More specifically concerning: books
18 March 2001, around 14.52.
More laundry and packing and reading of A Concise History of Greece. Tidying things up in general, as a means of distracting myself from Roman history and the minutiae of Greek grammar. Also looking wistfully at the three library books I must return tomorrow; I’ve had them for six weeks, but have scarce made a […]
9 August 2001, around 14.47.
To be more joyful, and border less on abject self-pity, I have taken to pillaging the shelves in my former room (now the library – which is apt) for books to take away; I fear my parents shall be left with hardly any modern literature at all. They merely smile at me, though, as I […]
29 August 2001, around 14.41.
The first day alone; on my own. Faded grandeur of a forgotten self. Searching for lost books. Remembering old friends, neglected, of course, as they too often are. Baking scones, making tea. Existence in fragments. One cannot expect more. Even so. Just a note: I realized what it was, that most important thing that I’d […]
5.11.01 – Monday
5 November 2001, around 15.55.
I have come to the inevitable conclusion. Running into the eternal interrogative (thinking Forsterian here, can you tell?): the answer can, the answer must, for me at least, be yes. Not the ‘yes’ that means ‘no,’ not the affirmative that scorns, but that quiet ever so blank ‘yes’ which means everything & nothing, offers no […]
14.01.02 – Monday
14 January 2002, around 17.19.
Returned some few books to the library, thank heavens, and read a few articles I’d meant to peruse in November. Still feel vastly, horribly behind – only the cruelty of my own ambition forces me on (which can be a good or a bad thing, as you will). Speaking of ambition – St. Augustine: hmmm. […]
07.03.02 – Thursday
7 March 2002, around 21.18.
This is the way things are, then. Writing mediocre, unimportant essays, listening to Verdi and hoping they’ll all just stop singing & die already. Either that, or reading Boccaccio’s Famous Women. Which I enjoy. A great deal. However. It is procrastination. Yes. How reading medieval Latin texts came to be a form of procrastination I’m […]
In the Garden
26 October 2002, around 17.05.
Books take up space, and libraries, being confined by walls, must occasionally weed the shelves of injudicious pamphlets and books unborrowed through the centuries. That this should astonish or dismay comes as something of a surprise. That, however, is not my theme. I would like to return to the metaphor of libraries as gardens. It […]
It was the Distance
28 October 2002, around 17.09.
For no good reason1 I’ve been reading The Cambridge Companion to Emily Dickinson (ed. W. Martin, CUP: 2002). It is somewhat refreshing to find books which do not concern Cicero. And it is interesting to step outside the charmed circle of academics and then to peer back in, as though through windows. For one can […]
The Histories of Books
29 October 2002, around 17.10.
To write the much-lamented Cicero essay, I happened to check two small pamphlets out of the library, both Teubner editions of short works by Sallust (or an anonymous author in the style of Sallust). Both had been edited by A. Kurfess (who also edited the Teubner edition of Sallust’s other works ) and had belonged […]
Neither a borrower…
18 November 2002, around 16.31.
I have to remind myself it was only a book – mass-market paperback, pristine condition though bought used. I lent it to an acquaintance; I do not say she was a friend, because she was not. She was an acquaintance. At the time I would have compared her to a whirlwind, for wherever she went […]
13 January 2003, around 9.50.
It was very simple once; just a chronicle, a chronological exuberance bogged down in the details. E.g.: 13.01.2003 — Monday — Up late, then to the Bodleian, Gorgias, Blackwell’s (Sylvie & Bruno, £9.99 — cash), coffee, groceries, room, read… &c. But that is not quite right, is it? For who really wants to make of […]
22 January 2003, around 11.05.
For the words and facts of the ancients are as bricks, from which we build the fortresses of our arguments, ever quarreling over the lines of the walls. These walls are torn down and rebuilt with such haste and such fury, that it does not seem strange when they are torn down again, or prove […]
6 February 2003, around 9.20.
Ciceronis Epistulae ad Atticum, edidit D.R. Shackleton Bailey, Cambridge University Press.
