Like most readers, I’m a magpie when it comes to picking up odd facts and wonders. All things books make for particularly glittering tidbits. I can never resist a chance to see unusual and beautiful books.
— Tucked into a far corner of the annex to Carolina Rediviva, the main library at Sweden’s Uppsala University, a book sits alone behind bulletproof glass. You might think its remote placement indicates its minor significance. But look closer and you’ll see a work of visual splendor. It’s the Codex Argenteus, a beautiful and mysterious bible from the sixth century.
—How about Emily Dickinson’s herbarium? So many writers have been gardeners and have written about gardens that it might be easier to make a list of those who didn’t. But even in this crowded company, Emily Dickinson stands out. She not only attended the fragile beauty of flowers with an artist’s eye—before she’d written any of her famous verse—but she did so with the keen eye of a botanist, a field of work then open to anyone with the leisure, curiosity, and creativity to undertake it.
— Artist Yiota Demetriou’s new book of love letters can only be read when warmed by human touch. The book is a metaphor for relationships and the insecurity that comes with love and grief.
Of course, there’s always a chance to read books about such books.
— History abounds with tales of obsessive bibliophilic greed, betrayal, theft, blackmail, fraud, assault, and murder. Can mystery fiction be far behind? (Lured by the puns, if nothing else? A Cracking of Spines? Dewey Decimated? Here are some mysteries centered on the world of bibliophiles.
Also irresistible is the chance to test one’s book knowledge.
And there are all those fabulous ways we store and enjoy books.
— Featured in A blog about weird and wonderful bookshelves. Be sure to scroll on down when you get there.
–And this historic Michigan library listed as the most amazing college library in the country.
And then there are these shining objects that writers love:
Like words themselves.
— Absurd quests in fiction from seeking how to stop being an ass to finding out where a month has gone missing.
Or unexpected connections and literary inspirations:
— The influence of “The Year Without a Summer” on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein when a sun-obscuring ash cloud ejected from one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions in recorded history caused temperatures to plummet the world over. Frankenstein and the Climate Refugess of 1816
Of course, the Internet is deadly for bookish magpies. Even finding an image for “The Year without a Summer” led to yet more links. Like this article from the New England Historical Society.
I could probably spend all day at this. So I think the thing for all us magpies to do is to give ourselves a magpie holiday every once in awhile and simply allow ourselves an entire day to just follow from one shiny object to another at our leisure.