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Reading and books

         See also:
• –» Niniveh library
• –» C.S. Lewis
• –» Mortimer Adler
• –» M. Adler’s speech
• –» Crisis in Education


“T’is the good reader that makes the good book;
a good head cannot read amiss: in every book he finds passages which seem confidences or asides hidden from all else and unmistakably meant for
his ear.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Cover your bookcases with rugs and linens of fine quality; preserve them from dampness and mice and injury; for it is your books that are your true treasure.”
Ibn Tibbon 1120-1190?
Spanish Jewish Scholar

Am I one of a dying breed? I don’t just love reading, I love books simply as objects.

I like the smell of new pages and just love that special smell of the pages in an old book. I’ve always kind of liked old books; not necessarily classics, since they are continually reprinted, but old forgotten books. C.S. Lewis once said something to the effect that we should read old books because they give us a different perspective on life and the world. True, old books have errors and prejudices, but, as Lewis said, the biases of another age are much easier for us to spot, so we are not in great danger of being taken in by them. But it is hard not to be taken in by the prejudices our own age unless we have another perspective; the kind of perspective that old books provide.

I also have a preference for different kinds of typeface, I am enthralled by the promise held in beautifully illustrated covers. I remember my father always reading in the evening. He took me as a young child every saturday afternoon to the library an we spent hours there, nosing through all the books and I grew up loving to read. One of my most vivid childhood memories is the day I learned how to read and I read my first words. I remember counting the minutes in third grade until I could rush home to finish a book. So as a child, I had my head eternally in a book, or a magazine, and I have not changed.

A good book will get devoured in an evening, I’m captivated by language, its power and the range of expression we have. And I can get lost in the vivid imagination of another person, more easily than I can in my own!

Reading lays the foundation for a love of learning, for pushing the mind to question beyond the printed page. Reading sharpens listening and conversation skills, sparks the imagination, and expands a child’s knowledge of the world around him. Chat about a book and you’ll help him practice using words correctly. Pick up a book about the rain forest, King Arthur’s round table, or the Mayan Indians and you’ll ignite an interest in people, places, and ideas outside of daily life.

I have approximately 2000 books – All subjects, some secondhand, some given to me and some I forgot to give back. It’s great because there’s always something different to read. The ones I like the best are non-fiction ones on obscure subjects that I’d never considered before, the travel books and the classics that are always there to be re-read.

I love to visit old libraries and archives and to be surrounded by books that frequently take my breath away. Beautiful, elaborate spines and plates, huge volumes filled with exquisite watercolors of exotic plants and birds, 12th and 13th century illuminated manuscripts with fabulously detail illustrations colored with the rarest lapis lazuli and stunning gold leaf.

If you could take only ten books to a deserted island on which you were to be marooned for the rest of your life, what would they be?
As Mortimer Adler says, this is no game; we are all in precisely that position. We are simply unable to read all the books there are; therefore, we had better choose well. Some books exercise our minds by their rigor and move our spirits by their beauty with every reading, some books help us communicate with our culture because they have been a common element in education for centuries, some books aid our understanding of the physical world by a clear exposition of careful observations by powerful minds, but only a very few books do any of these things well.

So, yes, I love books – as for reading, I’ve four books sitting on my bedside cabinet waiting to be read an I love lying in my big cozy bed with a good book to keep me company until my lovely wife Hélène joins me or I fall asleep.

I have approximately 2000 books – All subjects, some secondhand, some given to me and some I forgot to give back. It’s great because there’s always something different to read. The ones I like the best are non-fiction ones on obscure subjects that I’d never considered before, the travel books and the classics that are always there to be re-read. 

I love to visit old libraries and archives and to be surrounded by books that frequently take my breath away. Beautiful, elaborate spines and plates, huge volumes filled with exquisite watercolors of exotic plants and birds, 12th and 13th century illuminated manuscripts with fabulously detail illustrations colored with the rarest lapis lazuli and stunning gold leaf. If you could take only ten books to a deserted island on which you were to be marooned for the rest of your life, what would they be?

As Mortimer Adler says, this is no game;
we are all in precisely that position.

We are simply unable to read all the books there are; therefore, we had better choose well. Some books exercise our minds by their rigor and move our spirits by their beauty with every reading, some books help us communicate with our culture because they have been a common element in education for centuries, some books aid our understanding of the physical world by a clear exposition of careful observations by powerful minds, but only a very few books do any of these things well.

So, yes, I love books – as for reading, I’ve four books sitting on my bedside cabinet waiting to be read an I love lying in my big cozy bed with a good book to keep me company until my lovely wife Hélène joins me or I fall asleep.

Here are a few books I have just finished
or that I am reading now:

  • The Storm of War, Andrew Roberts
  • The Canal Builders, Julie Green
  • Shakespeare, Bil Bryson
  • Lourdes, Ruth Harris
  • Boreal ties, Kim Fairley Gilles & Silas Hibbard Ayer III
  • The Island at the Centre of the World, Russel Shorto
  • Himalaya, Michael Palin
  • Sixty million Frenchmen can’t be wrong, Jean Benoît Nadeau & Julie Barlow
  • The Zanzibar chest, Adrian Heartly
  • In the name of Rome, Adrian Goldsworthy
  • Sowing the Wind, The mismanagement of the Middle East, 1900-1960, John Keay
  • The Fabric of the Cosmos, Space, Time and the Texture of Reality, Brian Greene
  • Brunelleschi’s Dome, how a Renaissance genius reinvented Architecture, Ross King
  • The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici, Cristopher Hibbert
  • In search of Moby Dick, the quest for the white wale, Tim Severin
  • No Peace no Honor, Nixon, Kissinger and betrayal in Vietnam, Larry Berman
  • Salt, a World History, Mark Kurlansky
  • John Adams, David McCullough
  • The age of Gladiators, Savagery & Spectacle in Ancient Rome, Rupert Matthews
  • The Yellow Cross, René Weis
  • Batavia’s Graveyard, Mike Dash

“A library doesn’t need windows. A library is a window.”
Stewart Brand, How Buildings Learn (1994), p. 33.


Source: picture book collage, Wikipedia: file(s) are :User:David Monniaux, flickr user 007 Tanuki, User:Jorge Ryan, and User:ZX95 
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.