The Library of Columbus’ Son, Ferdinand

Fernando Columbus portrait

Christopher Columbus’ second son was a huge bibliophile. Who knew?

The interesting details, according to Wikipedia.

Courtesy fellow local booklover Franklin Abbott

“How Long Will It Take to Read This Book?”

So Many Books So Little Time

In a recent blogpost, bookish blogger Alexander Atkins mentions a heretofore unknown-to-me genuine Internet Wonder, a website developed by Idaho-based Bridger Putnam that will tell you, based on your reading speed, how many hours it will take for you to finish reading any given book.

I just plugged into the website the title of the book my book club just finished reading this week and found the results to be quite plausible.

Given the difficult – and important – choices book clubs are constantly forced to make, and the numerous factors that sometimes go into choosing one book over other candidates, this tool could come in mighty handy at times in resolving some of those choices.

And for any reader, even those not participating in (or even allergic to) book clubs, this tool is also a sobering reminder of ye olde adage “So Many Books, So Little Time.”

Found at Atkins’s Bookshelf blog

Bookish Quotations du Jour

World in books graphic

Four memorable passages from recent (and not-so-recent) Facebook postings or bookish blogposts:

“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort or quiet or excite you.” – Anne Lamott

Found at the Facebook page of The Goodwill Librarian (December 13, 2017)

“Most of what makes a book ‘good’ is that we are reading it at the right moment.” – Alain de Botton

Found at the Bookaholics Facebook page (January 8, 2020)

“A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life raft, and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind, hospitals of the soul, them parks of the imagination. On a cold, rainy island, they are the only sheltered public places where you are not a consumer, but a citizen instead.” – Caitlan Moran

Found at the Facebook page of Bookish Buzz (August 9, 2019)

“The serious reader expands his circle of acquaintances, but is not unhappy with his friends. He expands his knowledge of place, but is not dissatisfied with home. He expands his awareness of self, but is not confused about his identity, his responsibilities, or his beliefs. He believes that other media overemphasize the modern, undervalue the traditional, and barely acknowledge the timeless… And the serious reader defines knowledge in his own way. [To borrow from John Henry Newman’s The Idea of a University,] knowledge is something the reader prizes for its own sake, as he would an object that is purely beautiful or a person whose standards are not subject to fluctuation by whim. The reader finds a piquancy to knowledge as it settles into the mind that is comparable to the last of a delicate food as it slowly melts onto the palate — a hedonistic view of learning to be sure, lush and impractical, but one he shares with countless other men and women over the centuries who, of impractical bent themselves, were nonetheless capable of great worldly achievement.” – Eric Burns, The Joy of Books: Confessions of a Lifelong Reader

Found at Bookshelf, a blog written by Alexander Atkins

Reading in the Digital Age, or: The Death of the Book, Revisited

Dan Chiasson, in The New Yorker’s September 2, 2019 issue, reviews the new book What We Talk About When We Talk About Books: The History and Future of Reading by Leah Price. As with most New Yorker book reviews, Chiasson’s essay addresses a range of related issues, and wittily so.  (The wit begins with the essay’s title: “Reader, I Googled It.”)

Read Chiasson’s delightful, insightful (and, for habitual book readers, reassuring) essay.

Ordering information about Leah Price’s book – as well as excerpts from another ten reviews – is here.


Dept. of “Readers Live Many Lives”

stack of open books

“Accumulating circulations around the sun doesn’t make you wise. Experience and reflection does. Nothing can beat the real thing, but what is Literature, if not experience and reflection, set down in language?”

Thus writes Alice Whaley, a (merely) 21-year old writer – and reader – in a short, charming essay published earlier this month in the Britain-based periodical The Oldie.

Whaley’s reflections reminded me of what S.I. Hiyakawa wrote about the difference between readers and non-readers:

“It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.”

Read the rest of Whaley’s essay here.

Found via Patrick Kurp’s blog Anecdotal Evidence