Little Books, Big Ideas: Inspiring Quotes About Writing

alex atkins bookshelf booksIf you visit a used bookstore, you might stumble upon an often neglected section: miniature or compact books. A miniature book generally measures 3 by 4 inches; some are even smaller: 1.5 inches by 2 inches. A compact book, also known as an octodecimo in American Library Association lingo, generally measures 4 x 6 inches. Unfortunately, these types of books are often dismissed due to their small size. “If they are so small, how can they possibly matter?” you think to yourself. Astute book lovers, however, know that even little books can contain big ideas — profound thoughts that can change your life.

In my periodic visits to used bookstores, I recently came across such a thought-provoking little book: The Wit and Wisdom of Women edited by the editors of Running Press, published in1993. Founded in 1972 by Stuart and Larry Teacher, Running Press specialized in small books that could be purchased as gifts.

In the introduction of The Wit and Wisdom of Women, the editors write: “The book you hold is a celebration of women’s lives, at once funny, poignant, passionate, and irrepressibly joyful… Many of these women, bound by time, place, and circumstance, could not possibly have conversed during their lifetimes — but that doesn’t mean we can’t delight in a spirited dialogue of our own making… These unexpected meetings of the mind affirm the universal quality of experience.” Here are some inspiring quotes about writing:

“We rely upon the poets, the philosophers, and the playwrights to articulate what most of us can only feel, in joy or sorrow. They illuminate the thoughts for which we only grope; they give us the strength and balm we cannot find in ourselves. Whenever I feel my courage wavering, I rush to them. They give me the wisdom of acceptance, the will and resiliance to push on.”
From A Gift of Joy (1965) by Helen Hayes

“A thing is incredible, if ever, only after it is told — returned to the world it came out of.”
From the short story “No Place for You, My Love” (1952) by Eudora Welty

“We inherit a great responsibility as well for we must give voice to centuries not only of silent bitterness and hate but also of neighborly kindness and sustaining love.”
From The Third Life of Grange Copeland (1970) by Alice Walker

“Although some use stories as entertainment alone, tales are, in their oldest sense, a healing art. Some are called to this healing art, and the best, to my lights, are those who have lain with the story and found all its matching parts inside themselves and its depth… In the best tellers I know, the stories grow out of their lives like roots grow a tree. The stories have grown them, from them into who they are.”
From Women Who Run with Wolves (1989) by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

“When you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a miner’s pick, a woodcarver’s gouge, a surgeon’s probe. You wield it, and it digs a path you follow. Soon you find yourself deep in new territory. Is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject? You will know tomorrow, or this time next year. You make the path boldly and follow it fearfully. You go where the path leads. At the end of the path, you find a box canyon. You hammer out reports, dispatch bulletins. The writing has changed, in your hands, and in a twinkling, from an expression of your notions to an epistemological tool. The new place interests you because it is not clear. You attend. In your humility, you lay down the words carefully, watching all the angles. Now the earlier writing looks soft and careless. Process is nothing; erase your tracks. The path is not the work. I hope your tracks have grown over; I hope birds ate the crumbs; I hope you will toss it all and not look back.”
From The Writing Life (1989) by Annie Dillard

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

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To learn more about Alexander Atkins Design please visit www.alexatkinsdesign.com

Most Expensive Books Sold in 2022

atkins-bookshelf-booksWhen dedicated bibliophiles want to purchase a book, they generally turn to AbeBooks rather than Amazon Marketplace or eBay. AbeBooks was founded in Victoria, British Columbia, as the Advanced Book Exchange in 1995 by four bibliophiles. The company was acquired by Amazon in 2008. The site lists more than 140 million books from thousands of independent booksellers, many former brick-and-mortar establishments, from more than 50 countries.

Each year, AbeBooks publishes the list of the most expensive rare books sold on the site, providing a glimpse into what books have come onto the market and what bibliophiles are willing to pay for their Holy Grails. Despite how high these numbers are, they pale in comparison to the price that bibliophiles pay for exceptionally rare and valuable books that are only sold at auction or through private broker sales.

(1) I Quattro Libri dell Architettura (The Four Books of Architecture, 1570) by Andrea Palladio, $57,750
This influential first edition set of four books about architecture was written by Andrea di Pietro (nicknamed Palladio) who worked extensively in Venice. His style, known as Palladian architecture, was influenced by the classical architecture from ancient Greek and Roman traditions. Palladian architecture is characterized by its grand appearance and use of classical elements, specifically, symmetry, harmony, balance, tall columns (Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian), and intricate detail.

(2) Cook’s Voyages (1773-1784) by John Hawkesworth, $50,000
This is a rare first edition set (nine volumes) of the official accounts of British explorer Captain James Cook’s three voyages in the Pacific Ocean published in 1773, 1777, and 1784. During the 18th century, these books were bestsellers because Europeans were curious about life in distant lands: New Zealand, Australia, and the Hawaiian Islands.

(3) How to Trade Stocks (1940) by Jesse Livermore, $40,000
A first edition, signed by the author, published by Duell, Sloan & Pearce. In the 1920s, Livermore was one of the great stock traders, worth millions, who traded with his own money. His formula for monitoring trends is still used today — more than 80 years later.

(4) Cantiques des Cantiques (1931) by Solomon, $25,000
This is a rare French limited edition (1 of 8) of The Canticle of Canticles (or Song of Songs), an erotic poem, illustrated by British artist Eric Gill. The Song of Songs, which signifies the “most excellent, best song,” is one of three books of Solomon, contained in the Hebrew, the Greek, and the Christian Canon of the Scriptures. The literal subject of the poem is love and sexual longing between a woman and a man. Because it explicitly says little or nothing about the relationship of God and man, Christians commentators turn to allegory to treat the love that the poem celebrates as an analogy for the love between God and Church.

(5) The Time Machine (1895) by H. G. Wells – $30,500
This is a first edition of Wells’ first novel published by Henry Holt. The author’s signature appears below his misspelled name on the title page (“H.S. Wells”). Wells not only popularized the concept of time travel in a machine, and coined the term “time machine.” The novel is considered one of the seminal works of science-fiction literature that inspired countless stories about time travel.

 ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

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For further reading: http://www.abebooks.com/books/rarebooks/most-expensive-sales-2022

To learn more about Alexander Atkins Design please visit www.alexatkinsdesign.com

What Can Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Teach Us?

atkins-bookshelf-xmasStudents of literature, indeed anyone who loves books and stories, can agree on one universal truth — that, in the words of C. S. Lewis “we read to know that we are not alone.” Novelist and essayist James Baldwin adds: “You read something which you thought only happened to you, and you discover that it happened 100 years ago to Dostoevsky. This is a very great liberation for the suffering, struggling person, who always thinks that he is alone.”

Another universal truth is that we read to learn, to heal, and to transform ourselves. As George Dawson, an English literature lecturer and founder of the Shakespeare Memorial Library in Birmingham, observed: “The great consulting room of a wise man is a library… the solemn chamber in which man can take counsel with all that have been wise and great and good and glorious amongst the men that have gone before him.”

On this day after Christmas, we turn our attention to a ghostly little story that has much to teach: Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol — a story of about redemption, forgiveness, and generosity. But Dickens did not write A Christmas Carol simply to amuse us; he wrote it to inspire self-reflection and change — to help us become better human beings. “Beyond entertaining us,” writes Bob Welch in 52 Little Life Lessons From A Christmas Carol, “Dickens wanted to make us uncomfortable, because it’s only after we get a touch uneasy with ourselves that we open ourselves to change… to create a spark that might lead to flames of action: changing how we look at the world, changing how we act in the world, and ultimately changing how we will be remembered in the world.” Indeed, if we are able to transform ourselves, in light of the lessons from Dickens’s classic story, this is the Christmas miracle.

Bookshelf presents some important life lessons from A Christmas Carol gleaned from Welch’s enlightening little book:

Don’t be selfish
Don’t let people steal your joy
See life as a child
Everyone has value
Life isn’t just about business
You make the chains that shackle you
Humility enhances vision
To heal you must feel
Your actions affect others
The love of money costs you in the end
Life is best lived when you are awake
Learning begins with listening
Attitude is everything

The past can be empowering
Don’t return evil for evil
Bitterness will poison you
Dying lonely is the result of living lonely
Pain is the privilege of losing someone you care deeply about
Amid tragedy, others still need you
Before honor comes humility
Give because you have been given to
Giving changes your perspective
Live with the end in mind
It is never too late to change
Be the change you want to see

In A Christmas Carol, Dickens gives us one of the most famous endings in literature, highlighting the fact that the holidays present a special opportunity for redemption, the chance to be a better human being:

“Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: Why Read Dickens?
The Origin of the Name Scrooge
The Inspiration for Dickens’s A Christmas Carol
What is a First Edition of A Christmas Carol Worth?
The Story Behind “The Night Before Christmas”

Words invented by Dickens
The Power of Literature

For further reading: 52 Little Lessons From A Christmas Carol by Bob Welch (2015)

To learn more about Alexander Atkins Design please visit www.alexatkinsdesign.com

Twas The Night Before Christmas History and Trivia

atkins-bookshelf-literatureTwo literary works that have had the greatest impact on how we celebrate Christmas today are A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (also known as “The Night Before Christmas,” or “Twas the Night Before Christmas”) by Clement Clarke Moore. Like A Christmas Carol, Twas the Night Before Christmas has never been out of print for over 150 years. The poem endures as a cherished tradition as parents read the poem to the entertainment and delight of their children on Christmas eve as they anxiously await the magical visit of St. Nicholas.

Who Really Wrote Twas the Night Before Christmas?
Although the poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” was originally published anonymously in the Troy Sentinel (New York) on December 23, 1823 (under the title “Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas”), it was eventually attributed to Moore (1779-1863), a professor of Theology and Oriental and Greek Literature at the General Theological Seminary in New York, who had written the poem a year earlier. Moore eventually included the poem in an anthology titled Poems published in 1844.

Because Moore had not taken credit for the poem much earlier, relatives of Henry Livingston, Jr. (a distant relative of Moore’s wife, Catherine), began promoting a story that Livingston, an aspiring poet, had actually written “A Visit” in the early 1800s. The main evidence was their recollection (Elizabeth Clement Brewer Livingston recalled in 1848 or 1861 after reading Moore’s poem, that her father had actually written the poem in 1808); the only manuscript, they claimed, had been destroyed by fire. The claim gained traction when Don Foster, an English literature professor and expert on textual analysis (he worked on the Unabom case), examined writings by Moore and Livingston and concluded (based on the metrical scheme, phraseology, and Dutch references) that it was indeed Livingston who wrote the poem.

