Here are two links you need if your book shelves need arranging or inspiration:
- 450 Square Foot Studio Apartment Layout Inspiration | Apartment Therapy
- How to Add Built-In Bookshelves Around Doors in Your Home | Apartment Therapy
Here are two links you need if your book shelves need arranging or inspiration:
Whenever I read By The Book interviews in the New York Times, I am always a bit embarrassed. Everyone it seems has a stellar collection of books that they are about to read, they have read all the classics including some obscure ones, they read voraciously, and they arrange their books wonderfully. Meh. Reading about them makes me feel bad.
That’s why I felt better after reading this interview with Ai Weiwei: In the Cultural Revolution, Ai Weiwei’s Father Burned the Family’s Books – The New York Times.
He is well read and thoughtful but he seems much more ordinary about his book reading. And for good reasons. I recommend the interview in itself. And if you feel bad about your own reading, I highly recommend it.
Then you want to go to this page and check out the magical bookshelves there (like the one above). This lover of books and design absolutely drooled over them (metaphorically speaking).
(I don’t know how comfortable or useful that chair is above, but I love the idea of it.)
You might find this interesting: What Happened When I (Tried to) Read 30 Books in 30 Days
Personally I think that is not the ideal way to read. But you should check it out if that sort of thing appeals to you.
Also, it’s the pandemic: don’t read that close to anyone but your immediate circle. 🙂
If you haven’t read philosophy before, it can be daunting. Doing it with an instructor helps. A good instructor or lecturer can give you context, guide you to what is important, help you ask the right questions, even acknowledge the difficulty of what you are reading.
If you don’t have that but still want to give it a try, I recommend this list by Nigel Warburton. Some of them are general, and some focus on specific fields of philosophy. They all sound good. Read the list: Warburton tells you what each book is about and why you want to read it.
I suspect by the time you finish the article, you’ll want to go out and get one of those books.
Congrats! It’s the weekend! You made it. Perhaps you want to relax. If so, here’s a list of books you might be interested in reading: 2020 books: Feel-good reads with guaranteed happy endings – The Washington Post
Hey, it’s the pandemic: you could use some more upbeat reading material.
If you are not the relaxing type, why not check in on that friend you haven’t heard from lately and drop off some soup. Need convincing that it’s a good idea? Read this: Soup for a Friend | A Cup of Jo
Obviously homemade soup is great. But if you live in Calgary, consider getting some soup from my friend, Carmie. She’s a great cook, and you can order soup from her company, SpoonFed. Get some bread or crackers, too.
The weather is getting cooler and the days shorter. Good soup can help you and your friends.
(Top image from the Cup of Jo blog post. Bottom image from the SpoonFed site.)
As a book lover myself, I have coveted the collection of books above from Penguin. As they say:
This spectacular box set of the 80 books in the Little Black Classics series showcases the many wonderful and varied writers in Penguin Black Classics. From India to Greece, Denmark to Iran, the United States to Britain, this assortment of books will transport readers back in time to the furthest corners of the globe. With a choice of fiction, poetry, essays and maxims, by the likes of Chekhov, Balzac, Ovid, Austen, Sappho and Dante, it won’t be difficult to find a book to suit your mood.
Sounds great! For more information, including how to order it, go here.
I’ve been reading less since the pandemic hit. For many reasons. It started to bother me, since the last few years I have been reading dozens of books each year. I felt I was failing. Then I read this: How to Read Fewer Books, from The School of Life.
I whole piece is good, but this part nailed it for me:
In order to ease and simplify our lives, we might dare to ask a very old-fashioned question: what am I reading for? And this time, rather than answering ‘in order to know everything,’ we might parcel off a much more limited, focused and useful goal. We might – for example – decide that while society as a whole may be on a search for total knowledge, all that we really need and want to do is gather knowledge that is going to be useful to us as we lead our own lives. We might decide on a new mantra to guide our reading henceforth: we want to read in order to learn to be content. Nothing less – and nothing more. With this new, far more targeted ambition in mind, much of the pressure to read constantly, copiously and randomly starts to fade. We suddenly have the same option that was once open to St Jerome; we might have only a dozen books on our shelves – and yet feel in no way intellectually undernourished or deprived.
What am I reading for: it’s a great question. I think there are many answers to that. To be content, as that suggests. Or to become an expert in an area. Or to pass the time. All are good answers, depending on your need for reading. If you are feeling bad about reading fewer books, step back and decide what you are reading for. It may help you read in a new and improved way.
It’s a great story about the life of a great man captured in illustrated form.
Once you read about it, you can buy it here and other places that sell graphic novels and other illustrated books.
I saved this at the start of the pandemic for a time when I could freely buy books again. Now is that time, in Canada. I think this is a fine list, full of old and new books: 17 books to get you through the pandemic – Free Candie
Summer is a great time to read. Try and do that. If you get stuck, I find sticking to short/funny/light books can help.
And ready the Free Candie blog. It’s great.
(Image from a link to the blog post)
Well this advice is fraught with assumptions, but if you are hankering to read the classics and have an open idea of what “the classics” are, I recommend this: So you want to read classic books during the coronavirus pandemic – Vox
Basically, there are quite a number of books that are considered classic, but not all classics are approachable. You might pick up one in anticipation, get stuck, and abandon the idea of ever reading such books. To prevent that from happening, read the advice given in Vox. Start slow, and go from there.
