Book-lover though he may be, however, Henry Petroski is, first and foremost, an engineer and so, in the end, it is the evolution of bookshelves even more than of books that fascinates him. Pigeonholes for scrolls, book presses containing thousands of chained volumes, rotating lecterns that allowed scholars to peruse more than one book at a time--these are just a few of the ingenious methods readers have devised over the centuries for storing their books: "in cabinets beneath the desks, on shelves in front of them, in triangular attic-like spaces formed under the back-to-back sloped surfaces of desktops or small tabletop lecterns that rested upon a horizontal surface." Placing books vertically on shelves, spines facing outward, is a fairly recent invention, it would seem. Well written as it is, if Book on the Bookshelf were only about books-as-furniture, it would have little appeal to the general reader. Petroski, however, uses this treatise on design to examine the very human motivations that lie behind it. From the example of Samuel Pepys, who refused to have more titles than his library could hold (about 3,000), to an appendix detailing all the ways people organize their collections (by sentimental value, by size, by color, and by price, to name a few of the more unconventional methods), Petroski peppers his account with enough human interest to keep his audience reading from cover to cover. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
The history of the book fasinates me and so I was eager to read this one.
This book is thoroughly researched, well illustrated and written without engineering jargon so that the general reader will enjoy the story of the book and the shelf.
I'm as fascinated by history and technology as the next person, but this book seems to be an overstretched monograph, marked by redundancy and needless recitation.
We tend not to think about things like the bookshelf. It's history and function. And the book on it. Weren't books always shelved the way they are now? Read morePublished 16 months ago by Gene Rhea Tucker
I'd like to give this half a star less, but that is unfortunately not possible, so in the spirit of being generous, I'll give it three stars. Read morePublished on February 19, 2012 by Paul Arking
Petroski's books tend to be defined by two characteristics. They are usually on very interesting subjects with tons of fascinating information and detail. Read morePublished on February 14, 2011 by mastermindquiet
Henry Petroski not only judges the book by its cover, but also by its various abodes in pigeonholes, on desks and in shelves over the centuries. Read morePublished on August 24, 2010 by Sarah Turnbull
Who thinks of bookshelves? No one, unless you need to shelve some books, and even then it seems `pretty obvious'. Well, think again. Read morePublished on August 2, 2009 by Colin Povey
I bought this book to specifically make a bookshelf out of it. I regret not having read it but the shelf was a present for someone. Read morePublished on February 26, 2009 by A. Massi
If you love books,a little or a lot,you'll fall in love with this excellent book about books,by an engineer,no less. Read morePublished on January 31, 2009 by J. Guild
Great title, great cover. But not worth a book. The history of the bookshelf is interesting, sort of, but this entire book could have been made more interesting by compressing it... Read morePublished on May 15, 2008 by Edward T. Brading