The evidence supporting Moore is overwhelming. First there is contemporaneous testimony from colleagues that Moore wrote the original poem (they physically handled and read a handwritten copy). Seth Kaller, a leading expert in American historic documents, who once owned one of the four handwritten copies of the poem, did extensive research and disputed Foster’s analysis point by point. Kaller’s research also turned up earlier writings and poems by Moore that are consistent with the meter and phraseology of “A Visit.” Moreover, Kaller could not find any written evidence to support the Livingston claim; he writes: “By the time [Moore] included it in his own book of poems in 1844, the original publisher and at least seven others had already acknowledged his authorship. Four manuscripts penned by Moore… survive: in The Strong Museum, The Huntington Library, The New-York Historical Society, and one in private hands.”

Why is the Poem Twas the Night Before Christmas so Important?
The poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” is significant because it directly influenced the mythology of Santa Claus in the 19th century: the red suit, the bundle of toys, the eight flying reindeer (and their names) pulling a sleigh, filling the stockings with gifts, the smoking pipe, and entering and exiting the house through the chimney. Prior to Moore’s colorful depiction, Christians were familiar with the legend of the original St. Nicholas (Saint Nicholas of Myra), a Greek bishop who lived in the 4th century (270-343). He was the patron saint of sailors, merchants, children, brewers, unmarried people, students [take a breath here] — and a partridge in a pear tree. Depicted as a tall, slender man, St. Nicholas was known for his charity work — during the evening he would secretly bestow gifts to his parishioners. Moore was also influenced by the depiction of Santa Claus in Washington Irving’s famous work, A History of New York (also known as Knickerbocker’s History of New York) published in 1809. Irving, of course, drew from the Dutch and German lore of Sinterklaas (Santa Claus). Unlike St. Nicholas who was an actual person, Sinterklaas is a fictitious character who is based on St. Nicholas. Sinterklaas was depicted as a willowy bishop who rode a white horse. He carried a large red book that contained children’s names and whether they behaved good or bad the previous year.

From a literary and linguistic point of view, the poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” is significant on two fronts: first, it is one of the best known verses composed by an American poet. Just about everyone knows the line even if they have never read the poem. Second, it is one of the most well-known uses of a clitic — a morpheme that functions like a word but is not spelled or pronounced completely: “twas” is a contraction of the two words “it was.” Because the morpheme is attached before the host word, it is known as a proclitic. Two other common proclitics are the words “c’mon” (a contraction of “come on”) and “y’all (a contraction of “you all”).

What is the Origin of the Poem Twas the Night Before Christmas?
The actual origin of the poem is a fascinating story. The staff of Heritage Auctions, which sold a handwritten and signed copy of Moore’s famous poem for $255,000 on December 9, 1994 summaries the origin of the poem in the manuscript’s listing: “Eliza [Moore’s wife], was roasting turkeys to be given to the less fortunate parishioners from their church, and she found that one additional turkey was needed. Being a good husband and a compassionate man, he set out on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, 1822 to make the requested purchase. Calling for his coachman and sleigh, he set out for the market, which was then in the Bowery section of town. It was cold and snowy in Manhattan and Moore sat back and composed a poem for his children, the meter of which was probably inspired by the sleigh bells… Later that evening, after dinner, he read the quickly composed poem to his family as a surprise present… Written only for the entertainment of his family, Moore probably put his original manuscript in a desk and forgot about it.. [The] next year, a family visitor to the Moore home by the name of Miss Harriet Butler (daughter of the Reverend David Butler of St. Paul’s Church in Troy, New York) was told about it by the Moore children. She copied the poem into her album and later gave a handwritten copy of it to the editor of the local newspaper, The Troy Sentinel where it was printed anonymously on December 23, 1823, with the editor-assigned title “Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas.” The response to the poem was overwhelmingly positive and he reprinted it every year thereafter. Soon it was being printed and reprinted in almanacs, books, and school primers. It was not until 1837 that Moore allowed his name to be published as author and, in 1844, he included it in a published collection of his poetry.”

The Value of the Poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas”
Heritage Auctions sold a handwritten and signed copy of Moore’s famous poem for $255,000 on December 9, 1994. The buyer was Ralph Gadiel, founder of International Resourcing Services Company (Northbrook, IL) that marketed miniature Christmas village houses (Liberty Falls Collection) from 1990 to 1998. Gadiel died of cancer in 1998 and sold his company to another businessman. The Liberty Falls Collection, never regained its popularity and success and was eventually discontinued in 2008. The poem went up for auction again through Heritage Auctions on December 20, 2006. The auction house identified the buyer as a CEO of a media company who wanted to read it to friends and business associates at his holiday party held in his Manhattan apartment.

Twas the Night Before Christmas By the Numbers
Number of lines: 56
Number of words: 500
Meter: two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable (anapestic meter)
Number of reindeer: 8

First written: December 24, 1822
First published in newspaper: 1823

First published in a book: 1844
Poem is first illustrated: 1863
Number of hand-written copies of poem: 4 (3 are owned by museums; one is privately owned)
Value of a hand-written copy: $280,000
Value of a first edition of Poems: $15,000
Number of editions of “The Night Before Christmas” owned by the Carnegie Mellon Hunt Library: 400
Number of results for “The Night Before Christmas” on Amazon: over 6,000
Number of results for “The Night Before Christmas” on Google: 1.86 billion
Number of results for “The Night Before Christmas” on Google Books: 5.7 million

“Account of A Visit From St. Nicholas” as originally published in the Troy Sentinel (New York), on Tuesday, December 23, 1823
The poem, under the title “Account of A From St. Nicholas,” was printed with the following introduction, most likely written by the newspaper’s editor, Oroville Holley. Careful readers may note that in line 22 of the poem, two of the reindeer are named Dunder and Blixem. There are two explanations for this mistake: either the newspaper’s typesetter misread Harriet Butler’s handwriting or perhaps Butler transcribed Moore’s poem incorrectly; Moore used the names “Donner” and “Blitzen.”

“We know not to whom we are indebted for the following description of that unwearied patron of children—that homely, but delightful it personification of parental kindness—Sante Claus, his costume and his equipage, as he goes about visiting the fire-sides of this happy land, laden with Christmas bounties; but, from whomsoever it may have come, we give thanks for it. There is, to our apprehension, a spirit of cordial goodness in it, a playfulness of fancy, and a benevolent alacrity to enter into the feelings and promote the simple pleasures of children, which are altogether charming. We hope our little patrons, both lads and lasses, will accept it as proof of our unfeigned good will toward them —as a token of our warmest wish that they may have many a merry Christmas; that they may long retain their beautiful relish for those unbought, homebred joys, which derive their flavor from filial piety and fraternal love, and which they may be assured are the least alloyed that time can furnish them; and that they may never part with that simplicity of character, which is their own fairest ornament, and for the sake of which they have been pronounced, by authority which none can gainsay, the types of such as shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.”

’Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads,
And Mama in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap—
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprung from the bed to see what was the matter,
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer, and Vixen,
“On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Dunder and Blixem;
“To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
When they-meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys—and St. Nicholas too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:
He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look’d like a peddler just opening his pack:
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jirk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.—

The Night After Christmas by Clement C. Moore
The Library at the General Theological Seminary in New York City owns several copies of the poem, including a first edition of Poems (1844) that is signed by Moore to the the Reverend Samuel Seabury; it reads: “To the Reverend Dr. Seabury, with the respect of his friend the author, July 1844.” The library also owns a copy of “The Night after Christmas” that is a follow-up to the original poem. The “Night after Christmas” was published anonymously after Moore’s death in 1863. The poem appears below:

Twas the night after Christmas, when all through the house
Every soul was in bed, and as still as a mouse;
Those stockings, so lately St. Nicholas’s care;
Were emptied of all that was eatable there;
The darlings had duly been tucked in their beds,
With very dull stomachs and pain in their heads;
I was dozing away in my new cotton cap,
And Fancy was rather far gone in a nap,
When out in the nursery arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my sleep, crying “What is the matter?”

I flew to each bedside, still half in a doze,
Tore open the curtains and threw off the clothes,
While the light of the taper served clearly to show
The piteous plight of those objects below;
But what to the fond father’s eyes should appear
But the little pale face of each little sick dear,
For each pet had crammed itself full as a tick,
And I knew in a moment now felt like old Nick.

Their pulses were rapid, their breathings the same;
What their stomachs rejected I’ll mention by name;
Now turkey, now stuffing, plum pudding of course,
And custards and crullers and cranberry sauce,
Before outraged nature all went to the wall;
Yes — lolypops, flapdoodle, dinner and all;
Like pellets that urchins from pop-guns let fly,
Went figs, nuts and raisins, jam, jelly and pie,
Till each error of diet was brought to my view-
To the shame of mamma, and of Santa Claus too.

I turned from the sight, to my bed room stepped back,
And brought out a phial marked “Pulv. Ipecac,”
When my Nancy exclaimed, for their sufferings shocked her,
“Don’t you think you had better, love, run for the doctor?”
I ran — and was scarcely back under my roof,
When I heard the sharp clatter of old Jalap’s hoof;
I might say that I had hardly turned myself around,
When the doctor came into the room with a bound.

He was covered with mud from his head to his foot,
And the suit he had on was his very worst suit;
He had hardly had time to put that on his back,
And he looked like a Falstaff half muddled with sack.
His eyes how they twinkled! Had the doctor got merry?
His cheeks looked like port and his breath smelt of sherry.
He hadn’t been shaved for a fortnight or so,
And his short chin wasn’t as white as the snow;
But inspecting their tongues in spite of their teeth,
And drawing his watch from his waistcoat beneath,
He felt of each pulse, saying “Each little belly
Must get rid” — here they laughed — “of the rest of that jelly.”

I gazed on each chubby, plump, sick little elf,
And groaned when he said so in spite of myself;
But a wink of his eye when he physicked our Fred,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He didn’t prescribe, but went straightway to work
And dosed all the rest; — gave his trousers a jerk,
And added directions while blowing his nose,
He buttoned his coat, from his chair he arose,
Then jumped in his gig, gave old Jalap a whistle,
And Jalap jumped off as if pricked by a thistle;
But the doctor exclaimed, ere he drove out of sight.
“They’ll be well by to-morrow; good night Jones, good night.”

