A Short Analysis of Philip Larkin’s ‘A Study of Reading Habits’

A cracking read

Interesting Literature

A summary of a Larkin poem about books

Written in August 1960 and published in Larkin’s 1964 volume The Whitsun Weddings, ‘A Study of Reading Habits’ touches upon one of Philip Larkin’s favourite themes in a more explicitly humorous way than many of his most famous poems, and is great fun to analyse. You can read ‘A Study of Reading Habits’ here.

In summary, Larkin’s speaker tells us that reading books used to provide escapism for him: first at school, where reading provided consolation from bullies by letting him live out his fantasies of vanquishing the school bully; then, as a young man, reading provided an outlet for living out all of his sexual fantasies, and he could imagine being the dashing heroes of the novels he read, who ‘clubbed’ women with sex.

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