan Rieger.
Beyond the Book
Listen to an excerpt from the audiobook!