“A lively survey…her research and insights make us conscious of how we, today, use books.”—John Sutherland, The New York Times Book Review
Two centuries before the advent of radio, television, and motion pictures, books were a cherished form of popular entertainment and an integral component of domestic social life. In this fascinating and vivid history, Abigail Williams explores the ways in which shared reading shaped the lives and literary culture of the eighteenth century, offering new perspectives on how books have been used by their readers, and the part they have played in middle-class homes and families.
Drawing on marginalia, letters and diaries, library catalogues, elocution manuals, subscription lists, and more, Williams offers fresh and fascinating insights into reading, performance, and the history of middle-class home life.
“Williams’s charming pageant of anecdotes…conjures a world strikingly different from our own but surprisingly similar in many ways, a time when reading was on the rise and whole worlds sprang up around it.”—TheWashington Post