The first day back to work after a two-week vacation is never easy but it went by pretty fast. I am training in a new evening circulation assistant, so the day was go from the start. And it was nice to see my coworkers too and hear about their holidays. But it is still Monday so it is nice to have a good book to talk about.

I’ve had Classics for Pleasure by Michael Dirda on my nightstand for about a year and a half. It consists of 2-3 pages essays on classics. It is a great book to have handy when you want to read something comforting before bed but nothing too long or involving. It is also great if you want to add books to your TBR list.

Dirda obviously loves the books he writes about and he clearly wants you to love them too. There is a certain excitement and exuberance to his casual essays. It’s like you ran into him at Starbuck’s or something and he has to tell you about this great book he just read and by the time he’s done telling you about it you want to read it too. Right now.

In most of the essays he tells a little about the author, some sort of gossipy or quirky thing usually. He might mention a couple other books the author has written that are good too but this particular book is the one you want to read first. And then he tells you why you want to read it. He’ll outline the plot and maybe talk about the book’s style or why it is a classic. And he is so light and breezy about it that you think, wow this Lucian guy sounds like a hoot and suddenly The True History, a book you have never heard of before, is one you really want to read. Dirda even manages to make H.W. Fowler’s A Dictionary of Modern English Usage sound good (the early editions not the recent ones).

If you are looking for an enjoyable method of learning about some classics you might want to read, or just want something bookish and fun to peruse at odd moments, Dirda is your guy.