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by Philip Davis

READING FOR LIFE by Philip Davis

320 Pages | 11 Illustrations

Presents leading research into the processes of reading by a variety of research methods, from brain-imaging through to transcript analysis of reading group session

Features detailed interviews with a wide range of readers, from professionals to those who are severely under-privileged and inexperienced, offering detailed readings of the texts alongside in-depth understanding of the people reading them

Questions what literature can and cannot do in the service of mental health and wellbeing

Reading for Life is an anthology of poems and of extracts from prose fiction, related to a series of case-histories of individuals carefully reading, discussing their reading lives, and thinking about the relation of literature to their existence. It enables readers to gain increased imaginative access to the works in question through seeing how they have intensely affected equivalent readers—a novelist, a poet, a doctor, a teacher, an anthologist, but also non-specialists, ordinary people within shared reading groups in many different settings, finding help from literary texts in times of often painful personal need. It is the story of the work done by Philip Davis' research unit, the Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society (CRILS), at the University of Liverpool, in a ten-year partnership with the outreach charity The Reader, taking serious literature to often neglected communities and struggling individuals through the shared reading—alive and aloud—of literature from all ages.

Reading for Life is a detailed account of what reading literature can do for a wide variety of individuals in relation to a wide variety of texts: it will be of interest to serious readers in the wider world as much as to scholars working within literary studies, and to all those involved in thinking about the therapeutic interactions of literature and life in psychology, medicine, and mental health support settings.

"Powerful and urgent, Reading for Life by Philip Davis shows how poetry and fiction can make a difference." - Marina Warner, President of the Royal Society of Literature

Philip Davis, Emeritus Professor of English Literature, formerly Director of CRILS (Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society), University of Liverpool

Philip Davis is Emeritus Professor of English Literature at the University of Liverpool. Reading for Life is an account of the work done by his research unit, the Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society (CRILS) in partnership with outreach charity The Reader since 2008. He is author of works on Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson, George Eliot, Bernard Malamud, and on the uses of memory from Wordsworth to Lawrence, and has written various books on literary reading. He is editor of OUP's series The Literary Agenda on the role of literature in the world of the twenty-first century and a new series entitled My Reading.