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Phantoms on the Bookshelves Hardcover – July 5, 2012
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"This is a charming book full of erudition and wit, and is very nicely translated." — John Sutherland, Literary Review
"Part cataloging manual, part homage to books, adventure story and autobiography, this Borgesian account is a promise of happiness." — Jerome Garcin, Nouvel Observateur
"This charming volume illustrates the intensely symbiotic relationship between reader and writer, a book and its recipients." — Publishers Weekly
"The book's ideal readers will be those who share Bonnet's love of being surrounded by the evidence of their minds' journeys, insatiable readers who love to linger over large and quirky accumulations of the printed word. For those readers, highly recommended." — Library Journal
"In Phantoms on the Bookshelves, Jacques Bonnet has once again invested the humble reading copy, the mode through which we first read, experienced, and encountered our favorite books and writers, with the old affection, respect and awe we had for it." — The Hindu
About the Author
Jacques Bonnet is a publisher, translator and the author of novels and works of art history, including a monograph on the artist.
James Salter is an American novelist and short story writer whose work includes the classic A Sport and A Pastime. He has won the PEN/Faulkner award, and who was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2000.
Top customer reviews
Jacques Bonnet is a French publisher, translator, and author. For forty years he has been acquiring books, so that, as of the time of writing this slim book, he had a private library of more than forty thousand volumes. It is "a working library, the kind where you don't hesitate to write on your books, or read them in the bath; a library that results from keeping everything you have ever read - including paperbacks and perhaps several editions of the same title - as well as the ones you mean to read one day. A non-specialist library, or rather one specialized in so many areas that it becomes a general one."
Much of the book is devoted to problems of classification and organization. That might sound staggeringly dull, except to those of us who have encountered those sometimes vexing problems and are curious about how others address them - and for the likes of us, Bonnet's discussion is thorough and thoughtful, yet light and witty and anything but dull. The point of organization, of course, is to be able to readily retrieve a specific book when one thinks one needs it. With Bonnet, as with the rest of us, "I can only find my way around because I have personally placed each book in its position, one by one, down the years, and any changes were thought about long enough at the time to enable me to remember them." Still, there are occasions when the system - the coordination of physical reality and our mental mapping - fails. "Sometimes I spend time looking for a book for which the logical place has been overtaken by events. Or failing to find a book that I know I have somewhere. Have I mis-shelved it or is it lost? I cannot always answer that question, or else it is answered too late, when I have already bought another copy. When that happens, should I keep both of them? And if not, then which one?"
Bonnet recognizes that he and his ilk may be among the last of the Mohicans. In particular, the internet has changed, and continues to change, not only how and what people read, but also the need for a personal library amongst the small tribe of obsessive-compulsive readers. "Would I ever have put together the same library if I had been born into the internet generation? Almost certainly not." So, PHANTOMS ON THE BOOKSHELVES may soon be a work of history, akin to a monograph on how library card catalogues worked.
Bonnet of course is French, and therefore much of his library - and many of the specific examples he cites - are French publications. But his interests are remarkably broad and cosmopolitan, and I sense that he chose his examples with an international audience in mind, such that I, who neither know French nor am particularly steeped in French culture and literature, never felt like an outsider looking in.
The book is generously sprinkled with anecdotes and quotations about those who love to read -- or, perhaps more precisely, live to read. For example, there was "a man sentenced to death during the revolutionary Terror [who] read a book in the tumbril taking him to the scaffold, and turned down the page he had reached before climbing up to the guillotine."
Finally, one last excerpt to entice you: Bonnet confesses that he marks his books as he reads them, sometimes in pencil, but also with felt pens or ballpoints, whatever is at hand. "The tens of thousands of books with their underlinings and marginalia, which have absorbed a large proportion of the money I have earned in my working life, are therefore now of no commercial value. This makes a kind of sense, since I have always considered them as a sort of mental and material extension of myself, destined to go out of existence when I do * * *."
I was enchanted by the subject...people who can count their personal libraries in the tens of thousands and their idiosyncrasies. While I'm only halfway to my first ten thousand, I felt Bonnet was speaking directly to me about book collecting and the whys and wherefores of acquiring a book - you like the cover art, someone recommended it, the book had an interesting title. And the downside, they cost a lot of money are aren't worth much in resale. He especially hit home with the comment that even if the book is terrible, it's hard to get rid of. Once part of the library, always part of the library.
The upside, of course, is the pleasure of knowing the books are there waiting for the right time to be read or re-read or just thumbed through for favorite passages. Then there is the obsession of collecting itself and the hunt through used book shops looking for the one volume you're missing.
There is even a chapter on how to organize your collection and a bibliography of the books from his own collection that he discusses in the book.
A charming book fo anyone who loves books.
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Was afraid the page would tear
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以輕鬆的方式把許多愛書人的模糊地帶做出說明，包括收集書的方式，擺書的方式，有趣的一本談書的書！good one, easy to read and fun. Good ! Good! Good! Funny!