Nothing is more disconcerting, it seems to me, than to enter a home or an apartment in which there are no books and no place for books, no sign that a book has ever been there. It always seems like a kind of desecration to me, even though I am perfectly aware that bookless people can also be saved, even that they often have much practical wisdom, something Aristotle himself recognized. I know that there are libraries from which we can borrow for a time a book we may not own. We are blessed to live in a time of relatively cheap books. Ultimately, no doubt, the important thing is what is in our head, not what is on a printed page on our shelves, even when they contain our own books. Nor do we have to replicate the New York City Public Library in our own homes. Still, most of us would benefit from having at least a couple hundred books, probably more, surrounding us. I am sure that by judicious use of sales and used-book and online stores, anyone can gather together a very respectable basic library, probably for less than a thousand dollars. With a little enterprise, one can find in a used bookstore or online the Basic Works of Aristotle or the Lives of Plutarch for less than twenty dollars. When stretched out over time and compared, say, to the cumulative price of supplies for a heavy smoker, or a week’s stay in Paris or Tokyo, or a season ticket to one’s favorite NFL team, the cost of books is not too bad. My point is merely that whether or not we have good books around us is not so much a question of cost as it is a question of what we do with our available money, with how we judge the comparative worth of things. Fr. James V. Schall ☀
Rick Perlstein: By the Book ☀
- NYT: If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?
- Rick Perlstein: The Book of Job, maybe. It’s the best story I know at driving home the fact that the world just isn’t always a reasonable place. Not grasping that, I think, is Barack Obama’s tragic flaw: He still seems to stubbornly believe that if he just explains clearly and calmly enough to his friends across the aisle why his ideas will bring the greatest good to the greatest number, there’ll finally be no more Red America and no more Blue America. But my 18 years studying conservatism has convinced me the right just doesn’t work that way — they’re fighting for civilization stakes, and he’s a liberal, so, Q.E.D., he’s the enemy. His longing to compromise with them just ends up driving the political center in America further to the right.
Murakami’s characters usually operate as ciphers, and Tsukuru is no exception. It’s rare to finish one of Murakami’s books feeling a strong identification with his characters, and it’s the mood his stories provoke, more than the people in them, that tends to stay with you long after you’ve finished his books. In Murakami’s hands this is usually a powerful approach. His spare style, it’s said, translates easily between Japanese and English and his themes also travel well. 'Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage' is straightfoward and un-Murakami-like ☀
This is a book for both the new and experienced reader. It has a strange casualness, as if it unfolded as Murakami wrote it; at times, it seems like a prequel to a whole other narrative. The feel is uneven, the dialogue somewhat stilted, either by design or flawed in translation. Yet there are moments of epiphany gracefully expressed, especially in regard to how people affect one another. Deep Chords: Haruki Murakami’s ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage’ ☀
…we face a revolution in reading not unlike the one Gutenberg introduced almost 700 years ago. Nowadays authors are coached on “building your brand” more than on improving their writing. Publishers care more about website stats and Twitter followers than the quality of an author’s work. Farewell to the Golden Age ☀
Bookstores almost always fail not because of e-books, but because of rent increases. This is true of a lot of interesting, marginal businesses, especially in cities with housing bubbles (and Victoria is not cheap.) Prices go out of line with income, rents follow, and interesting stores which need low rent die. So you wind up with a whole bunch of chain stores or boutiques operations selling overpriced goods and services who can make the rent. Why Bookstores live or die ☀
I memorised Tennyson, and read Homer in prose and Dante in verse; I shed half my childhood tears at The Mill on the Floss. I slept with Sherlock Holmes beside my pillow, and lay behind the sofa reading Roget. It was as though publication a century before made a book suitable – never was I told I ought not to read this or that until I was older. To my teacher’s horror my father gave me Tess of the D’Urbervilles when I was still at primary school, and I was simply left to wander from Thornfield to Agincourt to the tent of sulking Achilles, making my own way. Reading lessons of a religious upbringing without modern books (via ayjay) ☀
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