Glittering Tidbits for Book Lovers

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.

Can you pick the Harry Potter characters from a description of how their lives might have gone if they were muggles?

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.

Words you should know before a moon shot

Or

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.

Illustration by Brian Lies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 responses to “Glittering Tidbits for Book Lovers

  1. Magpie Holiday – I’m writing that one in on the calendar!! Thanks, Bonny.

  2. Thanks, Julie. 🙂 I always feel a little guilty when I get lost down the rabbit hole of the Internet, so maybe if it’s official…

  3. Gretchen Hansen

    Really enjoying your permission, Bonny, to schedule a magpie holiday to pursue all those glittering bibliophilic bits and threads to see where they lead! Now, if I can just remember to jot those connections and links down so that I consider them later on, and not during work.

  4. books books books. thank you for all these intriguing leads.

  5. Oh, so tempting to take a break at work. That’s when my guilty magpie behavior takes place–when I’m supposed to be writing. Here’s what I’d do about the links: copy the link on this post and e-mail it to yourself, then put it in an e-mail folder for Magpie Holiday and then never remember it! 🙂

  6. My Magpie Holidays are scattered throughout my Pinterest boards. Do I go back? Not often. But at least they’re there – somewhere.

  7. Yes, Wendy. And can be found again! Maybe like how I save the things I cut from my writing, but almost never–ever?–go back to them.

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