26 February 2003, around 7.57.
I was and am an impressionable reader.
Influential Books (ii)
28 March 2003, around 17.16.
a Record of Consumption
10 April 2003, around 21.18.
Including: Sterne; Novalis; Keats; too many Brontës; Chopin; R.L. Stevenson; Chekhov; Modigliani; Kafka; etc. Among other things: Vico, The New Science; A.A. Cooper (Earl of Shaftesbury), Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times; Pepys Diary: 1665 (ed. Lantham et al., vol. 6); Dos Passos, U.S.A.; dental floss; shampoo; oat cakes; muesli; rice crackers. Also: tea (whole […]
errare humanum est
3 June 2003, around 8.10.
I picked up a copy of the book by chance the other day, and started reading it last night. Not that I’ve gotten very far enough to say anything about it, save that it is provoking: Being wrong is also about being displaced, about wandering, dissenting, emigrating, and alienating. The professionalization of the scholar, and, […]
on my desk
17 October 2003, around 10.45.
Book marks Books Alternatives to Athens Henry Auden’s Greek Prose Phrase Book (ca. 1949 — ‘It is similar to Meissner, but with the difference that it is not so elaborate and does not profess to contain everything, its object being rather to stimulate a boy’s own activity and suggest that he should add more phrases […]
7 November 2003, around 10.02.
Powell’s promises to tell me when these books come back in stock: Indexing Books by Ruth Canedy Cross Travels in Arabia Deserta, 2 volumes, by C. M. Doughty Garland of Philip, 2 Volumes, by A. S. F. Gow Book of Trances by Güneli Gün On the Road to Baghdad by Güneli Gün Alpha and Omega […]
13 November 2003, around 8.40.
hopefully, time won’t tell.
9 December 2003, around 9.48.
On the whole we may conclude that Casaubon had strained his narrow means in this one direction of expense. Pinched everywhere else, he spent all he could save on books. Book-buying was to him not the indulgence of a taste or a passion, it was the acquisition of tools. While mere bibliomania is insatiable, the […]
splitted in the midst
6 February 2004, around 14.16.
Currently (and actively) reading (in no particular order): François Rabelais. Gargantua and Pantagruel. trans. J. M. Cohen. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1955.1 J. Innes Miller. The Spice Trade of the Roman Empire, 29 BC to AD 641. Oxford: Clarendon, 1969.2 Michel Foucault. The Archeology of Knowledge. trans. A. M. Sheridan Smith. London: Routledge, 1989 (1969).3 Goethe. Die […]
1 March 2004, around 16.32.
8 March 2004, around 8.12.
adventurous students always read classics.
10 March 2004, around 8.07.
Among the Romanes a Poet was called Vates, which is as much as a diviner, foreseer, or Prophet, as by his conjoyned words Vaticinium, and Vaticinari, is manifest, so heavenly a title did that excellent people bestowe uppon this hart-ravishing knowledge, and so farre were they carried into the admiration thereof, that they thought in […]
de arte poetica liber
23 March 2004, around 12.18.
To my great embarrassment, I mistook this overview of William Blades’s Enemies of Books (via) for a poem1; e.g.: Bagford the biblioclast. Illustrations torn from MSS. Title-pages torn from books. Rubens, his engraved titles. Colophons torn out of books. Lincoln Cathedral Dr. Dibdin’s Nosegay. Theurdanck. Fragments of MSS. Some libraries almost useless. […] The care […]
24 March 2004, around 8.28.
it was the distance…
19 April 2004, around 22.33.
meme (ex machina):1 Intrigue me?2 The impression is that the lay-out of the whole area resembled that of the Seraglio in Constantinople, with palaces, barracks, and other royal buildings set in an area of parkland.3 A house of sin you may call it, but not a house of darkness, for the candles are never out; […]
