Reading Through the Night

Jane Parry Tompkins '61

Struck by a debilitating illness, Jane Parry Tompkins '61 finds herself reading day and night because it is all she can do. The books she reads—including works by Alain de Botton, Elena Ferrante, Henning Mankell, Ann Patchett, Paul Theroux, and Anthony Trollope—launch her on a path of introspection that stretches back to the first weeks of her life and forward to her relationship with her mother and her present marriage. As she reads, she comes to the realization that literature can be not only a source of information and entertainment, not only a balm and a refuge, but also a key to unlocking long-forgotten memories that lead to a new understanding of one’s own life. (University of Virginia Press, 2018)

Reading Through the Night is a "surprising, ambitious memoir that raises important questions about what it is that we are doing when we read." —Nancy K. Miller, the Graduate Center, CUNY, author of Breathless: An American Girl in Paris.

Jane Tompkins is a teacher and scholar known for her work on popular women’s novels of the American 19th century. Her book on Western novels and films, West of Everything, won a prize from the American Popular Culture Association, and her memoir of teaching and learning, A Life in School, received an award from the Association of American Colleges and Universities.