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: The Story Behind “The Night Before Christmas”
The Origin of the Name Scrooge
The Inspiration for Dickens’s A Christmas Carol
What is a First Edition of A Christmas Carol Worth?
The Story Behind “Twas The Night Before Christmas”
Adventures in Linguistics: Clitic

Words invented by Dickens

For further reading: Author Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous by Don Foster, Henry Holt (2000)
The World Encyclopedia of Christmas by Gerry Bowler, McClelland & Stewart (2000).
Diedrich Knickerbocker’s History of New York by Washington Irving, Easton Press (1980).
http://iment.com/maida//familytree/henry/xmas/poemvariants/troysentinel1823.htm
http://www.cmu.edu/cmnews/031217/031217_nitebefore.html
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/17382/17382-h/17382-h.htm
theconversation.com/twas-the-night-before-christmas-helped-make-the-modern-santa-and-led-to-a-literary-whodunit-171637
http://www.americanantiquarian.org/Exhibitions/Christmas/nightafter.htm
http://www.sethkaller.com/about/educational/tnbc/
historical.ha.com/itm/autographs/authors/handwritten-and-signed-fair-copy-of-clement-clarke-moore-s-twas-the-night-before-christmas-the-only-one-in-private-hands-/a/629-25885.s
https://apnews.com/article/efdeb698d67ff9dbf0074e7410f1665e
https://www.telegram.com/story/news/local/north/2006/12/21/1860-christmas-poem-twas-sold/52998978007/
https://www.sacred-texts.com/etc/xmas/vsn/vsn01.htm

To learn more about Alexander Atkins Design please visit www.alexatkinsdesign.com

The Atkins Bookshelf Literary Christmas Price Index: 2022

alex atkins bookshelf books

Back in 1984, the PNC Bank (a bank based in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania) developed the Christmas Price Index that totals the cost of all the gifts mentioned in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” as a flippant economic indicator. In 1984, the Christmas Price Index was $12,623.10; more than three decades later, in 2022, it reached $45,523.27 — an increase of $4,317.69 (10.5%) from 2021 (CPI was $41,205.58). In 2022, the most expensive gift is the ten lords-a-leaping that costs $13,980. On the other hand, the cheapest gift is the eight maids-a-milking that costs $58 (due to the low federal minimum wage).

Despite their symbolism, the twelve gifts of Christmas are not only extremely random, they are more of a nuisance than carefully-selected gifts that you would actually cherish. As if the holidays are not stressful enough, imagine all those animals running and flying about helter-skelter, defecating all over your clean carpets — not to mention the nonstop, grating sound of drummers drumming and pipers piping pushing you toward the brink of a mental breakdown. Truly, no book lover would be happy with these gifts. Bah humbug! Therefore, I introduced the Atkins Bookshelf Literary Christmas Price Index in 2014 that would be far more interesting and appreciated by bibliophiles. The Atkins Bookshelf Literary Christmas Price Index replaces all those unwanted mess-making animals and clamorous performers with first editions of cherished classic Christmas books. The cost of current first editions are determined by the latest data available from Abe Books, the leading online antiquarian bookseller.

For 2022, the Atkins Bookshelf Literary Christmas Price Index is $150,485 (shipping and tax are not included), a whopping increase of $41,860 (about 39%) from last year ($108,625). The biggest hit to your wallet remains — by a very large margin, Charles Dickens’ very coveted and valuable first edition of one of the most well-known literary classics, A Christmas Carol valued at $75,000 (a price unchanged from last year) — a valuation that would be sure to warm Scrooge’s heart. The second most expensive Christmas book, coming in at $15,000 (the price is also unchanged from last year), is Clement C. Moore’s classic poem, “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (more commonly known at “The Night Before Christmas”) that has largely influenced how Santa Claus is depicted. The poem was included in a collection of Moore’s poems in 1844, a year after the publication of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Below are the individual costs of the books that make up the

A Christmas Carol (1843) by Charles Dickens: $75,000

A Visit from St. Nicholas (included in Poems, 1844) by Clement C. Moore: $15,000

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1957) by Dr. Seuss: $8,800

A Christmas Memory (1966) by Truman Capote: $35,000

The Polar Express (1985) by Chris Van Allsburg: $2,250

The Nutcracker (1984 edition) by E. T. A. Hoffman: $1,250

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) by Valentine Davies: $1,800

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (1902) by L. Frank Baum: $5,635

The Greatest Gift (1944) by Philip Van Doren Stern: $3,000

In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash (A Christmas Story) by Jean Shepherd: $250

Old Christmas: from the Sketchbook of Washington Irving (1876) by Washington Irving: $1,250

The Gift of the Magi (included in The Four Million, 1905) by O. Henry: $1,250

Happy Holidays!

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: The Origin of the Name Scrooge
The Inspiration for Dickens’s A Christmas Carol
What is a First Edition of A Christmas Carol Worth?
The Story Behind “The Night Before Christmas”

Words invented by Dickens
Why Read Dickens?

For further reading: https://www.pnc.com/en/about-pnc/topics/pnc-christmas-price-index.html

To learn more about Alexander Atkins Design please visit www.alexatkinsdesign.com

 

The Antiquarian Bookseller’s Catalog: December 2022

alex atkins bookshelf booksAn antiquarian bookseller’s catalog is a bibliophile’s literary treasure trove between two covers. Open any catalog, and you will find beautiful, sought-after gems — rare first editions, inscribed copies, manuscripts, letters, screenplays, and author portraits — from some of the most famous authors in the world.

Ken Lopez has been an antiquarian bookseller since the early 1970s. Formerly the president of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, Lopez focuses on first editions, literature of the 1960s, the Vietnam War, nature writing, and Native American literature. He is the quintessential bibliophile — as passionate about discovering rare books as he is about preserving literary history. Bibliophiles salivate as they browse through his comprehensive catalogs, filled with fascinating and valuable literary treasures. Here are some highlights from his most recent catalog, Modern Literature No. 173 (December 2022):

Light in August by William Faulkner (1932), in a custom clamshell: $15,000

Turn About by William Faulkner (1939), one of only five copies of the first separate edition of Faulkner’s short story of WWI that was first published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1932: $15,000

The Mansion by William Faulkner (1959), Limited edition (91 of 500) signed by the author: $1,500

Privacy by Richard Ford (1999), a fine press limited edition (1 of 35), in a clamshell case: $5,000

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1971), first American edition: $125

Stepppenwolf by Hermann Hesse (1970), the uncorrected proof copy of a reissue of Hesse’s novels, first published in 1929: $250

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

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For further reading: lopezbooks.com

What Do You Call That Wonderful Old Book Smell?

alex atkins bookshelf booksA fews decades ago, in a top ten list of holiday gifts to give or receive, books were the number one gift. (Today, according to Statista, the top five gifts for consumers are: clothing, toys/hobbies, gift cards, and food.) One of the most cherished memories of those earlier times was visiting bookstores, especially used bookstores where holiday shoppers could delight in that wonderful, enchanting old book or bookstore smell. Any book lover knows what I am talking about — that initial blissful sight of countless stacks of books enriched by the aroma of old books. It’s hard to explain exactly — a bit of mustiness mixed with a hint of vanilla. A team of British chemists that tested the air surrounding old books using electronic sniffing equipment described the bouquet more precisely: “A combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness.” Bingo. This is of course, a very different smell than walking into a bookstore that sells new books. There, the bibliophile immediately detects the “new book smell.” So what exactly creates the unique scent of old books?

The scent of a book is created by four main factors: paper (and the chemicals used to make it), ink, adhesives used to bind the book, and to a minor degree environment (the smells that paper absorbs during its lifetime). Let’s start with the paper. Paper is made of would pulp that is processed with many chemicals during its manufacturing — sodium hydroxide, hydrogen peroxide, alkyl ketene dimer (AKD), among several others. These chemicals, through their presence or reactions, contribute to the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which produce unique odors. The same thing happens with the chemicals found in the ink to print the book (e.g., AKD and hydrogen peroxide) and the adhesives used to bind the book (e.g., vinyl acetate ethylene). Since new books have not absorbed much of their environment (e.g., cigar smoke, coffee, mold etc.), this is not a critical factor for new books.

When it comes to old books, things become far more interesting, chemically speaking. The most salient factor in “old book smell” is the chemical breakdown of compounds within paper due to the presence of acids in the environment. Researchers at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage at University College London were interested in studying the smells that are a part of our cultural heritage. The scientists write: “We don’t know much about the smells of the past. Yet, odors play an important role in our daily lives: they affect us emotionally, psychologically and physically, and influence the way we engage with history. Can this lead us to consider certain smells as cultural heritage? And if so, what would be the processes for the identification, protection and conservation of those heritage smells?… The smell of historic paper was chosen as the case study, based on its well-recognized cultural significance and available research.” The scientists found that the breakdown of cellulose and lignin produces eight classes of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) depicted in their “Historic Book Odor Wheel” that shows these eight unique scents: smoky/burnt; fragrant/fruity/vegetable/flowers; medicinal; fishy/rancid; chemical/hydrocarbons; earthy/musty/moldy; sweet/spicy; grassy/woody. More specifically, the researchers identified the unique aromas of these key VOCs: benzaldehyde creates an almond scent; vanillin creates a vanilla scent; 2-ethyl hexanol creates a slightly floral scent; and ethyl benzene and toluene create sweet scents. In fact, some compounds, like furfural (which smells like almond), can even be used to determine the age of a book. Unlike a new book, an old book’s paper has had time to absorb some environmental odors (e.g., smoke, coffee, etc.) that can add to its rich aroma.

A rich, nuanced, and evocative aroma like this deserves a proper name, doesn’t it? Enter Dr. Oliver Tearle, an English professor at Loughborough University (UK) and author of The Secret Library: A Book-Lover’s Journey Through the Curiosities of History. Teale, a true bibliophile and scholar, introduces us to the word “bibliosmia” derived from the Greek words biblio (meaning “book”) and osme (meaning “scent, smell, or odor”). He writes, “Clearly ‘bibliosmia’ names something which people feel is an important part of the reading experience, and something which Bradbury’s ‘burned fuel’ cannot provide. In the supposed age of the e-book, bibliosmia is one of the key weapons of the resistance.” By ‘burned fuel,’ Teale is referring to an oft-quoted remark made by Ray Bradbury at BookExpo America (New York City, May 2008): “There is no future for e-books, because they are not books. E-books smell like burned fuel.” Ironically, this is after his publisher, Simon & Schuster, announced that they would be making thousands of titles available for the Kindle — including Fahrenheit 451. Awkward.

