This book showcases recent work about reading and books in sociology and the humanities across the globe. From different standpoints and within the broad perspectives within the cultural sociology of reading, the eighteen chapters examine a range of reading practices, genres, types of texts, and reading spaces. They cover the Anglophone area of the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia; the transnational, multilingual space constituted by the readership of the Colombian novel One Hundred Years of Solitude; nineteenth-century Chile; twentieth-century Czech Republic; twentieth century Swahili readings in East Africa; contemporary Iran; and China during the cultural revolution and the post-Mao period. The chapters contribute to current debates about the valuation of literature and the role of cultural intermediaries; the iconic properties of textual objects and of the practice of reading itself; how reading supports personal, social and political reflection; bookstores as spaces for sociability and the interplay of high and commercial cultures; the political uses of reading for nation-building and propaganda, and the dangers and gratifications of reading under repression. In line with the cultural sociology of reading’s focus on meaning, materiality and emotion, this book explores the existential, ethical and political consequences of reading in specific locations and historical moments.
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