Sunday, January 29, 2006

Every Book Its Reader - Nicholas A. Basbanes

Subtitled: The Power of the Printed Word to Stir the World, I have not actually read this book. I read a review of the book in the February issue of Smithsonian Magazine. Sometimes they tuck these little gems at the very back amid the advertising, which is where I found this one. Kathleen Burke, a senior editor at Smithsonian, reviewed the book and made it sound interesting enough that it's gone on my "Must Read" list.

Basbanes writes "Books not only define lives, civilizations, and collective identities, they also have the power to shape events and nudge the course of history, and they do it in countless ways." The review lists some of the figures whose reading the author examines, among them John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison and Winston Churchill. It makes me wonder how historians of the next century will look back on the movers and shakers of this one and what influenced them. Instead of books, will it be podcasts, summits, conferences, blogs and websites that are noted for their power to influence? It's interesting to consider the importance in this day and age of books, and their impact on the development of great minds in this 21st century. I suppose it's one of those things that can only be known in hindsight.

It's actually made me feel the presence even more of David McCullough's John Adams on the shelf in my bedroom where it has collected dust for two years waiting to be read. It's in good company with many other fine books awaiting their day. Meanwhile the pile of books that promise to illuminate the future of business grows taller next to my chair in the living room, with new ones being added faster than the old ones are being read. Given that my time upon this planet is finite, I certainly hope that I've chosen well.

1 comment:

Val August said...

I am glad to hear that I am in such good company with books waiting to be read. Piles here, there and everywhere. But the most amazing thing about this condition of loving books and buying them when the spirit moves you rather than when you have the right time to read them is that when you are ready you get the privilege of just perusing the shelves, floors, tables for just the book you knew you would read when the time was right. Quite delicious!