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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Phantoms on the Bookshelves

Phantoms on the Bookshelves - James Salter, Jacques Bonnet, Sian Reynolds

40,000 books.  Bonnet has 40,000 books in his personal library.  At one point he had bookshelves in his bathroom, so he couldn't use the shower and could only run the bath with the window open.  He also had bookshelves in his kitchen, so no cooking with strong flavours could be done either.  I've been looking at my 1300 or so books thinking to myself I'm staring into the face of a possible obsession, but 40,000?!?  I suddenly feel quite well-adjusted.

 

I loved this book; it hit just the right note of chatty and philosophical, with so many quotable bits I just stopped trying to keep track - I'd have ended up reproducing the book itself.  Unlike Books: A Memoir this is entirely about the books: collecting, reading, organising; what Bonnet says about himself might amount to 2 sentences in total if you threw in a few articles and punctuation.

 

My only, only niggle is the result of my own reading inadequacies: he drops a lot of titles into the text (of course), and most of them are ones I've never heard of and seem to be only available in French.  This is entirely understandable, because Bonnet is French and this book was originally written and published in French.  So I was left in a few places skimming over French titles that meant little to me; c'est la vie.

 

Speaking of this being a translation, I can't speak with any authority, but I thought this was an excellent translation insomuch as I felt like the author's personality came through perfectly; the narrative felt smooth and natural and Reynolds took pains at the beginning to explain how French titles would be translated to English based on whether or not an English translation of the book was ever published.  A bibliography is also included at the back of books mentioned in the text.

 

This one is for the book collectors out there; those who love physical books and find tranquility in standing in a room surrounded by them.  For you, this is a book worth reading (and owning, of course!).