Coming up with a word for the smell of old books was also the subject of a discussion on Facebook post back in 2017. A contributor named Arun Prasad (writing with the user name “The Bookoholics”) wrote: “The most commonly used word to describe the smell of old books is ‘musty.’ However, there’s no defined word yet. A bibliophile refers to the smell [of old books] by the word ‘bibliochor.'” Prasad explains that the word was inspired by the beautiful word petrichor (introduced by Australian mineral chemists in 1964; petrichor is defined as the distinctive smell associated with the first rainfall after a long dry period), a word that combines the Greek word-forming element biblio- (meaning “book,” derived from biblion meaning “paper, scroll”) and from the Modern Latin word ichor or Greek word ikhor (meaning “ethereal fluid that flows in the veins of the gods.”) So now, dear reader, you have beautiful, wonderful words to define that pleasant, intoxicating smell of old books: bibliosmia and bibliochor.

This invites the question: if they can make “new car smell” sprays, why can’t they make “old book smell” sprays? No company has actually tried and succeeded; it remains the elusive Holy Grail of the burgeoning ebook market. In an article for The Guardian titled “Old Spines — Why We Love the Smell of Secondhand Books,” David Shariatmadari introduces two perfumes that evoke the smell of a used bookstore: Paperback (made by Demeter) and Dzing! (made by L’Artisan Parfumeur). in their fascinating book, Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, perfume critics Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez discuss how lignin, a polymer that stops trees from drooping and is chemically related to the molecule vanillin, is the key ingredient in Dzing! that evokes that alluring old book smell. The authors elaborate, “When made into paper and stored for years, it breaks down and smells good. Which is how divine providence has arranged for secondhand bookstores to smell like good-quality vanilla absolute, subliminally stoking a hunger for knowledge in all of us.” 

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

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Profile of a Book Lover: Rebecca Goldstein

For further reading: interestingliterature.com/2017/07/on-the-science-of-bibliosmia-that-enticing-book-smell/
theguardian.com/fashion/shortcuts/2015/nov/25/old-spines-why-love-smell-of-secondhand-books-perfume
http://www.colorado.edu/libraries/2020/05/01/science-behind-smell-books-explained-preservation
doaj.org/article/891aa13d1caa455ea8703ea4953ecce8
http://www.gordostuff.com/2008/06/do-e-books-smell-like-burned-fuel.html
http://www.statista.com/statistics/246589/holiday-gifts-to-be-bought-by-consumers-by-item/
m.facebook.com/thebookoholics/photos/the-most-commonly-used-word-to-describe-the-smell-of-old-books-is-musty-however-/1383423145109246/

To learn more about Alexander Atkins Design please visit www.alexatkinsdesign.com

The Best Gift for Book Lovers: A Christmas Book Advent Calendar

alex atkins bookshelf christmasOne of the most popular decorations in a home during the Christmas holiday season is the advent calendar. Advent calendars were introduced in Germany in the late 19th century. Since the birth of Christ is the most important date in the calendar for Christians, the advent calendar (from the Latin adventus, meaning “a coming or arrival”; in Church Latin it means “the coming of the Savior”) counts down the days until Christmas. Lutherans began by making chalk marks on their doors from December first to the 24th. There are two claims for the first advent calendar that bears some resemblance to the ones we see today: one claim is that protestant bookshop owner in Hamburg produced the first advent calendar. The other claim is that the mother of Gerhard Lang made the first advent calendar, cutting squares to reveal small sweets. Soon after, she added small doors adorned with pictures. By 1930, printers began printing advent calendars, often using biblical verses behind each door.

But a book lover is not that interested in sweets or biblical verses, or even sweet biblical verses. Moreover, everyone knows how challenging it is to shop for a book lover. Holiday shoppers meet the Christmas Book Advent Calendar: a basket (or box) filled with 25 gift-wrapped books about Christmas. Here are 25 classic literary works, modern novels, and anthologies that celebrate the spirit of Christmas, culminating in the greatest Christmas story of all time — Charles Dickens’ timeless novella, A Christmas Carol that has never been out of print. All these books are easy to find in paperback, hardback, or elegant leather-bound editions. Book lovers will be thrilled to count down to Christmas with these literary classics. Happy Holidays!

1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
2. Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien
3. A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
4. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
5. The Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffmann
6. Old Christmas by Washington Irving
7. The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern
8. A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas
9. Christmas at Thompson Hall by Anthony Trollope
10. The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum
11. A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd
12. Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies
13. Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
14. Silent Night: The Story of the WWI Christmas Truce by Stanley Weintraub
15. The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan
16. The Christmas Shoes by Donna VanLiere
17. The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans
18. The Penguin Book of Christmas Stories by Jessica Harrison
19. A Classic Christmas: A Collection of Timeless Stories and Poems by editors of Thomas Nelson
20. The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories by Tara Moore
21. A Treasury of African American Christmas Stories by Bettye Collier-Thomas
22. Christmas Stories (Everyman’s Pocket Classics) by Diana Secker Tesdell
23. The Autobiography of Santa Claus by Jeff Guinn
24. The Night Before Christmas by Nikolai Gogol
25. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: The Origin of the Name Scrooge
The Inspiration for Dickens’s A Christmas Carol
What is a First Edition of A Christmas Carol Worth?
The Story Behind “The Night Before Christmas”
Words invented by Dickens
Why Read Dickens?

To learn more about Alexander Atkins Design please visit www.alexatkinsdesign.com

How Every Book Lover Can Own Their Own Bookstore

alex atkins bookshelf booksAt one time or another, every book lover has thought about owning their own bookstore. What a dream job it would be — imagine opening up the bookstore’s front door each day and being greeted with that wonderful smell of books and walking through the neatly arranged bookshelves, their ornate covers beckoning “read me!” And each day you meet kindred souls, bibliophiles and ardent readers, so that you can share your passion for reading and collecting books. How fulfilling it would be to recommend books that will be meaningful and be treasured by the customers who visit your quaint bookstore.

I know what you are thinking. How can a every book lover own his or her own bookstore. Isn’t it really expensive to open a bookstore? Interestingly, bookstores have lower starting costs than other businesses. The biggest expense, as you can imagine, are rent and initial inventory. Consider that the average bookstore in the United States is 3,000 square feet; micro-bookstores and pop-up bookstores, on the other hand, use very little space: from 100 to 500 square feet. In general, opening a small bookstore (assuming the 3,000-square-feet size) will cost between $60,000 to $112,000. Opening a large bookstore will cost more than $400,00 to open. After rent and inventory, the largest expenses are furniture (sales counter and bookshelves), an inventory management system, and marketing expenses (website, signage, advertising, etc.). In an article for Forbes titled “How to Open an Independent Bookstore,” Rachel Bussel interviewed several people who had opened bookstores in 2018. One bookstore owner revealed that it took about ten months of work (writing a business plan, obtaining loan, searching retail locations, ordering books, etc.) to open up a bookstore.atkins-bookshelf-bookstoreBut what if I told you that for less than $50 you can own your bookstore? That’s right — you read that correctly: for under $50. Let me introduce you to an innovative company called Rolife. Rolife is a sub-brand of Robotime Technology (Suzhou) Co,. Ltd, based in Beijing, China, which is a toy company that designs and manufactures do-it-yourself wooden puzzles and educational toys for kids and adults. One of their products is the Miniature Bookstore that retails for about $40. The wooden model is built to 1:24 scale; when completed it will be about 7 x 8 x 9 inches. Unlike a real brick-and-mortar bookstore that will take almost a year to get off the ground, this miniature bookstore will take you about 15 hours to build. The bookstore includes bookshelves, shelf ladder, table, wingback reading chair, cabinets, wall decorations, signs — and of course, lots of books. The best part of this kit is that you can copy the kit’s photo or customize any of the elements to align with your dream bookstore. The miniature bookstore even features a working ceiling lamp which uses battery-powered LED lights. The kit materials include wood parts, cloth, printed paper, and metal fittings. In order to build the kit, you will definitely need some tools. Fortunately, the helpful folks at Rolife include tweezers and a paintbrush; however you will have to supply the glue and AAA batteries.

The miniature bookstore can be purchased on Amazon here.

Rolife also makes a smaller and simpler bookstore, called the Book Nook – Free Time Bookshop, seen here.

other kits that booklover’s would appreciate like the Book Nook – Sunshine Town, seen here.

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

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Profile of a Book Lover: Rebecca Goldstein

To learn more about Alexander Atkins Design please visit www.alexatkinsdesign.com

World Records in Books and Publishing

alex atkins bookshelf booksGuinness World Records, the best-selling authoritative guide to the world records of extremes of the natural world and human feats, was hatched from a disagreement at a pub. Sir Hugh Beaver (18090-1967), managing director of the Guinness Brewery, had attended a hunting trip in County Wexford, located in the southeast region of Ireland, on November 1951. Beaver missed a shot at a golden plover which led to a spirited debate at the pub that evening: what was the fastest game bird in Europe — the golden plover or the red grouse? Because the Internet and Siri had not been invented, they had to go old school and consult reference books; however, with great frustration, they realized that a book with this specific type of information simply did not exist. Indeed, necessity is the mother of invention — Beaver realized that a book that contained information about the superlatives (the fastest, the largest, the tallest, etc.) could be quite useful. Subsequently, Beaver was introduced to twin brothers Norris and Ross McWhirter who ran the London-based Fact and Figure Agency that provided statistics and facts to newspapers. The Guinness Book of Records was published in August 1954. Originally, the 198-page book was given to pub patrons (at the time, there were more than 81,400 pubs in Britain and Ireland) as a way to promote the Guinness brand and serve as a really thick coaster; however, the book was so popular, it was republished as The Guinness Book of Records in October 1955 and sold more than 100,000 copies. To date (the 2023 edition is now in its 69th year of publication) the reference book has sold more than 100 million copies in 100 countries in over 35 languages. 

Incidentally it took the editors 35 years to answer the question that was the catalyst for the book of records. The 36th edition, published in 1989, noted: “Britain’s fastest game bird is the Red Grouse (Lagopus l. scoticus) which, in still air, has recorded burst speeds up to 92.8-100.8 km/h 58-63 mph over very short distances. Air speeds up to 112 km/h 70 mph have been claimed for the Golden plover (Pluvialis apricaria) when flushed, but it is extremely doubtful whether this rapid-flying bird can exceed 80-88 km/h 50-55 mph – even in an emergency.”