21 April 2004, around 8.15.
…the judgement that someone is unliterary is like the judgement ‘This man is not in love’, whereas the judgement that my taste is bad is more like ‘This man is in love, but with a frightful woman’. And just as the mere fact that a man of sense and breeding loves a woman we dislike […]
24 July 2004, around 17.14.
Books to be packed. She sat rather glumly looking at her own hands, her chin drawn in as though suffering from indigestion, or a surfeit of English. —Patrick White The Vivisector, p. 317. I am, as it were, at sea. The most difficult part of packing books is deciding which ones I am most likely […]
5 August 2004, around 2.43.
13 December 2004, around 14.14.
Relics of the book trade; but see also a more impressive collection. O. W. Holmes, The Poet at the Breakfast Table: Joyce Kilmer, Trees and Other Poems: ibidem H. W. Auden, Greek Prose Phrase-Book: A. Kiesling, ed. Seneca Rhetor: Newton & Treat, Outline for Review: Roman History: Lord Houghton, Life and Letters of John Keats: […]
3 April 2006, around 11.23.
springtime and Cyprus
return to stacks
2 June 2006, around 16.50.
books, libraries, and necromancy
1 September 2006, around 12.21.
Cataloguing one’s home library has its good points. Entering in ISBNs and publication information is a wonderful way to devour time. One also gets a chance really to look at one’s books; one so seldom has the opportunity. One buys the book, sometimes one even reads it,1 and then it goes on the shelf, jumbled […]
13 October 2006, around 11.26.
The trouble with epigraphy. A fog has settled in for the winter and, although the café is warm and bright, the bustle and noise merely accentuate the drizzle and dark outside. It is my favorite time of year. It feels right to be inside, to be making things with my hands and reading books. Not […]
24 March 2007, around 20.09.
My bookshelves look like a fighter’s mouth, full of painful and surprising gaps. Even books I thought I could not do without, books that shaped my taste and who I am, are gone. Let me explain. When we decided to move abroad I knew, of course, that most1 of the books would have to be […]
24 May 2007, around 11.33.
They took away sixteen boxes of books, a future, a past & a half-baked dream, and left a bill of sale, a cheque, and an increasing sense of freedom.
of the times
12 September 2007, around 20.38.
fallen pears fermenting on the pavement indecisive days too warm and too cold leaden-eyed maidens drooping into evening slouching easily on an afternoon bicycle slumped down reading in a pillowed chair
6 October 2007, around 21.40.
Under the window-seat in the back parlor, where wasps die and desiccate, the memories are kept, unlocked, unbidden, and inaccessible – mint-green florilegium, pallor bred under the western sun. The thought makes me sleepy.
fiction of ideas
13 October 2007, around 13.34.
Between the limits of affection and antipathy for the author’s personality, the relationship of author and reader may take a score of different forms: admiration and respect without affection, as in the case, perhaps, of Thomas Hardy; exasperated affection as in the case of Kipling; devotion for Jane Austen; sheer worship or utter dislike for […]
14 October 2007, around 19.41.
Life is too short for this book which smells of potpourri and afternoons misspent in faded floretry. I cannot tell whether it is the cloying stink or the dullness of the matter (promising to tend where I do not care to follow: to gossip and muddle and the human failing of overestimated importance) that caused […]
31 October 2007, around 22.54.
Since selling off most of the books earlier this year, I’ve been trying to avoid purchasing more, which has led to increased, or perhaps simply more self-conscious library usage. The following are the books I have most recently checked out of the public and local university libraries (including three interlibrary loans): Aksakov: Years of Childhood […]
all the baggage
25 March 2008, around 17.38.
So I was reading Paul Fussell’s book about travel, Abroad. Of course it’s not just about travel, though he does spend some thirty-odd (or more or less, I’ve returned it to the library and cannot refer to it now) pages lamenting the impossibility of true travel1 in this degraded age of tourism, it’s about literary […]
2 May 2008, around 6.00.
on fashion and the happy traveller…
properly instructive (2)
22 December 2009, around 1.07.
How to behave in a library.
