Books about Books Dusty Bookshelves and Library Loot Meta-Reading Reading Themes

The Anatomy Of A Book And Its Birth and History as Told by Keith Houston in “The Book”

Myra here.

Even before we launched our reading theme, I saw this book being shared by a bookseller friend of mine on Facebook and was rightly intrigued. As a self-confessed book addict, I love reading books about books, hence our current reading theme.

While I have, unfortunately, not been able to read this pretty thick tome of a book (I had to return it to the library), let me just share bits and pieces which I found particularly interesting.

The book is made up of four parts – beginning with Part One: “The Page” whereby the author traced the book’s history from the papyrus to its eventual paper trail when it has gone global.

Part Two explores “The Text” from the prints to the invention of movable type printing presses, as well as how the Industrial revolution affected typesetting.

To think how people used to physically copy books on blank pages or parchments because reproducing and distributing books were just way too costly and prohibitive. Compare that to the present time when books are now being sold in “vendo book machines” and the many permutations a story can now take with the internet and fan fiction and Wattpad. And we’re not even talking about e-books here.

Part Three looks at “Illustrations” with the rise of the illuminated manuscript. I love how they were referred to earlier as “illuminated” texts rather than illustrated books:

Part Four explores the book’s “Form” with the invention of the codex and binding the paged book, and finally ending with the invention of the modern book.

I have a feeling that this is a must-read not just for avid bibliophiles such as myself but for those who have also made it their life’s work to be part of the book industry, breathing life to stories. This is a beautifully printed and looks-like-a-well-researched material on the story behind what is ostensibly the “most powerful object of our time: the book.”

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

1 comment on “The Anatomy Of A Book And Its Birth and History as Told by Keith Houston in “The Book”

  1. This was really interesting. I love history and I find your blog very interesting but I have to go away for 6 weeks and need to take off some subscriptions until December.


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