The Guinness World Records is updated each year and published in October to capture holiday sales. Each edition contains new world records (and crtieria for inclusion which may change from year to year) and a selection of records from the Guinness World Records database that contains over 53,00 verified records. For the recently published 2023 edition, the editors presented the following world records in the realm of publishing and books. Here are some highlights:

Best-selling book
The Holy Bible: 5 to 7 billion copies (according to the British and Foreign Bible Society, 2021). According to Wordsrated, a non-commercial international research data group, there are about 6 million copies of the Bible. Each year, there are more than 100 million Bibles printed worldwide. In the U.S. alone, 20 million Bibles are sold each year, generating annual sales revenue of more about $430 million. Internationally, there are more than 80,000 different versions of the Bible sold,

First Library
The Royal Library of Ashurbanipal in Nineveh (now northern Iraq, near Mosul) was established between 668 and 631 BC. The library was named after the last great king of the Assyrian Empire, Ashurbanipal, who was a great martial commander, but also an intellectual and passionate collector of texts. Not surprisingly, he stocked his library by looting the cities that his armies conquered. The library contained 30,000 clay tablets and fragments inscribed with cuneiform writing from the 7th century BC. One of its most famous texts was the Epic of Gilgamesh, a masterpiece of ancient Babylonian poetry. One of the tablets of the Epic of Gilgamesh is on display at the British Museum, in London, England.

Oldest Continuously Operating Library
The library of St. Catherine’s Monastery, located at the foot of Mount Sinai, Egypt, established between 527 and 565 AD.

Largest Library
The U.S. Library of Congress, located in Washington, D.C., contains more than 173 million items, including 41 million books and print materials. The collection is spread across more than 838 miles of shelves. The second largest library is the British Library, located in Lodon, England, with more than 170 million items.

Most Successful Book Thief
American Stephen Carrie Blumberg (born 1948), known as the Book Bandit, stole more than 23,600 rare books worth more than $5.3 million (about $11 million in today’s dollars) from 268 different libraries from U.S. and Canada between 1970 and 1990. Unlike most thieves who steal to sell for a profit, Blumberg stole books to build his own reference library. After he was finally apprehended (thanks to a tip from a former accomplice who wanted to collect a $56,000 bounty), Blumberg was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to 71 months in prison and a $200,000 fine.

Oldest Book Printed Using Movable Metal Type
The Buljo jikji simche yojeol, simply known as Jikji, is a Korean collection of Zen Buddhist teachings. The book, consisting of two volumes, was printed during the Goryeo Dynasty in 1377 with movable metal type — 78 years before the Johannes Gutenberg printed the 42-Line Bible from 1452 to 1455. Today, only the last volume survives and is kept at the National Library of France, located in Paris France.

First Audiobook
Typhoon by Joseph Conrad, sold as a set of four LP records in 1935.

First ebook
The U.S. Declaration of Independence as a plain-text file uploaded to the ARPAnet by Michael Hart on July 4, 1971. It became the foundation of the Project Gutenberg public domain ebook service.

Most Expensive Printed Book Sold at Auction
The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre, commonly known as the Bay Psalm Book, was the first book ever printed in British North America by the residents of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1640 — 20 years after the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth, Massachusetts. The book, coveted by bibliophiles, was purchased by David Rubenstein for $14.16 million. It is extremely rare — of the 1,700 of the books of hymns printed, only 11 copies survive today; however only five of those are complete.

Most Expensive Book Sold Privately
The Sherbone Missal, a beautifully illuminated medieval manuscript purchased for $24.88 million in 1998 by the British Library.

Largest Trade Publisher
Penguin Random House posted revenues of $3.78 billion for the 2019 fiscal year. It publishes more than 70,000 digital and 15,000 print titles each year.

Best-Selling Fiction Book
Verified sales data has not been available for books before the early 2000s. The books that have sold more than 100 million copies include: The Hobbitt (1937) by J R R Tolkien, The Little Prince (1943) by Antoine de Saint-Exupery; and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997) by J. K. Rowling.
The best-selling fiction book with verified sales data is Fifty Shades of Grey (2011) by E L James with global sales of more than 16.9 million copies (as of November 2021).

Most Downloaded Digital Classic Book from Project Gutenberg
Frankesntein; Or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley: 86,000 downloads per month

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: 57,000 downloads per month

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens: 39,000 downloads per month

Largest Collection of Comic Books
Bob Bretall (Mission Viejo, CA) owns more than 101,822 unique comics.

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

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Confessions of a Book Scout: Old Bookstore Have Been the Hunting Grounds of My Life
Confessions of a Bibliophile: J. Kevin Graffagnino
The Man Who Launched 75,000 Libraries
Most Expensive American Book
The World’s Most Expensive Book
Words Invented by Book Lovers
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The Library is the DNA of Our Civilization

For further reading: Guinness World Records: 2023
guinnessworldrecords.com/about-us/our-story
guinness.book-of-records.info/history.html
wordsrated.com/bible-sales-statistics/

To learn more about Alexander Atkins Design please visit www.alexatkinsdesign.com

Little Books, Big Ideas: African Proverbs

alex atkins bookshelf booksIf you visit a used bookstore, you might stumble upon an often neglected section: miniature or compact books. A miniature book generally measures 3 by 4 inches; some are even smaller: 1.5 inches by 2 inches. A compact book, also known as an octodecimo in American Library Association lingo, generally measures 4 x 6 inches. Unfortunately, these types of books are often dismissed due to their small size. “If they are so small, how can they possibly matter?” you think to yourself. Astute book lovers, however, know that even little books can contain big ideas — profound thoughts that can change your life.

In my periodic visits to used bookstores, I recently came across such a thought-provoking little book: African Wisdom edited by Mary Rodarte and published by Andrews McMeel Publishing in 2003. In the introduction, Rodarte notes: “African proverbs do the work of a school lesson and a story in one. They entertain with humor and wit and open a window onto the social mores and values of a people. And unlike a complicated lesson, they are simple to remember and to pass on. As you read the proverbs… you will become a witness to a chain of humanity that began long before you and will stretch on long after you are gone.” Here are some notable African proverbs:

A friend is like a source of water during a long voyage.

Children are the reward of life.

There are three friends in life: courage, sense, and insight.

Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.

A village without the elderly is like a tree without roots.

The mouth does not forget what it tasted one time.

The thorn will come out from where it went in.

A stone in the water does not understand how thirsty the hill is.

Before healing others, heal yourself.

The voyager’s path is marked by the stars not the sand dunes.

If you have a lot, give some of your possessions; if you have little, give some of your heart.

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

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To learn more about Alexander Atkins Design please visit www.alexatkinsdesign.com

The Gift of 11 Cents that Made A Lifelong Reader

alex atkins bookshelf booksMost people who love books and reading can instantly recall from their youth a single book that opened the door to literature and changed their lives forever. One is reminded of Carl Jung’s concept of collective unconscious when one observes the deep sense of wonder and enchantment that washes over a reader’s face as they share this “literature discovery” story. You feel instantly connected to one another in this vast, universal community of fellow travelers along the seemingly infinite byways of literature… “wandering with our heroes and poets.”

I recently came across such a story in American historian Will Durant’s (1885-1981) fascinating autobiography titled Transition: A Mental Autobiography (1955). Durant and his wife, Ariel, are best known for their monumental work, The Story of Civilization. Written over four decades, encompassing 11 volumes, the series presents the compelling history of eastern and western civilizations. The series was a bestseller (2 million copies in nine languages) and the Durants won a Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1968. What is remarkable about Durant’s “literature discovery” story is that it was the serendipitous conjunction of two experiences: encouragement from a friend and the kindness of a stranger — specifically a gift of 11 cents — that helped open the door to become a lifelong reader. Durant writes: 

“It was Irene [a friend from school] who introduced me to literature… One day I saw in Irene’s hand a book called Pickwick Papers. I opened it and was at once allured by the abundance of conversation it contained; here was a lively book and a juicy one and it was so immense-seven or eight hundred pages; surely the author had been paid by the page, and had had an extravagant wife. I thought it would be quite a feat to read such a volume through; perhaps I should be the first boy in the world to accomplish it. But what moved me most was that it was Irene’s book; it must be good if her soft hands had touched it and her bright eyes had traveled along its lines. I begged it from her, and that night, against the protest of my parents, I burned the midnight oil over the adventures of the Pickwick Club, and Sam Weller, and the fat boy who always fell asleep. O happy and undisillusioned Victorians! maligned and misunderstood, what a delight it must have been to watch the creation, week after week, of that incom­parable imaginary world! What a delight it was even now, across a thousand obscuring differences of land and speech and time, to know this vivacious style, this inexhaustible drama, this endless chain of existing incident! I read every word and marvelled that I had lived twelve years without discovering the book. I returned it to Irene, and begged her for more. 

“It’s all I have by Dickens,” she said, sorrowfully. “But Papa says he’ll get me David Copperfield for Christmas.” 

Christmas was several months away; I could not wait that long. Within a week I had managed to accumulate fourteen pennies; and armed with them I walked the three miles be­tween our new home in Arlington and Dressel’s book-store in Newark. I asked the grouchy old gentleman behind the counter for the cheapest edition of David Copperfield. He went into a rear room, worked his way precariously among stacks of brokendown books, and emerged with a copy that might have rivaled Ulysses’ wanderings. 

“I will let this go for twenty five cents,” he said, munifi­cently.

My heart was broke temporarily.

“But mister,” I said, with a politeness which I seldom achieved, “I’ve only got fourteen cents.” 

He was unmoved, and turned away to another customer. I looked longingly at the book, and helplessly at space in general. Then a tall handsome gentleman, whom I conceived as a millionaire philosopher but who turned out to be a butcher, came over to me and put his arm around my shoul­der.

“What do you want, sonny?” he said.

David Copperfield,” I replied. 

“How much do you need?” 

“Eleven cents.”

“Is that all? Here you are; when you get rich you can pay me back.” 

Fortunately, he is dead now. But I was so grateful that I could not speak. I accepted the eleven cents as a gift from God, and walked out of the store in a daze. I trudged home in ecstasy over the kindness of Providence, the goodness of human nature, and the pleasures in store for me in the 860 pages which I carried under my arm. 

From that day I became a tremendous reader. When every­body else in the house was asleep I would read on despite a thousand admonitions about the injury I was doing to my health, and the cost of gas. It is true that I lost something of my taste for sport, and more of my skill in it… But what a new universe I had found! I no longer lived in prosaic New Jersey; I wandered around the world with my heroes and my poets.”

