I am a very minor collector of books! I am blessed with the ability to read and absorb material reasonably quickly. Relaxation is a good book with my feet up and some music playing in the background.
My own collection of books particularly concentrates on the post Second World War political memoir and biography. It’s fascinating to see how politicians give account of their lives. At some point if I get a couple of free days I need to catalogue this ever expanding collection and put them in some kind of order. Now there’s a thought – do I separate them by political party, age, importance or date of office?
In the light of all this it is not surprising that I came across Margaret Willes’ wonderful book published by Yale University Press entitled ‘Reading Matters: Five centuries of discovering books’. This book looks at important book collections and what our attitude to books is.
It is easy to forget in our own day of cheap paperbacks and mega book stores that until very recently books were a luxury item. Those who could not afford to buy had to borrow, share, obtain second hand, inherit or listen to others reading.
Willes covers several centuries and looks at a number of public and private libraries across a period – most of which have survived. This is a very good book about books and splendidly well written.