It was one of the best birthday presents I have ever got – and there are no prizes to guess what it was. A book, and not only a book, it was a book about readers and book-lovers – a steadily dimnishing tribe, I feel. And of course, who else could have presented it, who is so discerning, so considerate, so generous, so … well in short, it could only be me.
Well, anyway, the book is called “Buried in Books: A Reader’s Anthology”.
Complied by Julie Rugg. it is her a second anthology of literary extracts, quotations and bon mots concerning every aspect of bookish behaviour: reading, buying. borrowing, recommending, hunting, even defacing. This anthology includes diaries, memoirs, novels, plays and letters by authors from Samuel Pepys to Iain Sinclair, from Robert Louis Stevenson to Nick Hornby, from Laurence Sterne to Lucy Mangan. In short, a perfect gift for the book obsessive in your life, as it proudly proclaims.
And what could be more apt than to share a small glimpse from this book with you…. a quotation each from the 13 or so sections the book is divided in. So without any further ado, lets start from the first section titled…
Degrees of bibliomania
“The love of books is a charming eccentricity: it is respectable, it is innocent, it proves you have a honest soul, a contented mind.”
Jules Janin, quoted by E.V. Lucas, in “The guide supreme” (1936)
‘Rapt clean of ourselves’
“In anything fit to be called by the name of reading, the process itself should be absorbing and voluptuous; we should gloat over a book; be rapt clean of ourselves, and rise from the perusal, our mind filled with the busiest, kaleidiscope dance of images, incapable of sleep or continuous thought.”
Robert Louis Stevenson, in “A gossip on romance” (1882)
‘Sometime, profound epiphanies’
“I think, consciously or not, what we readers do each time we open a book is to set off on a search for authenticity. We want to get closer to the heart of things, and sometimes even a few good sentences contained in an otherwise unexceptional book can crystallise vague feelings, fleeting physical sensations, or sometimes, profound epiphanies.”
Maureen Corrigan, “Leave Me Alone: I’m Reading” (2005)
‘Treat Personal Book Recommendations With The Suspicion They Deserve’
I admit a liking for novels where something happens.
Theodore Roosevelt, “A Book-Lover’s Holiday in the Open, (1916) (Now I know why I like TR)
‘The pleasant thing is…”
“I almost always read a good deal in the evening; and if the rest of the evening is occupied I can atleast get half an hour before going to bed. But all kinds of odd moments turn up during a busy day, in which it is possible to enjoy a book; and there are rainy afternoons in the country in autumn, and stormy days in winter, when one’s work outdoors is finished and after wet clothes have been changed for dry, the rocking chair in front of the open wood-fire simply demands an accompanying book.”
Theodore Roosevelt, “A Book-Lover’s Holiday in the Open, (1916) (Now I know why I idolise TR)
‘The Good Practice of Buying a Book a Day’
The most discouraging feature of the mania for book-collecting is, that it grows by what it feeds on, and becomes the more insatiable the more it is gratified.
William Mathews, “Hours with Men and Books” (1877)
‘Muddling Among Old Books’
“I wrote, read and walked with the most stoical regularity. The muddling among old books has the quality of a sedative and saves the tear and wear of an overwrought brain.”
Walter Scott, diary entry, 29 March 1829
“He Spoils Every Decent Book On Which He Lays His hands’
“When they stand on our shelves, books seem static, unchanging intert things. We have only to open them to realise that they have their own lives, even if it is merely as mirrors of ourselves.”
Oliver Edwards, “Repeat Performance” (1957)
To be continued….