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

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Clever T-Shirt Slogans for Booklovers

alex atkins bookshelf booksDaedalus Books, located in Hudson, Ohio, was founded in 1980. The company sells remaindered books, music, and video via catalogs and their website. Since 2018, Daedalus has expanded its retail division that focuses on book-related products that now brings in 60% of its revenues. Their catalogs often feature clever t-shirt designs promoting books, reading, and book collecting that any book lover would love. Here are some of the slogans, often accompanied by stylized artwork, that are printed on cotton t-shirts of various colors:

My workout is reading in bed until my arms hurt

When I think about books… I touch my shelf

Single, vaccinated, loves to read. Vax card and reading list available upon request.

It’s not hoarding if its books

Better to have a book and no time to read than time to read and no book

Less is more — unless it’s books

I have no shelf control

Every book you’ve ever read is just a combination of 26 letters

One does not stop buying books just because one has run out of space

Dinosaurs didn’t read books… and look what happened to them

I’ll stop buying books when they grow wings and fly

Better to have a book and no time to read than time to read and no book

Stop and smell the pages

Go with your Gutenberg

Dinosaurs didn’t read books… and look what happened to them

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it is too dark to read. – Groucho Marx

Professional bookworm

The following t-shirts are for word lovers:

Team Oxford comma

Synonym Rolls. [Image of cinnamon rolls] Same as Grammar used to make.

I swallowed a whole dictionary. Now I have thesaurus throat ever.

Bad puns are how eye roll

Which is your favorite? What other slogans related to books have you seen?

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

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Little Books, Big Ideas: Proverbs From Around the World

alex atkins bookshelf booksIf you ever travel to Columbus, Ohio, it is worth taking a short trip from the airport to the German Village, just south of the city’s downtown. The neighborhood was settled by a large German immigration that occurred in 1830. The Germans not only brought their culture, they also brought their impressive brick-laying skills — remarkably, the streets, sidewalks, houses, and buildings are all made of brick. In the heart of the German Village you will discover a wonderful bookstore called, appropriately, The Book Loft of German Village. Residing in a pre-Civil War building, the bookstore is an actual labyrinth featuring 32 different rooms on several different levels. Each room, covering a specific subject, is lined with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. If you are a bibliophile, it’s as close to the paradise that Jorge Luis Borges imagined.

In any event, it is while perusing the splendid bookshelves of The Book Loft of German Village that I came across an intriguing little book, Proverbs From Around the World: A Collection of Timeless Wisdom, Wit, Sayings & Advice by Gerd de Ley. In the introduction, the author writes, “Our world is massive. With a scope well beyond what most people can fathom, and certainly too large to be experienced in full during one lifetime, the Earth is full of the experiences and collected wisdom of billions upon billions of people.” It is from this global, multi-generational tapestry of wisdom, that de Ley selects some of history’s most enduring proverbs to share with the reader. Here are some examples (country of origin in parenthesis):

There are three friends in this world: courage, sense, and insight. (Africa)

He who seeks a friend without a fault will not find one. (Armenia)

In times of test, the family is best. (Burma)

To a man wine is like water is to the boat; it can carry him or guzzle him up. (Thailand)

There are forty kinds of lunacy, but only one kind of common sense. (Africa)

To talk without thinking is to shoot without aiming. (England)

When you begin to understand the situation, you know you must have been ill-informed. (Java)

Don’t look where you fell, but where you slipped. (Liberia)

Words are but dwarfs, examples are giants. (Luxembourg)

The eleventh commandment: thou shall not contradict. (Mexico)

If age and experience came at birth, we would have neither youth nor mirth. (Russia)

Wisdom does not come overnight. (Somalia)

A new broom sweeps clean, but an old broom knows the corners. (Virgin Islands)

If you are too modest you will go hungry. (Zaire)

If you don’t know where you are going, look back to where you’ve come from. (Arabia)

Life is half-spent before one knows what life is. (France)

The devil likes to hide behind a cross. (Ukraine)

If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking. (India)

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

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Book Lending and Marks of Ownership

alex atkins bookshelf booksOne of the most famous quotations about lending books is by French author and man of letters, Anatole France (born François-Anatole Thibault, 1844-1924), who advised, “Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other folks have lent me.” [from La Vie litteraire (The Literary Life), 1888]. So how did France know that these weren’t his books? They must have had obvious marks of ownerships.

So how do book owners mark their books? The most common way of marking a book is by writing or signing one’s name in the book, typically the paste down end paper or the free end paper. Soon after Gutenberg introduced printed books in the mid 15th century, book owners began using bookplates, also known as “Ex Libris” (from the Latin, “From the Library”) labels. Some of these were very ornate with heraldic elements and fancy borders. Another common method is a blind emboss stamp indicating the owner’s name in the middle of a circular pattern. Another variation is the ink stamp, often used by libraries. Perhaps one of the crudest methods, often used by high school and college students, is to write one’s last name in large block letters on all three sides of the text block. It makes quite a bold statement: “this book is mine — so don’t even think of stealing it!”

There are purists who believe that a book should never be marked or written in; but there are many who believe that an elegant bookplate denotes that the owner is an important part of a book’s history, or using bibliophile lingo, it’s provenance.

How do you mark your books?

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

Signs at Indie Bookstores: Paris, France

alex atkins bookshelf quotationsIf you happen to visit Paris, France, you might come across one of Europe’s most famous bookshops: Shakespeare and Company. The original Shakespeare and Company, located on the Left Bank, was founded by Sylvia Beach in 1919. Beach’s bookshop closed in 1941. The existing Shakespeare and Company, also on the Left Bank (adjacent to Place Saint-Michel), was founded in 1951 by George Whitman, an ex-serviceman. Whitman’s bookshop, however, was initially named “Le Mistral.” In 1964, on the 40th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth, Whitman changed the name to Shakespeare and Company as a tribute to Beach’s store (before she had died, Beach agreed to allow Whitman to use that name). The bookshop became one of the favorite hangouts of bohemian culture, including Beat Generation writers like William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg as well as other famous authors like Bertolt Brecht, James Baldwin, Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Peter Matthiessen, and William Saroyan.

As you wander among the tightly-packed bookshelves in the store, that was once a 16th-century monastery, you will come across several signs, including on above the reading library: “Be Not Inhospitable to Strangers Lest They Be Angels in Disguise.” As you venture through the stacks you will come across a quote by American author Rebecca Solnit, a champion of women’s, human, and environmental rights. She famously coined the term “mansplaining” in her collection of essays titled Men Explain Things to Me, published in 2014. The quote that appears in the store is from the book Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities (2016): “Inside the word ’emergency’ is ’emerge’; from an emergency new things come forth. The old certainties are crumbling fast, but danger and possibility are sisters.”

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

Fascinating Factoids that Fell Out of an Old Book

alex atkins bookshelf booksA common observation that you will find among book collectors is the eureka moment when something fascinating falls from a used book that was orphaned at a used book shop or library donation drop box. Quite often, booksellers glance at a book, price it, and shelve it for sale, unaware of the treasures that its former owner placed inside the book — perhaps a forgotten bookmark, a postcard, letter, or a clipped newspaper article. Depending on the age of the newspaper, specifically the type of ink and paper that was used at that time, the folded article can leave a ghostly imprint on the pages of the book, leaving behind a permanent watermark, as it were, proudly stating: “A cherished memento once lived here!”

Recently, I was reviewing a reference book that I had purchased at a library sale — I should really say, I rescued it, since it sat there dusty and forlorn at the end of a long row of tables. In any event, as I opened the book to a random chapter, out fell a neatly folded newspaper clipping. The book was titled Whose What? A Reference Book for All the Strange Expressions that Have Entered the American Language by Dorothy Blumberg. Although the book was published in 1969, the newspaper clipping was dated a few years later: March 6, 1972. Although the clipping was darkened considerably by age — the paper had turned from cream to brown — remarkably, it did not leave an imprint in the book’s pages. In my experience, most newspaper clippings relate directly to the book or its author; however, this article from the feature page of the Detroit Free Press contained a rather curious collection of fascinating factoids beneath the title “You Can Look It Up and Learn That…” with the subtitle “Things I Never Knew Until I Looked Them Up” by Sydney Harris. Since this was decades before the advent of the Internet, presumably curious fellow looked it up the old-fashioned way — by visiting a library and looking up various topics in actual books. Imagine that!

Even more fascinating — from a provenance point of view — is the book’s incredible journey. First, think about who was the original owner of this book? There was no name or bookplate; therefore, given the topic of the book and newspaper article, one could surmise that it was an educated person — curious, most likely with an interest in the English language and trivia. Second, consider that the book had traveled from Detroit to California, a distance of over 2,500 miles. Did it travel in a box, a suitcase, or a backpack? Finally, ponder that the book’s journey has taken a half century! And how the world has changed from 1969 to today! But I digress…

This serendipitous encounter with random facts — learning that goes beyond the scope of a specific book — is one of the wonderful byproducts of book collecting. Sadly, most books on bookcollecting don’t even address that incredible aspect. Nevertheless, without further ado, here are the fascinating facts that I learned when a newspaper clipping fell out of an old book:

Things I Never Knew Until I Looked Them Up

Baseball is an older sport than tennis; it goes back to at least 1840, whereas modern tennis began only 100 years ago, in 1872, when the first outdoor courts were built in England.

Florence Nightingale was the first woman ever to be named “Florence”; she was born in that city, and until her subsequent fame, the feminine name “Florence” was unknown in the English-speaking world.

Speaking of cities, both London and Paris were named by the Romans during the Caesarean period: the former was the Roman fort, Londinium, and the latter was a fishing village called Lutetia Parisiorum.

Sicilians wave “goodbye” with the same beckoning gesture that almost all other people employ to mean  “come here.”

The Oriental “rickshaw,” a mode of travel identified with the ancient East, was actually invented by an American missionary in Japan.

The military title, “Marshal,” which in many countries designates the officer of the highest rank, originally comes from the name of the lowly stable-boy, or keeper of the horses.

The custom of throwing rice at a wedding comes, oddly enough, from India.

The term “cowboy” did not originate in the West at all, but was a name adopted by a group of guerillas operating in New York State during the Revolutionary War. (It was then taken up by a gang of wild riders headed by one Ewen Cameron, who specialized in assaulting Mexicans soon after Texas became an independent state, in 1835, and only later came to mean the cow-punchers of the West.)

