Speaking of Books…

I think this might be like buses, I don’t see books about books very often and then three come along in quick succession, but which one to read? Last week I told you about ‘Stop What You’re Doing and Read This!’ and ‘The Library Book’ and then in the library I found another gem caught my eye, appropriately titled ‘Speaking of Books’.

I haven’t heard of the editors Rob Kaplan and Harold Rabinowitz before, but apparently they have another book like this called ‘A Passion for Books’ which may need seeking out. Initially I thought it was simply going to be lots of quotes about ‘the best things ever said about books and book collecting’ from many of the greats of reading, which is the actual premise. However it has been done in a wonderful way where the quotes come in forms of categories. We have ‘in praise of books’, ‘bibliomania’, ‘the enemies of books’ etc, etc each with their own introduction and discussions on how they can be applied to the avid reader and book lover.

The section entitled ‘what to read’ is the one I have had a chance to devour so far, because I was stuck on what to read, and what could be more helpful than quotes like…

‘A man ought to read just as inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good.’ Dr. Samuel Johnson

‘Choose an author as you choose a friend.’ Wentworth Dillon

‘Read the best books first, or you may not have the chance to read them at all.’ Henry David Thoreau

I have to admit I have no idea who those three people are, but what they say certainly makes sense. Winston Churchill himself seems to sum up the idea behind this very book (clearly he knew this book would be produced someday) when he says…

‘It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations… The quotations when engraved upon the memory can give you good thoughts. They also make you anxious to read the authors and look for more.’

Well who could argue with that?

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26 Comments

Filed under Books About Books

26 responses to “Speaking of Books…

  1. I am definitely going to add this to my wish list. What a great book. I shall be in my library demanding it.

    • Hoorah, I am all for people using the libraries as much as they can, I am hoping that I have several trips ahead of me to discover more about the people who have made these marvellous, and so like minded, quotes.

  2. a interesting sound book ,I just picked up Bloom’s western canon at weekend ,all the best stu

  3. Sounds fab! I bought A Passion for Books for Thomas/My Porch in the Persephone Secret Santa in 2010, but didn’t get much of a look myself.

    Oh, and Dr. Johnson is the dictionary guy – Robbie Coltrane in Blackadder 🙂

    • Oh you should have had a good nosey through it before you sent it to Thomas and reported back Simon, I am sure he would have understood.

      I have missed most of the Blackadders, I never quite got it, though I loved Miranda Richardson in it.

  4. I just wanted to leave an lol for your opener, “I think this might be like buses…”

  5. Pam

    Henry David Thoreau was an American author. He lived in the mid 1800’s and his most famous work is Walden. A book about living a simple life close to nature.

  6. Thanks for this Simon, I just love books about books. Loved stop what your doing and read this which I heard about via the vintage books podcast, Vintage very much being my fave imprint. Also loved ‘Howards End Is On The Landing’ from Susan Hill, This book started this years reading journey for me. Your taste in reading is quote like mine, anything and everything although I see you have not read E. M. Forster yet. Try Howards End, you’d love it.

    • A pleasure Paul, I have discussed magazines about books today so if you have any recommendations on those please do let me know!

      I have read E.M. Forster just not in the last five or six years I have been doing the blog. I read him for A-Level and sadly it killed his writing for me, it maybe decades before I bite the bullet and try him again.

      Interesting that you mention favourite publishers, I have been wondering about doing a post on something based around that on the blog… we will see.

      • Thats a real shame about E. M. Forster. I only got into him through Stephen Fry. Strange the journeys one embarks upon through reading one book. Yes please on the Publisher imprint blog, that really would be fantastic.

  7. A Passion for Books is one that is definitely worth your seeking out. It is as what its cover says : a book lover’s treasury of stories, essays, humor, lore, and lists on collecting, reading, borrowing, lending, caring for and appreciating books.
    Its contributors include writers such as Christopher Morley with his take on The Return of A Book Lent To A Friend; Walter Benjamin’s essay on Unpacking My Library; Umberto Eco’s How To Justify A Private Library and How to Organize A Public Library; Nicholas Basbanes giving us a peek into Samuel Pepys’s Library; and Clifton Fadiman’s New Lifetime Reading Plan, to name a few.
    It truly is a treasury for book lovers. 🙂

    • It sounds like a wonderful book Michelle. I think I will definitely see if any of the libraries around here have it and give it a whirl in the future. Thanks for telling me more about it.

  8. Just stumbled across your blog…I like.
    Samuel Johnson was the first to compile a complete dictionary of the English language, including every word know, its origin and proper usage. Took him decades to complete, and there is a very interesting book about a man in an insane asylum who contributed many of the words, called The Professor and the Madman.
    Wentworth Dillon was an English poet, who was also the first to write some of the “rules” of various styles of poetry.
    Henry David Thoreau made nature popular with his book Walden, in which he writes about a year spent in the country living as simply as possible. He was a love interest of Louisa May Alcott (who wrote Little Women) but she was frustrated in that love as he believed love shown was love diminished (he was also a transcendentalist.)

    • Awww thank you very much, I do like a stumbler who finds this blog randomly. Big thanks for explaining who some of the names are too!

    • The Professor and the Madman is an excellent book, but it focuses primarily on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), not Samuel Johnson’s dictionary (though it’s probably mentioned as the first known English dictionary, I believe Johnson worked primarily on his own).

  9. Kim

    a few days ago I finished ‘Stop What You’re Doing and Read This!’ and I adored it. some very inspiring and thought-provoking essays. thanks again for bringing it to my attention!

    I will, without a doubt, put this one on my wish-list. the name of Henry David Thoreau convinced me, even though I’ve only read loads of his quotes. should read a real book by him very soon. it’s always nice to put new books on the loooong list of books to-read. yay.

  10. I’ve added both Speaking of Books and A Passion for books to the TBR list…can’t pass up books about books, I’m afraid.

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