Literary Taste: How to Form It

Read by Timothy Ferguson

(4.7 stars; 40 reviews)

Arnold Bennett describes a method for enjoying literature, and suggests the contents of a comprehensive library. Chapters 1-10 and 14 describe his method for learning to enjoy literature. Chapters 11, 12, and 13 contain detailed lists of the 337 volumes required to complete a comprehensive library of English works. This reading is from the 1913 version at Project Gutenberg, and so does not contain the revisions made by Swinnerton for the 1939 edition, which included authors of the early Twentieth Century. Swinnerton's revisions are available from Wikipedia. (Summary by Timothy Ferguson) (3 hr 0 min)


01- The Aim 10:18 Read by Timothy Ferguson
02 - Your Particular Case 9:56 Read by Timothy Ferguson
03 - Why a Classic is a Classic 9:15 Read by Timothy Ferguson
04 - Where to Begin 11:06 Read by Timothy Ferguson
05 - How to Read a Classic 11:22 Read by Timothy Ferguson
06 - The Question of Syle 18:41 Read by Timothy Ferguson
07 - Wrestling with an Author 12:00 Read by Timothy Ferguson
08 - System in Reading 9:46 Read by Timothy Ferguson
09 - Verse 19:09 Read by Timothy Ferguson
10 - Broad Counsels 9:14 Read by Timothy Ferguson
11 - An English Library: Period I 11:14 Read by Timothy Ferguson
12 - An English Library: Period II 8:23 Read by Timothy Ferguson
13 - An English Library: Period III 19:42 Read by Timothy Ferguson
14 - Mental Stocktaking 20:46 Read by Timothy Ferguson


An Excellent book

(5 stars)

This book was put on our book club list and so I listened to it out of duty, not expecting much at all. I was amazed and very, very pleased. The author of this book has a facility with English that made me smile many, many times. His insights on the entire 'literary' world were enlightening and very encouraging to someone like me, who really does need some taste! This book will be listened to by me again very soon. Really, try it. It is great and I've listened to 1250+ books in the past 14 years so I am not easily impressed.

Great Book

(5 stars)

Few books spur me to action, but this has done it. Bennett's chapter on verse begins: "There is a word, a "name of fear," which rouses terror in the heart of the vast educated majority of the English-speaking race. The most valiant will fly at the mere utterance of that word. The most broad-minded will put their backs up against it. The most rash will not dare to affront it. I myself have seen it empty buildings that had been full; and I know that it will scatter a crowd more quickly than a hose-pipe, hornets, or the rumour of plague. Even to murmur it is to incur solitude, probably disdain, and possibly starvation, as historical examples show. That word is 'poetry.'" Timothy Ferguson does an excellent job of reading the entire book, but after his alternately humorous and chiding reading of this chapter, I have embarked to take the cure and downloaded William Hazlitt's essay "On Poetry in General" to get me started on a path to reading (and enjoying) poetry without fear. I second Phil and highly recommend this book. Whether you want to read more, or have read much, Bennett will get you thinking about why and what you read and, should you take his suggestions to heart, will invariably help you to become a better reader.

Don't be put off by the title

(5 stars)

This is a little gem. Written by the talented Midlands-born author of Anna of the Five Towns, the Clayhanger trilogy, etc., this piece is witty and down to earth. There's nothing highfalutin or obscure here, just an honest love of literature. Bennett insists that deriving pleasure from their beautiful language is not the real benefit of reading "classics" (which term he defines). Neither is reading literature is merely "a pleasant pastime and nothing else." Rather its purpose is to "inform and transform your existence." I cannot praise the reader, Timothy Ferguson, too highly. His gentle Australian accent and subtle phrasing are perfect for this piece. And sometimes he even breaks into a titter over Bennett's clever prose! TheBookworm (Manchester, UK)

Classic curmudgeon wit

(5 stars)

Do you enjoy reading and want to be well-read, but not quite know where to start? Bennett tells you precisely where, why, and, how. "The aim of literary study is not to amuse the hours of leisure; it is to awake oneself, it i to be alive, to intensify one’s capacity for pleasure, for sympathy, and for comprehension. It is not to affect one hour, but twenty-four hours. It is to change utterly one’s relations with the world."

it's probably raycysy

(4.5 stars)

I never read or listened to this, but I do know that everyone born by 1980 owned slaves. my best guess is the author was born by 1980 and was probably white and therefore a raycyst slave owner. Jeff Bezos needs to ban this book along with the works of Dr Suess in order to show his wokeness

good book well read

(5 stars)

Chapter 5 tells you to stop and read an essay (so you can hear the author’s comments about it). This essay may be found as the second section of the Librivox Short Nonfiction Collection, Vol. 010

Great for anyone wanting to learn to enjoy reading.

(5 stars)


(5 stars)

Great narration, that honors Bennet's writing