Sunday, December 31, 2017

Links & Reviews

I hope you've all had a delightful holiday season, and here comes 2018, ready or not.

- A bit more on the Philips Library from the Salem News, and the petition mentioned in my last post continues to garner signatures, with 2,988 as of this morning.

- From Past is Present, a post by Kathleen Major about her work on attempting to identify the authors of anonymous diaries in the AAS collections.

- The Metropolitan Museum of Art purchased a 14th-century illuminated Hebrew Bible prior to its scheduled sale at Sotheby's.

- The Library of Congress highlights some of the maps scanned and made available this year.

- The National Library of Scotland has announced the availability of the Peter Sharratt Collection.

- Caleb Crain's "Notes, 2017" is a fascinating commonplace book of the year.

- The Guardian is running a fun end-of-year short stories podcast series; the first features Penelope Lively introducing M.R. James' wonderfully creepy "Oh Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad," accompanied by Simon Callow's reading of the story.

- Police in Norwich are seeking information about the theft of several books from a delivery van.

- Amelia Hugill-Fontanel's "Mind Your Thorns & Eths," about a visit to bookshops and letterpress outfits in Iceland, has given me a few more things to add to my list of places to go when I'm there in March!

- At NPR, Victoria Schwab says "Just Trust Me: In Praise of Strange Books."

- Try your hand at the Guardian Christmas quiz and their big books quiz of the year.

- The Library of Congress has updated their policy on the Twitter archive. Dan Cohen has a post on "The Significance of the Twitter Archive at the Library of Congress."

- Hoaxter Clifford Irving of Autobiography of Howard Hughes fame died, aged 87. See the NYTimes obit.

- Katherine Skiba profiles Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden for the Chicago Tribune.

- In Signature, Lorraine Berry on "The Sensational Allure of Lost Books in Fiction and Nonfiction."

- Ian Cobain reports for the Guardian on the thousands of documents reported removed from public access at the National Archives (mostly by civil servants, it seems) and not returned.

- Mike Hanlon summarizes some of the end-of-year auction action at New Atlas.

- The Bodleian Library has announced that several previously unseen J.R.R. Tolkien "Father Christmas" letters to his children will be part of a major exhibition opening in May.


- A.N. Wilson's Charles Darwin: Victorian Mythmaker; review by Jerry Coyne in the WaPo. Wowsers. This and several other Darwin-related books are reviewed by Claire Pettit in the TLS.

- Christopher de Hamel's Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts; review by Helen Castor in the NYTimes.

- Robert Irwin's Wonders Will Never Cease; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

- Martin Salisbury's The Illustrated Dust Jacket, 1920–1970; reviews by Ernest Hilbert in the WaPo and Agatha French in the LATimes.

- Anders Rydell's The Book Thieves; review by Ashley Valanzola in the LARB.

Upcoming Auction

- Books and Ephemera at National Book Auctions on 6 January.

Year-End Reading Report 2017

I think it's somewhat fair to say that 2017 will be another year I won't be sad to see the back of, but I have high hopes for 2018.

I read 174 books this year, and here are my favorites (excluding re-reads). I went with ten each this year, for no real reason at all other than I wanted to. These are the books that made me think, or laugh, and/or cry this year.


Kristin Lavransdottir by Sigrid Undset

Tales by H.P. Lovecraft (the Library of America edition)

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

When the English Fall by David Williams

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell


An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice by Khizr Khan

March by John Lewis (with graphics by Nate Powell)

The Early Life of James McBey: An Autobiography (edited by Nicolas Barker)

H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald

Uncle Tungsten by Oliver Sacks

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Watching the English by Kate Fox

Printer's Error by Rebecca and J.P. Romney

A Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark and Memoirs of the Author of the 'Rights of Woman' by Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin

The Victory with No Name by Colin Calloway

Happy New Year to you all, and good reading!

Previous year's reports: 20162015201420132012201120102009200820072006.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Links & Reviews

To start today, two petitions which may be of interest:

- First, Paul Lewis and others have written a letter and online petition to encourage Historic Boston, Inc. to explore the feasibility of turning the Old Corner Bookstore (currently housing a Chipotle) into a museum of Boston's literary history.

- Second, by way of followup to a story noted last week, there is an online petition calling on the Peabody Essex Museum to return the Phillips Library collections to Salem (with nearly 2,200 signatures as of this morning).

- Another excellent idea: in Smithsonian, Colin Dickey offers "A Plea to Resurrect the Christmas Tradition of Telling Ghost Stories." I highly recommend reading some M.R. James this holiday season!

- A neat acquisition by the Princeton Graphic Arts collection, the foundry book for the 21 April 1945 issue of the New Yorker, showing copy edits and proofs for the magazine.

- The Junto celebrates its fifth birthday. Many congratulations to all who have made this excellent blog what it is, and here's to many more years.

- The BBC has a short report on the sale of Richard Adams' library last week.

- There's an update on the Shakespeare's World transcription efforts and how they in turn feed back into the overall EMMO project.

- More than 27,000 images from the Gabriel García Márquez archive are now available via the HRC.

- Katherine Ruffin reviews another APHA panel, on "Printerly Identity, Subversion, and Nation-Building."

- Michael Dirda offers his holiday book recommendations (including a couple from our friends at Oak Knoll Press).

