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Bookstores can be found in out-of-the-way places to be sure.

Books off the Beaten Path

Bookstores can be found in out-of-the-way places to be sure.

Posted by Joel on May 26 2008 • Books

1001 to Read

I think everybody loves a good list: a collection that has been chosen with great care to help you sift through the clutter. Readers are no different. The New York Times reviews a book called “1001 Books to Read Before You Die.” I haven’t looked, but it would be good to know if I have read any on the list. ("No matter how well read you are, you’re not that well read,” writes reporter William Grimes. “If you don’t believe it, pick up “1001” and start counting.")

The Times: “The book is British. Of course. The British love literary lists and the fights they provoke, so much so that they divide candidates for the Man Booker Prize into shortlist books and longlist books. In this instance Peter Boxall, who teaches English at Sussex University, asked 105 critics, editors and academics — mostly obscure — to submit lists of great novels, from which he assembled his supposedly mandatory reading list of one thousand and one. Quintessence, the British publishers, later decided that “books” worked better than “novels” in the title.”

I’m sure the books cited will spark a debate (the fact that more than half of the books were written after World War II already has the Times’ reviewer ruffled).

Posted by Joel on May 26 2008 • Books

A Library at Night

I’ve just started a book that I have to recommend to other book-lovers. It’s A Library at Night, written by Alberto Manguel. Here’s the synopsis from the publisher: “Inspired by the process of creating a library for his fifteenth-century home near the Loire, in France, Alberto Manguel, the acclaimed writer on books and reading, has taken up the subject of libraries. “Libraries,” he says, “have always seemed to me pleasantly mad places, and for as long as I can remember I’ve been seduced by their labyrinthine logic.” In this personal, deliberately unsystematic, and wide-ranging book, he offers a captivating meditation on the meaning of libraries.

“Manguel, a guide of irrepressible enthusiasm, conducts a unique library tour that extends from his childhood bookshelves to the “complete” libraries of the Internet, from Ancient Egypt and Greece to the Arab world, from China and Rome to Google. He ponders the doomed library of Alexandria as well as the personal libraries of Charles Dickens, Jorge Luis Borges, and others. He recounts stories of people who have struggled against tyranny to preserve freedom of thought—the Polish librarian who smuggled books to safety as the Nazis began their destruction of Jewish libraries; the Afghani bookseller who kept his store open through decades of unrest. Oral “memory libraries” kept alive by prisoners, libraries of banned books, the imaginary library of Count Dracula, the library of books never written—Manguel illuminates the mysteries of libraries as no other writer could. With scores of wonderful images throughout, The Library at Night is a fascinating voyage through Manguel’s mind, memory, and vast knowledge of books and civilizations.”

If you want a taste, you can read Manguel’s essay in this recent issue of the New York Times.

Posted by Joel on May 18 2008 • Books

Journalism's Long Tail

Chris Anderson, author of the wonderful book, The Long Tail, speaks with British journalism conference attendees about how technology and market forces are fundamentally reshaping journalism as we know it. In the future, will we have the same funding for reporting that a democracy demands? How many jobs will the industry shed? Read (and listen) to what he has to say here.

Posted by Joel on May 08 2008 • Journalism