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conserve old ones and the sometimes dirty and dangerous world of antiquarian book selling; it details the practice of historical document forgery; the provenance, over centuries, of one particular book that concerns whether Shakespeare did or didn’t (write his own plays); there is one murder and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 Learning to forge historical documents?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!

 

Classics Club Spin #11

classicsclub

My first Classics Club Spin! This will help me as I organize my reading for the next few months, and I need that, because, oh my, I get distracted with all that’s out there and not on my 5 year list!

The deal: Choose twenty books from your aforementioned list, number them 1-20 and put them in categories of your (or their) own choosing (optional). On Monday, December 7th, they will choose a number and that is the one you must read by February 1, 2016.

If you are not familiar with the Classics Club and you want to be, go HERE!

Five I can’t wait to read:

1. Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818)
2. Betty A. Smith, Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943)
3. Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights (1847)
4. Willa Cather, O Pioneers! (1913)
5. Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1719)

Five whose authors I know, but don’t know this work:

6. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1899)
7. Wilkie Collins, Woman in White (1859)
8. William Dean Howells, The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885)
9. Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
10. Benjamin Disraeli, Coninigsby (1844)

Five I am embarrassed to realize I never read:

11. Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind (1936)
12. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852)
13. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925)
14. Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca (1938)
15. Virginia Woolf, The Years (1937)

Five I am dreading or feel obligated to read:

16. Charles Kingsley, Hypatia or New Foes with an Old Face (1853)
17. Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1855)
18. Herman Melville, Moby Dick (1851)
19. H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds (1898)
20. Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe (1820)

Old Books….

I’ll let you define “old book” for yourself. For me, it is anything before the 1950s.

I am not sure why I am drawn to old books, although I do have a historical sensibility about things in general. When I am interested in something I go back to the source, the foundation, the original. I am often surprised by its relevance. The New Age, the Modern Age is really the Old Age gussied up with contemporary lingo and sometimes we don’t even know the idea is not new.

I read classic literature almost like primary source documents. I am pulled into its time and sensibility, the social and political atmosphere, its cultural context, even its gastronomic display. I’ve been reading like this since I can remember. My surroundings fade and I fall through the rabbit hole of the past.

I am not an obsessive-compulsive reader. And while I often have more than one book going at a time, I don’t hurry the process. I think about what I am reading. Books affect me and I am often in a state of that affectedness. I love when that happens; when a writer, living or dead, has caused me to pause, to feel, to learn. I am grateful to have been so changed.