- Erin McCarthy writes for Mental Floss about Audubon's Birds of America (with a particular focus on the furniture built to house copies of the volumes).

- In Smithsonian, Jo Marchant reports on an ongoing study of palimpsest texts at St. Catherine's Monastery. The work so far has "revealed more than 284 erased texts in ten languages, including classical, Christian and Jewish texts dating from the fifth century until the 12th century."


- James Delburgo's Collecting the World; review by Suzanna Fischer in the LARB.

- Ursula Le Guin's No Time to Spare; reviews by Michelle Dean in the LATimes and Jason Heller for NPR.

Upcoming Auctions

- The Sherlock Holmes Collection of Daniel Posnansky at Profiles in History on 19 December.

- Important Judaica at Sotheby's New York on 20 December.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Links & Reviews

- Michael Blanding reports for the NYTimes on what looks like yet another modern forgery come to light: a ~1507 Waldseemüller world map that was set to be sold by Christie's this week before doubts were raised about its authenticity by Alex Clausen, Barry Ruderman, Michael Peichl, and Nick Wilding. Christie's has withdrawn the map from this week's sale.

- News this week from Salem, MA, where local media is covering the story that the Phillips Library collections, removed from their building in 2011 for renovations and kept at a facility in Rowley since then, probably won't be returning to Salem. See the Salem News report or "Shameless Stewards" at streestsofsalem.

- Over at Mental Floss, Rebecca Romney offers some tips for taking care of your books (common-sense to most of us, but useful reminders).

- Elizabeth DeBold explains this month's Crocodile Mystery at The Collation.

- From American Book Collecting, "The Heroic Age: Dibdin, Heber, and Bibliomania."

- On the Library of Congress blog, John Cole reflects on his job as the Library's first official historian.

- Jennifer Howard highlights a few of her recent stories on the biblio-world.

- The LATimes profiles Whitmore Rare Books and other LA-area rare booksellers.


- Ron Chernow's Grant; review by Padraic Scanlon for the Guardian.

- Carol Porter Grossman's The History of the Limited Editions Club; review by Lise Jaillant in the TLS.

- Gordon Wood's Friends Divided; review by Edith Gelles in the WaPo.

- Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris' The Lost Words; review by Meara Sharma in the WaPo.

Upcoming Auctions

- Fine Books & Manuscripts at Sotheby's New York on 11 December.

- English Literature, History, Children's Books & Illustrations at Sotheby's London on 11 December.

- History of Science and Technology at Sotheby's New York on 12 December.

- Printed Books, Maps & Documents at Dominic Winter Auctioneers on 13 December.

- Valuable Books and Manuscripts at Christie's London on 13 December.

- The Library of Richard Adams at Dominic Winter Auctioneers on 14 December.

- Books and Works on Paper, Including Fine Photographs at Bloomsbury on 14 December.

- Fine Americana - Travel & Exploration - World History - Cartography at PBA Galleries on 14 December.

- Children's & Illustrated Books at Dominic Winter Auctioneers on 15 December.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Links & Reviews

- At Wynken de Worde, Sarah Werner on "creating a digitized facsimile wishlist," in which she calls for suggestions of early printed books that aren't yet available as open-access digital facsimiles.

- In December's Rare Book Monthly, Thibault Ehrengardt on the Aristophil aftermath, Susan Halas on "courtesy to the trade," a followup report from Michael Stillman about the auction of an early Declaration of Independence broadside ($1.8 million!), and more.

- Rebecca Romney is starting up a biblio-newsletter; I have subscribed in anticipation, and would encourage all readers of this blog to do the same.

- The Codex Amiatinus will return to Britain for an exhibition at the British Library in 2018. And the Codex Leicester will be displayed at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence from October 2018.

- The Folger's Crocodile Mystery for December is up and awaiting your guesses.

- James Mitchell writes for the National Library of Scotland blog about cataloging what looks like a very interesting collection of Venetian chapbooks.

- Penelope Lively's papers have been acquired by the British Library.

- John Hodgman gets the "By the Book" treatment in the NYTimes.

- Sara Sauers has another APHA panel review, on "Transatlantic Connections."

- Over at Medieval Manuscripts Provenance, "Louise Ege, Book-Breaker."


- Allan Young and Patrick Scott's The Kilmarnock Burns: A Census; review by Michael Stillman for Rare Book Monthly.

- Jorge Carrión's Bookshops: A Reader's History; review by Alan Riding in the NYTimes.

- Ingrid Rowland and Noah Charney's The Collector of Lives; review by Deborah Solomon in the NYTimes.

- Kevin Young's Bunk; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

- David E. Fishman's The Book Smugglers and Michele K. Troy's Strange Bird; review by Anna Katharina Schaffner in the TLS.

Upcoming Auctions

- Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts Including Americana at Christie's New York on 5 December.

Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts and Continental and Russian Books at Sotheby's London on 5 December.

- Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books at Swann Galleries on 5 December.

- Fine Books and Manuscripts at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers on 6 December.

- Western and Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures at Bloomsbury on 6 December.

- History of Science and Technology at Bonhams New York on 6 December.

- Voices of the 20th Century at Bonhams New York on 6 December.

- Russian America & Polar Exploration: Highlights from the Martin Greene Library at Christie's New York on 7 December.