4 January 2011, around 16.26.
on studying hard…
the local library
11 March 2011, around 17.39.
NB: This entry was initially published as a page to solicit donations to fund a project supporting the library; the campaign was successful. Goris is a small town located in the rugged mountains of Syuniq marz, which is the southernmost region in Armenia. Once the cultural center of the region, its situation on the road […]
a spring febricitation
1 May 2011, around 12.16.
on overstimulation and minor authors and spring-time
2 September 2011, around 18.19.
Books. There’s an invoice there, too.
paper bullets of the brain
3 September 2011, around 8.04.
After a while books grow matter of fact like everything else and we always think enviously of the days when they were new and wonderful and strange. That’s a part of existence. We lose our first keen relish for literature just as we lose it for ice-cream and confectionery. The taste grows older, wiser and […]
24 September 2011, around 15.19.
And in choosing, from the mid-afternoon drowse, between a biography of Virginia Woolf, some slightly silly essayettes,1 and English Society in the Eighteenth Century (which is, as it sounds, an introductory history to society in 18th century England), I must choose the latter – because its aims are clear, and it will not fight with […]
the common reader
30 September 2011, around 6.07.
…or observations on using a digital reader.1 My brain hasn’t figured out the digital reader yet.2 It doesn’t know how to process the small swiping screen of text with the same efficiency as even the most crabbed, cramped printed page. Of course that efficiency is the product of decades of practice, which obviously haven’t been […]
goats and sheep
2 October 2011, around 20.46.
books and souls, sheep and goats.
20 October 2011, around 8.09.
In which Boswell observes some annotations.
27 March 2012, around 15.00.
There are books which are too powerful, or which are too powerfully effective. I was reading such a book just a few minutes ago – but I won’t name it – about miserable people, leading miserable aimless lives in a gray and dismal country thousands of miles away. It is sunny here, and warm, as […]
20 September 2012, around 21.30.
on architecture, art, busts, and weight…
24 November 2012, around 6.14.
a few remark’s on Tatyana Tolstaya’s dystopian novel, The Slynx.
a definite achievement
6 January 2013, around 7.01.
Wittgenstein on organizing one’s library
hours of indolence
23 January 2013, around 18.56.
…and of course one begins the year with the best of intentions, sweeping through books at a gallant pace, which one’s attempts at scribbling cannot match.
The Business of Books
21 July 2013, around 4.38.
By André Schiffrin, Verso, 2000.
it would do beautifully
21 July 2013, around 5.05.
The inconstant reader. … I reminded him how often we had talked about my travels on the five continents and sixteen seas, and my inability to stay very long in one place. Although I was living peacefully in Pollensa, there was not guarantee it would be permanent. —Álvaro Mutis (Triptych on Sea and Land, p. […]
20 November 2013, around 17.23.
From Darley’s Bookbinding Then and Now (1959; printed opposite p. 85).
portrait of a bookbinder
24 November 2013, around 9.33.
Roger Payne, 1739–17971 Image taken as-is from Bookbinding Then and Now. [↩]
24 December 2013, around 14.10.
No snow, sadly. And of course expected – hoped for – snow at the mountain for Christmas; I’m sure there is, too, another few hundred feet further up. The only thing for it is to skate Skarphedin-like across the hardwood floors in stocking’d feet for another cup of tea.
Life Story of a Technology
25 December 2013, around 6.04.
By Nicole Howard, Johns Hopkins UP, 2005.
A Publisher Speaking
3 January 2014, around 5.20.
By Geoffrey Faber, Houghton Mifflin, 1935.
