Large Image

The Shelf: From LEQ to LES: Adventures in Extreme Reading

by (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

(16 reviews)


Share This


Phyllis Rose embarks on a grand literary experiment -- to systematically read her way through a random shelf of books in the library, LEQ-LES, "fairly sure that no one in the history of the world has read exactly this series of novels." An original take on literary taste and habits by the acclaimed author of Parallel Lives.

Rose, after a career of reading from syllabuses and writing about canonical books, decided to read like an explorer. She "wanted to sample, more democratically, the actual ground of literature." Casting herself into the untracked wilderness of the New York Society Library's stacks, she chose a shelf of fiction almost at random and read her way through it.

What results is a spirited experiment in "Off-Road or Extreme Reading." Rose's shelf of roughly thirty books has everything she could wish for -- a remarkable variety of authors and a range of literary ambitions and styles. The early-nineteenth-century Russian classic A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov is spine by spine with The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Stories of French Canadian farmers sit beside tales about aristocratic Austrians. California detective novels about a novel from an Afrikaans writer who fascinates Rose to the extent that she ends up watching a YouTube video of his funeral.

A joyous testament to the thrill of engagement with books high and low, The Shelf leaves us with the feeling that there are treasures to be found on every library or bookstore shelf. Rose investigates her own discoveries with exuberance, candor, and while pondering the many questions her experiment raises and measuring her discoveries against her own inner shelf.

"Exhilarating, adventurous, original--Phyllis Rose's The Shelf is a reminder of what reading and writing are all about." -- Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran

Tag This Book

This Book Has Been Tagged
It hasn't. Be the first to tag this book!

Our Recommendation

Track It. This book has been £4.88 within the past year.

Notify Me When The Price...

  • £
  • If I'm already tracking this book...

to track this book on eReaderIQ.

Track These Authors

to track Phyllis Rose on eReaderIQ.

  • to be notified each time the price drops on any book by Phyllis Rose.
  • to stop tracking Phyllis Rose.

Price Summary

  • We started tracking this book on July 18, 2014.
  • This book was £9.49 when we started tracking it.
  • The price of this book has changed 326 times in the past 3,121 days.
  • The current price of this book is £6.89 last checked one day ago.
  • This lowest price this book has been offered at in the past 90 days is £5.99.
  • This lowest price this book has been offered at in the past six months is £5.79.
  • This lowest price this book has been offered at in the past year is £4.88.
  • The lowest price to date was £1.82 last reached on November 11, 2019.
  • This book has been £1.82 one time since we started tracking it.
  • The highest price to date was £17.09 last reached on February 18, 2015.
  • This book has been £17.09 one time since we started tracking it.


Additional Info

  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Lending: Disabled
  • Print Length: 285 Pages
  • File Size: 1,764 KB

We last verified the price of this book about one day ago. At that time, the price was £6.89. This price is subject to change. The price displayed on the website at the time of purchase is the price you will pay for this book. Please confirm the price before making any purchases.