The Bookman’s Tale, Charlie Lovett (2013)

My Edition:Bookmanstale.jpeg
Title: The Bookman’s Tale
Author: Charlie Lovett
Publisher: Penguin Books
Device: Paper book
Year: 2013
Pages: 369
For a plot summary

 

When I read a book I want to be affected in some way, to think differently, maybe to investigate a part of the story that captivated me. At the very least, I want something to have shifted.

Charlie Lovett’s The Bookman’s Tale, satisfied all of the above, with intriguing subject matter and his ability to tell a grand, complicated story.

This is a book about books and those who care about and conserve old ones and the sometimes dirty and dangerous world of antiquarian book selling; it details the practice of historical document forgery; the provenance, over centuries, of one particular book that concerns whether Shakespeare did or didn’t (write his own plays); there is one murder and almost three; two love stories and the beginning of another; there is a centuries old family feud; and a main character with social anxiety disorder, who creates a fruitful life anyway. Throw in intrigue, blackmail and people dying before their time, this is a book I could not put down.

How did this book affect my world? Where do I start? With the pros and cons of the legitimacy of Shakespeare as the writer of his plays? Learning to forge historical documents? Or perhaps a trip to an antiquarian bookshop in hopes of finding a mysterious picture stuck inside a book? (Although, that did happen to me, sort of) And what about rare book conservation and restoration? Should I learn how to do it? What a noble vocation!

The idea of provenance strikes me as well: imagine coming across a centuries old book with a list of the owners marked inside the cover, who just happen to be well-known historical figures?

This is the kind of book I didn’t want to end and rationed pages to slow down the inevitable…What a way to spend the weekend!

 

Who Left the Sun Inside this Book?

Have you ever found something extraordinary or intriguing tucked inside the pages of a book?

I have found grocery lists for elaborate meals and medical appointment cards forgotten as bookmarks in the public library. In the university library I have come across notes taken for classes or lists of books for term papers, which always brings a familiar pain; all that time and research for nothing.

Once I found a tirade detailing the transgressions the letter writer felt someone committed against her. After reading a few embarrassing lines I stuck it back in the book. Yikes!

My greatest find was also a picture stuck between the pages of a book I picked up in a university library:

Sun.jpeg

Incredible detail and technique! But what was the inspiration? Boredom? Soothing nerves before a midterm? Or just the desire to create? The medium is black ink on a napkin: restaurant, coffee house, bar? And why was it left? Using the napkin as a place-holder while studying and forgetting about it? Or, shoved inside and left on purpose? A frustrating mystery.

But here is the bigger mystery: This is my symbol. I have been collecting, imagining, wearing and enjoying sun and moon images for decades.

Sometimes I like them together:

sun2.jpeg

Sun3.jpeg

And sometimes I like them alone:

Sun4.jpeg

This crescent I wear almost every day:

moon.jpeg

I consider myself mostly a moon person, as I love the night and darkness. When the crescent moon appears each month it is a joy to see and acknowledge. The crescent is an expectant symbol of newness, promise and hope.

I found the napkin in 2002 and have moved house several times, each time making sure to take it with me. All this time it has had a prominent place on my altar:

Altar.jpeg

O Unknown Artist…I thank you!

What have you found stuck in a book?