Your Well-Read Life is a result of Steve Leveen's quest to learn from others how they choose books, how and when they read, and ways they've found to remember more from their reading. He interviewed a variety of readers, librarians, editors, writers, businesspeople, among others, and read books about books, synthesizing their strategies in a guide that is itself a very quick read.
Some of the ideas will no doubt seem like common sense to avid readers, though it never hurts to be reminded of techniques that work (especially in a book that is categorized as self-help). Try additional books by authors you've enjoyed before. Look for books on topics that interest you. Keep a list of books that others have recommended and you think you might like. Consider listening to audio books while in the car. Read the author's bio to learn more about the author's perspective before reading the book.
Leveen is a proponent of writing in books--he calls himself a Footprint Leaver--but acknowledges that many readers take the opposing view--these are the Preservationists--and would never make a mark in their books. Or fold down the corners. Or break the spines. He lays out a few pros and cons for the approaches of both Footprint Leavers and Preservationists. Footprint Leavers can find suggested margin marks on the book's Web site (see How to Leave Masterly Marginalia).
Leveen sometimes adopts a motivational-speaker tone that is a little puzzling; readers in "book love" probably don't need to be convinced of the pleasures of reading. Along the same lines, the writing occasionally goes over the top, as in:
"When we are reading a really great book, burdens feel lighter, cares seem smaller, and commonplaces are suddenly delightful. You become your best optimistic self. Like romantic love, book love fills you with a certain warmth and completeness. The world holds promise. The atmosphere is clearer and brighter; a beckoning wind blows your hair."
Overall, though, Your Well-Read Life delivers several good ideas for how to get more out of your reading. It doesn't cover reading beyond books, nor could it and remain a short guide, but some tips can be applied to other media, such as newspapers, magazines, journals, and online text. The book itself is nicely produced and includes several old-fashioned line drawings by Glenn Wolff, and curious readers can follow ongoing discussions via Leveen's column at www.Levenger.com/wellreadlife.
Most valuable of all, the book doesn't advocate a well-read life but your well-read life. Find what you enjoy, what interests you, and don't worry if you never read War and Peace.