Speaking of the Revolutionary War, Paul Revere is a national hero only because of [Henry Wadsworth] Longfellow’s poem [“Paul Revere’s Ride” published in 1860], which celebrated the wrong man. Revere was captured by the British on the famous “midnight ride,” and only Samuel Prescott got through to Concord with the message. Revere’s military career was mediocre at best: once he was arrested and court-martialed for disobeying orders.

All the Old Testament was originally written like this: “Gd crtd th hvns nd th rth,” with consonants only, and it was not until a thousand years later that Hebrew scholars supplied vowel points which indicated the proper vocalization and followed the traditional pronunciation.

The Germans have never called themselves “Germans,” and the origin of the name is totally unknown.

The first U.S. flag, raised by George Washington, had no stars on it at all, but the British crosses of St. George and St. Andrew.

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

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The Beauty of Literature is that You Discover that You Belong

alex atkins bookshelf literature“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.” 

From a letter written in 1938 by F. Scott Fitzgerald to his lover, Sheilah Graham. During the Great Depression, the popularity of his novels dramatically decreased. He needed to secure a steady income to pay for his wife’s (Zelda) psychiatric treatment for schizophrenia at an asylum, his estranged daughter’s (Scottie) college tuition (Vassar), and support his chronic drinking habit. Consequently, Fitzgerald moved to Hollywood in the mid 1930s to be a screenwriter for MGM. In 1936, Fitzgerald met Graham at a cocktail party held at the Garden of Allah, playground for the Hollywood elite (like Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe). For the next four years, Fitzgerald’s reputation continued to decline and his alcoholism got worse. He began work on his fifth novel, The Last Tycoon, where Graham served as his model for the character Kathleen. Graham tolerated Fitzgerald’s drunken binges and verbal abuse and encouraged him to embrace his talent and write. For her troubles, Fitzgerald provided Graham with a college education. Fitzgerald finally achieved sobriety in 1940, claiming that this time with Graham was one of the happiest times of their relationship; he died of a heart attack in December of that year. When he died, he was considered a failed alcoholic and his work was largely forgotten. Graham later wrote about her life and relationship with Fitzgerald in a book titled Beloved Infidel published in 1959. 

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

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A Deceased Father Speaks to His Son Through a Special Book

alex atkins bookshelf booksHe couldn’t quite reach it at first — it was almost beyond the reach of his young hands. It didn’t help that it was tucked snugly between several other books — as if they were soldiers protecting one of their ranks. But, at last, the book slid forward. The boy sat down at the base of the towering bookcase and opened the book. A slip of paper, neatly folded, suddenly fell to the floor. His father, who had passed away from cancer years ago, had the habit of placing inside his books related essays and reviews clipped from magazines or printed from the internet. He viewed books not just as static documents to be read but also as  portable, dynamic filing systems — like a commonplace book, a place to collect related ideas and inspirations for new intellectual reflections and explorations. Perhaps this was one of those intriguing essays. He carefully unfolded the paper and immediately recognized his father’s neat handwriting; he could clearly hear his father’s voice as he began to read:

My dear boy,
If you are reading this letter it is because you have reached a point in your personal development that this book’s title finally interested you. The book you hold in your hand is one of the great treasures of my life; and just like you, I discovered it rather serendipitously. And that is a part of the intrinsic value of this wonderful book: you must discover it on your own, in your own time. During my lifetime I could not have given it to you because it would have robbed you of this precious, propitious moment — a bibliophilic eureka moment, if you will — one that you will cherish for the rest of your life.

When I was about your age, I recall reading Stephen Crane’s poem, “A Man Said to the Universe.” Despite the poem’s brevity, its meaning is far-reaching and profound: “A man said the universe: / “Sir, I exist!” / “However,” replied the universe, / “The fact has not created in me / A sense of obligation.” I never forgot that poem. Indeed, the world can be indifferent and unfair. Sadly, over my lifetime, I have witnessed a world that has increasingly moved beyond indifference to being intolerant, belligerent, and cruel. Moreover, it troubles me greatly that the nation is so bitterly divided and that the search for Truth has been so maligned — and in many cases, abandoned. There will be times — because you are so perceptive, so sensitive, so reflective — that you will feel that oppressive force on your soul, your thoughts, and being. And then there are times when the tribulations of life wash upon your shores, one after the other, sometimes pushing you to the breaking point. All of this can cause you to doubt your goodness, your purpose, and you can lose sight of what is critical to your life: your values, your dreams, and the unwavering love of your parents that have sustained you since that memorable day you were born. The book you hold in your hands was my salvation during the darkest days of my life when those inevitable sea of troubles caused me to stumble, caused me to stop believing in myself, and diminished my hope for a better world. The reassuring, transformative words in the book’s pages, written by another human being — a complete stranger to me, but a fellow traveler, a kindred soul — brought me back to my self and gently nudged me back onto the journey of my deliberate choices to lead a fulfilling and meaningful life of contribution and purpose.

This particular book and all the books in my library, thoughtfully collected during my lifetime, are yours; however, they are imbued with special meaning. To paraphrase St. Exupery’s wise Little Prince: “All men have books, but they are not the same things for different people… But all these books are silent. You — you alone — will have the books as no else has them — in one of the books I shall be living.” When you read this book,I hope you hear my voice and know that I have never left you. I am right here, living among its pages. May this book provide you with guidance and solace all the days of your life; and know, my dear son, that my love for you is eternal.

Love, Dad

The boy held the note tenderly and sat silently for what seemed an eternity, not wanting the moment to pass, pondering its meaning. With one hand he wiped away his tearstained cheeks, then gently put the note down. He picked up the book and opened it carefully, as if it were a rare museum relic; he began to read. Suddenly, he felt he was no longer alone. The boy could hear his father’s voice as he read each sentence. In that moment, the boy felt the book magically transform in his soft, gentle hands — it was now truly his and it was alive with the spirit of his beloved father.

Excerpt from the forthcoming book Stories from the Bookshelves by Alexander Atkins.

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

For further reading: Famous Misquotations: The Two Most Important Days in Your Life
The Wisdom of a Grandmother
Read related posts: Letters to a Young Poet
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The Monumental Book that the Brothers Grimm Never Completed

alex atkins bookshelf booksMost readers are familiar with the Brothers Grimm (Jacob and Wilhelm) most famous book, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, originally published in 1812. The first edition was originally titled Kinder- und Hausmarchan (Children’s and Household Tales) and contained 86 fairy tales; almost a half century later, the book’s seventh edition contained 210 fairy tales. Although the book was very popular, the book that made the Grimm name really famous was Jacob’s German Grammar, published in 1819. But it was their last writing project for a monumental book that overwhelmed the brothers and thus, was never completed.

By the 1830s, following the success of their previous books, both Jacob and Wilhelm became professors at the University of Gottingen. In 1837, King Ernst August II who ruled the Kingdom of Hanover demanded that all academics swear an oath of loyalty to him. Because they refused, the Grimm Brothers were banished from the university and had to seek employment elsewhere. They accepted an offer from a Frankfurt publisher to create a comprehensive dictionary of the German language to be titled Deutsches Worterbuch (The German Dictionary). The two brothers began the work in 1838 and estimated that the dictionary would fill four volumes and take about ten years. They hired readers to read texts from German literature, from Luther to Goethe, from the 16th to 18th centuries, to identify words to include in the dictionary. The brothers underestimated the complexity of the project. The first volume (A to Biermolke) was not published until 1854, the second volume (Biermolke to E) was published in 1860. Sadly, the brothers never completed the dictionary: Wilhelm died in 1859 having completed “D”words, and Jacob died in 1863 midway through the “F” words (the last word he defined was “frucht” (fruit).

In 1867 the project received funding from the government and a team headed by Rudolf Hildebrand (a former proofread for the book) began work on completing the comprehensive dictionary. He worked diligently for years but only reached the letter K. The project stalled for some time and was resumed by two teams, one from Gottingen and another working from Berlin.  The German Dictionary was finally completed in 1961 containing more than 330,000 headwords in 32 volumes, weighing 84 kg. The dictionary, referred to as the DWB, is the German equivalent of the OED for English. The volumes that the Brothers Grimm wrote, A through F, were completely rewritten and published in 2016 — more than two centuries after the monumental book project was conceived. As of this writing, a first edition is worth about $2,000.

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

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What Would You Name Your Bookstore?

alex atkins bookshelf booksMost booklovers have at some point — if even for a fleeting moment — dreamed about opening their own bookstore. What’s there not to love: surrounded by bookcases full of books, enjoying that wonderful aroma of paper and ink, sharing your passion for reading and learning, and helping customers find that special book.

I will let you in on a little secret — you can actually indulge in the bibliophilic fantasy of running a bookstore without all the hassles and commitment (financial, legal, management, etc.). That’s right: you can actually run a bookstore for a fortnight — all for the cost of a typical hotel stay. Let me introduce you to The Open Book, a bookstore that you can rent on Airbnb (currently, for about $120 per night); however you will have to cross the Atlantic, because it is located in Wigtown in the southern part of Scotland. This charming small town with a population of less than 1,000 is home to almost a dozen bookshops.

The idea for a bookstore-for-rental came to American Jessica Fox when she quit her job at NASA and traveled to Scotland and fell in love with the small town of Wigtown. Wigtown is known as Scotland’s National Book Town and each year in September, hosts the annual Wigtown Book Festival. In an interview with CNN Travel, Fox explained, “I thought I couldn’t be the only crazy American who dreams of working in a bookshop by the sea in Scotland, there has to be more of us.” Lucky for her, as she was pondering this career change around 2010, a local bookshop announced it was closing, providing her with the perfect opportunity to buy it and create an entirely novel (pun intended) experience; she elaborated, “Finn McCreath, who is on the board of the [book] festival, and I decided to take it over and try out my idea of having a bookshop holiday.” Fox’s idea was a hit — The Open Book has been steadily, um… booked on Airbnb; moreover, there is a long waiting list for those who wish to fulfill their dream of running a bookstore. The Airbnb rental description reads, “Nestled into the pristine lowlands, The Open Book is a charming bookshop with apartment above in the heart of Wigtown, Scotland’s National Book Town. Live your dream of having your very own bookshop by the sea in Scotland… for a week or two.” Lovely.

But let’s return to that initial dream of running your own bookstore, assuming you do bit scuttle off to Scotland. What would you call your bookstore? If you scan the list of existing independent bookstores in the United States, you will see that booksellers use different strategies: a pun on books or reading, a literary or historical allusion, location of bookstore, or a their name. So, what would you name your bookstore?

