Like most avid readers I’m sure, I like to visit the homes of famous authors. But as April Bernard asks in this piece titled “Here’s What I Hate About Writer’s Houses" from the New York Review of Books, just what are we looking for?
“Here’s what I hate about Writers’ Houses: the basic mistakes. That art can be understood by examining the chewed pencils of the writer. That visiting such a house can substitute for reading the work. That real estate, including our own envious attachments to houses that are better, or cuter, or more inspiring than our own, is a worthy preoccupation. That writers can or should be sanctified. That private life, even of the dead, is ours to plunder.”
However, for those who wish to continue their visits to their favorite writers’ homes, Bernard recommends the website, writershouses.com. One of my favorite visits has been to Mark Twain’s boyhood home in Hannibal, Missouri.
If you really want to get close to a former writer’s home, consider buying Truman Capote’s townhome in Brooklyn Heights. It’s been on the market for well over a year.
The Library of America
I love the Library of America and their wonderful editions of American liiterature. The quality of every volume is of the best quality. I never knew some of the details until I visited the publisher’s website. Some interesting facts from their notes on the production and design:
“Though each volume contains from 700 to as many as 1600 pages, all are compact and trim, measuring less than two inches thick.”
“The paper is acid-free and meets the requirements for permanence set by the American National Standards Institute; it will not turn yellow or brittle. The books are bound with the grain of the paper to ensure that they open easily and lie flat without crinkling or buckling.
“The typeface, Galliard, is exceptionally readable and easy on the eyes.”
“The books are Smyth-sewn for permanence and flexibility, and each includes a ribbon marker.”
“Each volume is attractively jacketed or slipcased and measures 4 7/8” x 7 7/8”. This trim size is based on the “golden section,” which the ancient Greeks considered to be the ideal proportion.”
In 2007, the Library of America made the following video to commemorate its 25th anniversary:
A Bookshelf of the World
Harvard University is establishing its own digital library of the world, and it will rival the work that Google is doing. From the Boston Globe:
“Who will control knowledge in the future?
“So far, the most likely answer to that question has been a private company: Google. Since 2004 Google Books has been scanning books and putting them online; the company says it has already scanned more than 15 million. Google estimates there are about 130 million books in the world, and by 2020, it plans to have scanned them all.
“Now, however, a competitor may be emerging. Last year, Robert Darnton, a cultural historian and director of Harvard University’s library system, began to raise the prospect of creating a public digital library. This library would include the digitized collections of the country’s great research institutions, but it would also bring in other media - video, music, film - as well as the collection of Web pages maintained by the Internet Archive.”