‘Phantoms on the Bookshelves,’ by Jacques Bonnet was translated from the French original by Sian Reynolds and has an introduction by James Salter. The copy I have is a Kindle edition. It was first published in Great Britain in 2010 by MacLehose Press. It is a relatively short book at 123 pages in length, so it won’t take too much to get through it.
The introduction to the book by James Salter is a good, brief read concerning the author of the book and his book collecting ways. It could easily describe me, though I have nowhere near as many books as Bonnet, even though I have thousands myself in traditional form and/or digital format. I see similarities between the description given of Bonnet by Salter and myself, with my far fewer volumes. I too struggle now to find room for them all, with my virtual bookshelves requiring expansion in the near future to accomodate my book collecting ways into the current century and digital age. Traditional books have long run out of room in this house, as I suspect they have in Bonnet’s apartment.
Bonnet is a man who loves books and his thoughts on what is normal in a home, the presence of many books, is something I can relate to. I also find myself in wonder when I see homes with no books, particularly in some of the circles in which I move or have moved. How can they get by without books? Mind you it is probably not as easy a situation to read (no pun intended – truly not) these days, with books now being able to be stored by the thousands on a home computer and/or on an external hard drive or two. Still, I have wondered this for many years and I think Bonnet would probably agree with me. Relating to others is made easier when discussing books for Bonnet and I find this an agreeable thing also. It is the way of Bibliophiles, whether we use that term or not (perhaps for some Bibliomaniac is a better term).
I did not find Bonnet’s chapter on cataloguing and organisation helpful at all, though I expect it would help some. This is probably because I have developed my own system which closely resembles that of the Dewey to almost certainly be called a Dewey system. The Bonnet decsription horrified me and I thought it would become far too confusing and disorienting for me. He is certainly right about the Internet making a major impact on libraries and the need to have as many books as he has in his collection. It is not only the storing of works on the World Wide Web, in the cloud and on other digital storage systems like computers, external drives, etc, where libraries are changing and/or have changed, but also in the cataloguing and organisation of books. I have a large number of books stored on digital devices and by digital means, but I also have access to far more over the Internet from vast libraries that I can access online. But I also have both offline and online digital methods for assisting me in cataloguing and organising my books, which I use as best I can and with great relief for being able to do so. Yet it boils down to individual choice and comfortableness, being able to manage these resources in a way that allows the individual to harness them to the greatest effect, which is indeed something of an indiviual matter and process.
The Bonnet method of reading will not be everyones cup of tea, but that’s OK too, because that is also a very individualistic thing. Bonnet likes lying down to read, I prefer sitting at a desk. Bonnet likes to underline and write in his books as he reads, I prefer to highlight and collate quotes via other media. There is no one rule for all, but many different rules for many different people. The thing is to retain what one reads in some way, that I think is the key to reading. It is certainly not a requirement to read each and every book from cover to cover, but to take a dip in each one to some extent and to achieve some purpose when doing so is required if you wish to say that you read your books and they aren’t just display items.
The manner in which Bonnet has collected his books is almost baffling to someone who has not done so in the same manner. He seems almost obsessed with completing lists and collections of books, of following every author/book line that comes up in what he reads or experiences. It seems any book mentioned must be obtained for his library. This is the way of a Bibliomaniac, that is for sure. His obsession with collecting ‘picture’ books is another seemingly crazed hobby which almost seems to be a driving force for him. I too collect books, but this insight into how another book lover and lover of reading goes about collecting his books is one that is beyond my experience. It is a fascinating world of book hunting and gathering if ever there was one. Something about one book leads to another which leads to another, or some conversation leads to a book which leads to another, etc.
Bonnet’s reflections upon his books shows someone who truly absorbs what he reads and imbibes the being of those written about. He seems to feel them, to know them, far better than any creator of them. Authors of books, whether fictional pieces or biographical/autobiographical works fade with the passing of time, if indeed a true reflection of them is left in the pages of the books they write or in the annals of history. However, those created and placed within the realms of literature remain the same and can be known almost completely. There are places to visit, whether real or ethereal, people to meet and to greet. Books bring a whole world to one’s home and experience, and even beyond that one travels into the realm of fictional lands and peoples. A plethora of experience that is only exaggerated when the library is swollen by multimedia resources. What an amazing world the library can become – is.
Buy this book at Amazon:
I am about to start using a new web application called BookYap. Put simply, BookYap is an application that recommends books based on criteria you enter. There are over 650 000 books in its database, so chances are it will find a book for you.
You can search for a book by using keywords or the filters it has available (based on personality types). By becoming a registered user, the application learns more and more about you and your reading habits, improving the recommendations it makes for you.
Books appear with thumbnails of their covers and book ratings. A brief description appears by hovering over the thumbnail. You are able to interact with the application and associated community by sharing books you have read and your reviews of them. There is connectivity with both Facebook and Twitter also.
You are also able to add books to a reading wishlist if you like. Books can be purchased from Amazon when you choose a book to read.
Visit BookYap at:
from the Reformation to the Beginning of the Reign of King George I, by Thomas Crosby
As noted in a previous post, I have been reading ‘The History of the English Baptists from the Reformation to the Beginning of the Reign of King George I,’ by Thomas Crosby. I have also been adding this work to my website (a link to this book appears at the end of this post).
I have now completed reading and adding the preface, table of contents and part of the first chapter.
The preface covers the period from the early church through to the first Baptists in England, tracing the origins of the Baptists and disproving their rise to that of the Anabaptists at Munster and the disaster that occurred in that city as a result of the Anabaptist rebellion.
Though a lengthy preface, it briefly touches on such as the Albigenses, the Waldenses, Wickcliff, Donatists, etc. Crosby goes back through history, from the reformation to the first century finding evidence of Baptistic beliefs and practices. It is a very interesting study, even though it is brief. Another interesting aspect of this study is the evidence for early Baptistic existence, even in the writings of Paedobaptist authors and the evidence against the early practice of infant-baptism in the early church.
To read the preface and further, please follow the link below:
I have recently posted on the particularbaptist.com library site ‘The Story of the English Baptists,’ by John C. Carlile. The book can be found at the following link:
I own the 1905 edition which was printed as a hardcover by James Clarke & Co. in London, England. My copy is quite aged and is in quite poor condition. The version I have placed online is of course in pristine condition and will undoubtedly stay that way.
There are a number of illustrations and photographs in the book – all of which can be found in the online version.
The book provides something of an introduction to both the General and Particular Baptists, and as such is probably a useful book in that it whets the appetite to research deeper into the history of Baptists in England – which in my case is especially true of the Particular Baptists (of whom I am one).
There are some very interesting and useful chapters in the book, though the treatments of some of the ‘big’ names in Particular Baptist history are quite brief – as I say, something of an introduction. Perhaps an overview may be a better way to describe the book.
I don’t think everyone will necessarily agree with all of the conclusions and statements made by the author of the book. For example, there is something definitely hinky about his comments regarding possible unification of General and Particular Baptists. I’m not sure that he really grasps the significance of the differences between the two camps.
Out of 5 I’d probably give the book a generous 3. I think the book has merit, but is yet disappointing.