3 January 2014, around 5.21.
A few books close at hand. Her favourite reading was a mouldy old book called Urn Burial, that she read in bed; and she liked creepy, rustling things like tortoises and cacti. She had a dark, haggard face that made one think of an old graveyard, but her eyes were so dark and deep that […]
pleasant & agreeable
9 January 2014, around 12.00.
It’s dreary out. He is a learned man, and has a power of college-books by heart: his greatest fault is, that he incessantly quotes passages from them in conversation, which is not agreeable to everybody. —Alain-Renée Lesage (Gil Blas, vol. 1, p. 149 (II.ix))1 Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, […]
the printer’s mark
25 January 2015, around 10.41.
Winsor McCay, A Good Book (not the book in question) It is not that the book is badly designed. No. The typeface suits and the pages are pleasingly laid out out. There are suitable illustrations, photos of the poet at various stages in her career – the ordinary image-making of an attractive woman. No. The […]
27 March 2015, around 11.08.
It is at this point in reading the Essays that I notice the running heads do not contain the titles of the essay but rather an arbitrary key point for the page – for the shorter essays this usually results in the title appearing as the running head, but the longer compositions generally have a […]
9 October 2015, around 5.33.
anachronism ‘Thales Milesius’ by Jacques de Gheyn (1616) A man must give to thriving husbandrie, to laborious study, to toilesome hunting, and to every other exercise, the utmost bounds of pleasure; and beware he engage himselfe no further, if once paine begin to intermeddle it selfe with her; we should reserve businesse and negotiations only […]
19 October 2015, around 20.56.
Books that currently ‘saved for later’ – either because I hope to find them at the library book sale, at the local bookstore, or I really don’t have need of them – offered without comment: The complete works of Elizabeth Gaskell The complete works of Constance Holme Thomas Love Peacock, The Misfortunes of Elphin and […]
31 December 2015, around 6.34.
At this point it is unlikely I will finish reading any more books this year, so I might as well make a list of the books I most enjoyed reading in 2015: Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon Dashiell Hammett, The Thin Man Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby Anne Garréta, Sphinx Mary Lascelles, Jane […]
29 March 2016, around 11.30.
It cost too much, to begin with. I really had no excuse for buying it, except that I was feeling out of sorts and aphoristic philosophy seemed like a good choice at the time; it seemed to be a clean copy, too, which would go a little way to excusing the price. At home, however, […]
24 December 2016, around 4.25.
These are by no means all of the books I read this year that I found enjoyable or good, but they are the ones that, when thinking back over the year, stood out to me as some of the better ones – or at least the ones that were the right books for me at […]
5 March 2017, around 6.14.
reading at the dinner table…
30 April 2017, around 18.00.
Diogenes the cynic, radical pragmatist.
25 June 2017, around 9.42.
The days are warm; even the stacks of books at the local bookstore relax into a puddle on the floor, unable to withstand the heat.
good, better, bested
31 December 2017, around 13.51.
Of the books I read in 2017, I would recommend the following: Peter Brown, Through the Eye of a Needle – an engaging look at wealth and the early church. Barbara Comyns, Our Spoons Came from Woolworths – a better presentation of the limits of intellect than An American Tragedy. Northrop Frye, The Educated Imagination […]
7 May 2019, around 10.11.
Noticing new angles.
11 December 2020, around 5.41.
Nothing is quite what I’m expecting at the moment. If November was a month in which I could read fluently and easily and joyfully and curiously, December is, or currently seems to be, a month in which nothing makes sense, and every word on a page makes me peevish. I am tempted to retreat into […]
26 January 2021, around 5.31.
These are some of the latest things I haven’t read, with the excuses I made for abandoning them. Penguin classics edition of Epicurus. I had hoped for updated notes and bibliography, something that I could point students (should I ever get another course as adjunct) towards, but it was a reprint of a book published […]