Partial List of Independent Bookstores in United States by State

Alaska
Fireside Books

Arizona
Bookmans
Changing Hands Bookstore

California
Amicus Books
Bart’s Books
Bell’s Books
The Book Shop
Book Soup
Booksmith
Borderlands Books
Bound Together Anarchist Collective Bookstore
City Lights Bookstore
Computer Literacy Bookshops
Green Apple Books
Kepler’s Books
The Last Bookstore
Marcus Books
Mysterious Galaxy
Recycled Books
Verbatim Books
Vroman’s Bookstore

Colorado
Tattered Cover

Connecticut
R.J. Julia Booksellers

District of Columbia
Busboys and Poets
Kramerbooks & Afterwords
MahoganyBooks
Politics and Prose
World Bank Infoshop

Florida
Haslam’s Bookstore

Georgia
For Keeps

Illinois
New World Resource Center
Powell’s Books Chicago
Quimby’s Bookstore
Seminary Co-op
Unabridged Bookstore
Women & Children First

Indiana
Better World Books
Boxcar Books

Iowa
Prairie Lights

Kansas
Eighth Day Books
Rainy Day Books

Kentucky
Joseph-Beth Booksellers

Louisiana
Iron Rail Book Collective

Maine
Weiser Antiquarian Books

Maryland
Daedalus Books
Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse

Massachusetts
The Bookmill
Grolier Poetry Bookshop
Harvard Book Store
Lucy Parsons Center
The Odyssey Bookshop
Schoenhof’s Foreign Books
That’s Entertainment

Michigan
John K. King Books
Schuler Books & Music

Minnesota
Birchbark Books
Common Good Books
Mayday Books
SubText
Mager’s & Quinn

Mississippi
Square Books

Missouri
Left Bank Books

Nevada
Gambler’s Book Shop
The Writer’s Block

New York
Albertine Books
Bluestockings
Community Bookstore
Housing Works Bookstore Cafe
J. Levine Books and Judaica
The Mysterious Bookshop
Pomander Book Shop
Printed Matter, Inc
St. Mark’s Bookshop
The Strand Bookstore
Unnameable Books

North Carolina
Firestorm Cafe & Books
Internationalist Books

Ohio
Book Loft of German Village
Gramercy Books

Oregon
The Duck Store
Paper Moon Books
Powell’s Books

Pennsylvania
Giovanni’s Room Bookstore
Midtown Scholar Bookstore
Moravian Book Shop

South Carolina
Hub City Bookshop

Texas
BookPeople

Washington
Elliott Bay Book Company
Third Place Books
Left Bank Books
Magus Books
Mercer Street Books
Twice Sold Tales

Wisconsin
Renaissance Books
A Room of One’s Own
Woodland Pattern Book Center

What bookstore names are missing from this list?

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

For further reading:
Three Things You Need to Know About Rockets by Jessica Fox
http://www.wigtown-booktown.co.uk/the-open-book/

http://www.cnn.com/travel/article/wigtown-bookshop-vacation/index.html
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_independent_bookstores_in_the_United_States

Reading Makes Immigrants of Us All

alex atkins bookshelf booksTo celebrate National Read Across America Day, an initiative on reading created by the National Education Association, Atkins Bookshelf shares this timeless reflection on reading — and ultimately inclusion and acceptance — by American author and editor Hazel Rochman, who grew up in South Africa during the dark days of apartheid (emphasis added to last lines):

“Apartheid has tried to make us bury our books. The Inquisition and the Nazis burned books. Slaves in the United States were forbidden to read books. From Latin America to Eastern Europe, they’ve trashed books. But the stories are still here.

I believe that the best books can make a difference in building community….

As an immigrant, I’m still unable to take for granted the freedoms of the First Amendment. In Johannesburg I worked as a journalist, and over many years I saw freedom of thought and expression whittled away until it was forbidden to criticize the government or even to ask questions about children detained and tortured without trial. The result of that kind of censorship is that most people can shut out, can not know, what is happening all around them.

Walls were what apartheid was about. Walls and borders…

Borders shut us in, in Johannesburg, in Los Angeles, in Eastern Europe, in our own imaginations. The best books can help break down that apartheid. They surprise us — whether they are set close to home or abroad. They change how we see ourselves; they extend that phrase ‘like me’ to include what we thought was strange and foreign.

Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but, most importantly, it finds homes for us everywhere.”

From the essay “Against Borders” that appeared in The Horn Book Magazine, March/April 1995 issue, by Hazel Rochman. Rochman is an assistant editor at ALA Booklist and author of several books, including Somehow Tenderness Survives: Stories of Southern Africa (1988) and Bearing Witness: Stories of the Holocaust (1995).

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: Reading Teaches that the Things that Torment Us are the Things that Connect Us
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A Heroine’s Self-Education in a Hidden Library

alex atkins bookshelf books“Books, books, books!
I had found the secret of a garret-room
Pile high with cases in my father’s name,
Piled high, packed large, —where, creeping in
and out
Among the giant fossils of my past,

Like some small nimble mouse between the
ribs
Of a mastodon, I nibbled here and there
At this or that box, pulling through the gap,
In heats of terror, haste, victorious joy,
The first book first. And how I felt it beat
Under my pillow, in the morning’s dark,

An hour before the sun would let me read!
My books! At last because the time was ripe,
I chanced upon the poets.”

From Aurora Leigh (1857), an epic poem/novel written in blank verse by American poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The novel, broken up into nine chapters, is narrated by the heroine, Aurora Leigh, who describes her childhood, growing up in Florence, London, and Paris. Since her mother died when she was young, Aurora’s father raised her. He was a scholar and shared his passion for Greek and Latin and inspired her love of learning. When she was thirteen, her father died and she moved to London to be raised by her aunt. At the aunt’s home, Aurora discovers her father’s hidden library where she begins her self-education through the works of Shakespeare and all the great writers. She pursues a literary career as a poet and eventually marries Romney Leigh, a philanthropist. Aurora reflects on the significance of poetry as well as the individual’s responsibility to society. English art critic and writer John Ruskin believed that Aurora Leigh was the greatest poem of the 19th century.

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: The Comfort of Reading During Difficult Times
World Literature Has the Power to Help Mankind in These Troubled Times
The Power of Literature
The Poems We Turn To
Reading Teaches Us that the Things that Torment Us Are the Things that Connect Us

What was the Most Checked Out Book at a Library in 2021?

alex atkins bookshelf booksA measure of a community can be measured, to some extent, by the books that patrons of the local library check out the most. It gives you a sense of what they are concerned about, what they are curious about, and age range of reader. Last year, the New York Public Library began keeping track of the most checked out books of the year. For 2021, the librarians looked at the circulation data from all three branches (Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island) to develop their list of the most checked out books (including printed and e-books) for 2021:

1. The Vanishing Half: A Novel by Brit Bennett

2. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

3. Klara and the Sun: A Novel by Kazuo Ishiguro

4. A Promised Land by Barack Obama

5. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

6. The Guest List: A Novel by Lucy Foley

7. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

8. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb

9. The Other Black Girl: A Novel by Zakiya Dalila Harris

10. Malibu Rising: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The editors of Quartz, an online business magazine, conducted a survey to find out the most checked out book among all U.S. public libraries. Although there are 9,057 public libraries in the U.S. (116,867 total if you included special, armed forces, and government libraries), they focused on public libraries in major cities. Based on the data from 14 libraries that responeded, here are the most popular U.S. library books of 2021:

1. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

2. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

3. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Deep End by Jeff Kinney

5. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

6. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

7. A Promised Land by Barack Obama

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

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William Faulkner on the Writer’s Duty
A Beautiful, Inspiring Letter to Borges, the Patron of the Great Library

For further reading: http://www.nypl.org/spotlight/top-checkouts-2021
qz.com/2102283/the-most-popular-us-library-books-of-2021/

 

Little Books, Big Ideas: Life Stinks

alex atkins bookshelf booksIf you visit a used bookstore, you might stumble upon an often neglected section: miniature or compact books. A miniature book generally measures 3 by 4 inches; some are even smaller: 1.5 inches by 2 inches. A compact book, also known as an octodecimo in American Library Association lingo, generally measures 4 x 6 inches. Unfortunately, these types of books are often dismissed due to their small size. “If they are so small, how can they possibly matter?” you think to yourself. Astute book lovers, however, know that even little books can contain ideas that are worth pondering.

In my periodic visits to used bookstores, I recently came across such a little book: Life Stinks: A Wry Look at Hopelessness, Despair, & Disaster by Armand Eisen published by Andrews and McMeel in 1995. In the introduction, Eisen writes: “It’s sad but true that fate stays in the background most of our lives, showing up only to hand us the fuzzy end of a lollipop. The overwhelming weight of evidence proves that life stinks: If there’s a fifty-fifty chance of toast falling on the floor buttered side down, why does it do so 99% of the time? There’s no rhyme, no reason, and absolutely no justice. It seems there’s only on certainty in life — it’s unfair… Only blind optimism could doubt the facts… The truth is that we’re all bound by Murphy’s Law, which states that anything can go wrong, especially when you least expect it.”

Below are some wry and pithy quotations (Ever look up the word “pithy” in a dictionary? It’s one of those useless definitions where the editors, for whatever reason, were just too lazy to finish the definition: “containing much pith.” You don’t say?), collected by the book’s author, to build the case that life stinks. You be the judge — does life really stink?

Optimism is a mania for saying things are well when one is in hell. (Voltaire)

Hell is other people. (Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit)

Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows. (William Shakespeare, The Tempest)

The basic fact about human existence is not that it is a tragedy, but that it is a bore. (H. L. Mencken)

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. (Marchus Aurelius)

Meditate upon exile, torture, wars, diseases, shipwreck so that you may not be a novice to any misfortune. (Seneca)

In the depths of my heart I can’t help being convinced that my dear fellow men, with a few exceptions, are worthless. (Sigmund Freud, Private Letter to Lou Andreas-Salome, 1929)

It is not true that life is one damn thing after another — it’s one damn thing over and over. (Edna St. Vincent Millay)

Success is merely one achievement that covers up a multitude of blunders. (George Bernard Shaw)

A bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it begins to rain. (Robert Frost, [attributed])

Nothing is so good as it seems beforehand. (George Eliot)

I have the true feeling of myself only when I am unbearably unhappy. (Franz Kafka, The Diaries of Franz Kafka: 1914-1923)

The secret of being miserable is to have the leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not. (George Bernard Shaw)

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

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