Book Review: Phantoms on the Bookshelves, by Jacques Bonnet


‘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.

Phantoms on the Bookshelves, by Jacques BonnetThe 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:
http://www.amazon.com/Phantoms-Bookshelves-Jacques-Bonnet/dp/1590207599/

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Article: Overrated Books


The following link is to an article about 10 overrated books. First on the list is ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger and can I say, I agree. Someone has said it – the book did very little for me.

What do you think of this list, which of couse is a completely subjective list. One person’s dislike is another’s like.

For more visit:
http://www.flavorwire.com/293260/10-epidemically-overrated-books

This Little Church Went to Market – The Church in the Age of Entertainment, by Gary Gilley


I have decided to start reading this book again. I have mentioned ‘This Little Church Went to Market’ in an earlier post in At the BookShelf and this is linked to below:

https://atthebookshelf.wordpress.com/2010/10/30/this-little-church-went-to-market-by-gary-gilley/

Back in October 2010 when I started to read this book I put it aside for some reason – I may have gone on holiday and forgot about it on my return. Anyhow, I decided to take it up again and then to read the two other books that come after it as per my original post. So that is my plan over the next few weeks and months.

This Little Church Went to Market, by Gary Gilley, was first published in 2002 by Xulon Press (ISBN: 1 5916 0049 9). The edition I have is that published as a paperback by Evangelical Press in 2010 (ISBN: 0-85234-596-8 & ISBN-13 978-085234-596-2). The book was revised and updated in 2006. My edition has 142 pages, so it isn’t a large book by any means.

So about to start reading the book – feel free to read it also and join in the discussion on it.

 

Book Group

I have added this book to read at the book group at BookClubIt. Please join in the discussion at the book group or add your thoughts here on the Blog.

At the BookShelf (book reading group at BookClubIt):
http://www.bookclubit.com/bookclub.php?id=404

 

The Book – Get a Copy

At Goodreads:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2275230.This_Little_Church_Went_to_Market

At Shelfari:
http://www.shelfari.com/books/6229162/This-Little-Church-Went-to-Market-The-Church-in-the-Age-of-Enter

Purchase a copy of the book at Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/This-Little-Church-Went-Market/dp/1591600499
http://www.amazon.com/This-Little-Church-Went-Market/dp/0852345968/

Or Visit:
http://www.monergismbooks.com/This-Little-Church-Went-to-Market-p-16471.html

 

Note: This is a completely independent review – I have received nothing for it.

 

A Cartoon History of the George Dubya Bush Years, By Elena Steier


 I have just had a quick look at ‘A Cartoon History of the George Dubya Bush Years,’ by Elena Steier. This book is a collection of cartoons from the George W. Bush years as president of the United States. They are a comical look at those years and I’m sure will produce a laugh or two for some people. I however found little in it that amused me – perhaps because I live in Australia and don’t get all the political jokes based on the US political scene of the George W. Bush years.

I have to say that I found some of the cartoons quite offensive and a good number without anything that made them funny to my way of thinking at all. I quite openly state that I am a Christian and therefore some of the material in these cartoons is particularly shocking and offensive to me.

I have had a good laugh at a good number of the cartoons I have seen of George W. Bush in Australian papers, so I do not base my opinion of this book on my appreciation of George W. Bush as a president or for not being able to have a laugh at politics. I simply did not find this book particularly funny or appealing in any way. In fact, I have rid myself of it completely.

Available at Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Fringe-Cartoon-History-George-Dubya/dp/1439211744

There is a copy here:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/23408494/A-Cartoon-History-of-The-George-Dubya-Bush-Administration

 

‘Calvin for Armchair Theologians,’ by Christopher Elwood


I have now read this book and have found my earlier thoughts sadly confirmed. My first comments on this book on this Blog at:

https://atthebookshelf.wordpress.com/2009/11/27/calvin-for-armchair-theologians-by-christopher-elwood/

So I not only agree with my earlier thoughts on the book, but have even more to say about it. The illustrations (cartoons) I found to be completely inappropriate and the attempts by the author to justify them as irrelevant. There is just no place for the comical depictions of God given in the book.

The treatment of Calvin’s life is disappointing, with not enough detail given to it and some of the important events/incidents in his life are not treated or merely glossed over. It would have been better to have settled on the summary of the Institutes or do a full biography of John Calvin.

I also found the conclusions toward the end of the book disappointing and would suspect Calvin to be turning in the grave as a result of them.

The summary of the Institutes was probably not too bad, but I would have been better served to have read the Institutes rather than this book.

In summary – a very disappointing book that I would not recommend to anyone else to read.

Changing the World: November 18 – Combat Terrorism


OK – this is a suggestion I’m all for. Wouldn’t the world be a so much better place with no terrorism? Certainly – now what can I do. I can be ‘alert, but not alarmed,’ as the Australian television add of a couple of years ago told me. But what more? Can terrorism be eliminated?

I doubt terrorism will ever be completely eliminated – but it would be great if it could be. We can certainly reduce it greatly and that too would be good.

The suggestion in the book ‘365 Ways to Change the World,’ by Michael Norton is a little disappointing here. Sure, I don’t agree with torture and unlawful detention, etc. However, the suggestion is a little too ‘polite’ toward terrorists for my liking. I have no time for terrorists and they need to be rooted out and, well, they will probably get hurt during the process – I don’t have a lot of sympathy for them I must admit.

The suggestion is for combating terrorism without the erosion of human rights while doing so. As I said – I don’t want to see human rights eroded. I also don’t want to see terrorists given soft treatment – they chose to forego that when they became terrorists in my book.