5 February 2021, around 15.06.
The other morning I happened to finish reading a relatively recent translation of The Encheiridion by Epictetus (well, via Arrian), which is a text I almost always find to be a tonic (if not taken in excess). In addition to soothing my temper, though, the present reading also left me somewhat unsettled, not with the […]
12 February 2021, around 6.24.
‘They were old maids. They weren’t cranky because they hadn’t had a man but because they’d had too many old books.’ —the gravedigger, qtd. in Ronald Blythe, Akenfield
the guest-room bookshelf
19 February 2021, around 14.22.
Not quite a guest-room bookshelf, ca. 2012. So many books enter one’s life through happenstance, rather than through the ordered chaos of book reviews or bibliographies or the propinquity of a library or bookstore shelf (each good in its way).1 This aleatoric approach to book selection is something I associate with travelling, and I like […]
22 April 2021, around 13.54.
I don’t think the illustrator got the phthisical phiz of Lorry Slim quite right in this dapper sketch of a portly parson. Idleness does not cause disease primarily and in itself, but by means of excess. For parts of the body characterized by idleness become weaker and less robust, as each excess comes about due […]
11 June 2021, around 5.51.
It is a foolish question – what book is the most formally perfect? – because it assumes, first, that there is an ideal form for a book, and second, that perfection is attainable.1 The only perfection possible is the heat death of the universe – frozen droplets of iron suspended, isolated, in a deafening void, […]
2 July 2021, around 9.37.
A view of Constantinople, ca. 1635, by Matthäus Merian Somewhat jokingly I said that I wanted the shelves to reflect the great arc of history, not a hodgepodge of regional narratives. In the beginning, this was fine. There was room, narrative room, to arrange the books in something like a chronology to present something like […]
10 April 2022, around 7.55.
other readers in the stacks.
7 August 2022, around 17.22.
10 October 2022, around 6.39.
In the dream I was trying to buy a book on Samothrace at the local bookstore. I was supposed to meet someone there, but kept missing the streetcar stop and having to go around the entire loop again, as all the other nearby stops were closed; I ended up alighting some ways distant and returning […]
on travel writing
21 November 2022, around 5.00.
Sed diu non retemptavi memoriam meam, itaque non facile me sequitur. Quod evenit libris situ cohaerentibus, hoc evenisse mihi sentio; explicandus est animus et quaecumque apud illum deposita sunt, subinde excuti debent, ut parata sint, quotiens usus exegerit. Ergo hoc in praesentia differamus; multum enim operae, multum diligentiae poscit. Cum primum longiorem eodem loco speravero […]
23 November 2022, around 13.34.
‘Underlining personalizes the book. The marks become traces of your interest.’ (124) ‘If the book is yours and it does not have antiquarian value, do not hesitate to annotate it. Do not trust those who say that you must respect books. You respect books by using them, not leaving them alone.’ (125f.) —Umberto Eco, How […]
26 January 2023, around 17.33.
‘Books that speak like the noise of multitudes reduce to despair by the sheer weight of their emptiness. They entertain us like the lights of the city streets at night, by hopes they cannot fulfil.’ —Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude, ch. xiv
12 February 2023, around 14.24.
The familiar indecision of packing books before a trip. They must all fit into a drawstring bag that takes up about a quarter, or perhaps a third, of the primary bag, which also needs to contain everything else one could possibly imagine needing, as well as many things no one could possibly find useful but […]
23 June 2023, around 12.04.
Theme: Origins. It was somewhere on Twitter, I think, that I saw a bookseller comment on household book displays, on the ways people live with and around books. It was around the time that I found out the library supply store does not require an institutional account (or institutional quantities) to purchase bookends and other […]
30 November 2023, around 4.16.
‘And yet it’s autumn now, as clear as water and as bright as a mirror, and I should be happy’ —Eileen Chang (‘On the Second Edition of Romances’, Written on Water, trans. Andrew F. Jones, p. 218) ‘Every reader is cumbered by an excess of books, and every book by an excess of readers—each overwhelmed […]