Finally, there has always been a debate over what consists of the classics. Many of them will not appeal to you. And other books not considered “Classic” by many might just be old enough for you to fill your appetite for something you consider classic. (e.g. A fan of science fiction might consider Jules Verne classic. ) I consider it good to read from different times: it gives you a better appreciation of your own time, among other reasons. So put down those contemporary writings and go find your own classics to read and love.
It’s always tricky posting a list like this, for the minute you do, many people will go over it and disagree with it. They will say, “but The Ambassadors is my favorite book”. Fine. Read this list and decide for yourself: 21 Books You Don’t Have to Read | GQ
Many of these books you will be familiar with. (Ahem, The Bible.) You may have them somewhere in your house. Perhaps on your nightside table. Hopefully this will save some of you from spend time struggling to read a book you shouldn’t even be reading.
Life is short. There is an endless list of books you can read. Read the ones you want to.
I realize not everyone can do this, but if you are bored out of your gourd right now and are looking for a challenge, why not try to read an entire book in a single day.
If you think: there’s no way I can do that, then read this: How to Read an Entire Book in a Single Day.
As you can see, it’s quite possible to do it, and with that article, you have all kinds of advice on how to succeed.
The weekend is coming up. This could be just the thing you need to feel some sense of accomplishment.
Let me know what you read!
A strong defense of self help books can be found here: On Self-Help Books | The Book of Life.
Essentially the argument is that the genre has been overtaken and is associated with people like this:
And not associated with this:
We need a list of good self help books, classic and current. Unfortunately, even lists with the so called best self-help books of all time are lacking in literary qualities. That’s a shame.
I think we need a new list of self-help books then, a list stretching from the classics such as the Dhammapada and the Bible and the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, all the way to present day books like In Search of Meaning. A new list of books that help us live better lives but that are good as books themselves. It’s time for such a list, and time for the current list of self-help books to take a backseat to this new list.
For fans (or critics) of productivity books, here’s a review of “Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business” in The New Yorker.
It’s a good review of such a book. Better than the usual synopsis. Also good to think about on a Monday as you roll into work and figure out how you are going to tackle – or avoid – the week and what it entails.
As they say, here is: A Very Short List of Very Short Novels with Very Short Commentary.
Some of these you may have read, but chances are there are a few you haven’t. I recommend short novels to people who want to read more and are stuck with not having read anything recently. Better still, read good short novels. Every book on that short list is a good book.
It’s Saturday. You are thinking: I should start reading more books. But I suck at it. Well then, read this: How to Read More Books, According to an Editor Who Finishes 60+ a Year
I can’t promise it will get you to 60 books, but it will help.
Things I’d add:
Part bookshelf, part seat, this bookshelf is not like any other.
For more information on how you can get your own, see Bookworm – The only cocoon shaped bookshelf in the world | Atelier 010 Rotterdam
Arguably they are the ones in this article: I read the 8 best business books of all time—here’s what I learned. If you want to know what they are and get a synopsis, read that piece.
It’s a great list of books, for starters. Second, they tell you how long they long they are and a number of them are under 100 or 200 pages.
If you are trying to reach a reading challenge goal, or if you are stuck trying to get started reading, or if you find you never finish books due to their length, then you should check out that list.
How so? Here is a list of one hundred books by great women authors on a wide range of topics, including graphic novels like Persepolis. Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts – #VOTE100BOOKS.
Regardless of the voting and which book gets the most, it is safe to say that everything listed is worth seeking out.
It’s unlikely even well read people haven’t read all these. If you find you want to read more women, you’re bound to find things on that list.
The photographs of European libraries at this link really are stunning! I’d love to take a tour of Europe that went to each one of them.
Lovers of libraries and books will want to check out Fubiz for more images. The above image is just one of many great photos.
Despite being burned too many times by Kickstarter projects, this one seems so worthwhile I feel I must promote it: Color Problems – A Book by Emily Noyes Vanderpoel by The Circadian Press with Sacred Bones — Kickstarter. It’s a great project to recreate a classic book, and it will be a boon to many people if it gets off the ground. Anyone interested in the visual arts should check it out and contribute some way if you can.
I hope it’s successful, that the project initiators have 1) their act together 2) actually release something tangible and 3) in a timely manner that is high quality. (Many of my recent Kickstarter projects have failed at 1, 2 and 3.)
Good luck to them.
John Sandoe Books Ltd is just one of the shops shown here:
London’s prettiest and most Instagrammable bookshops | London Evening Standard.
If you love books, this piece in the Standard will have you planning / dreaming of going to London and spending quality time (and money) there.
And what a library! Napoleon had asked for it to be as follows:
The Emperor wishes you to form a traveling library of one thousand volumes in small 12mo and printed in handsome type. It is his Majesty’s intention to have these works printed for his special use, and in order to economize space there is to be no margin to them. They should contain from five hundred to six hundred pages, and be bound in covers as flexible as possible and with spring backs. There should be forty works on religion, forty dramatic works, forty volumes of epic and sixty of other poetry, one hundred novels and sixty volumes of history, the remainder being historical memoirs of every period.
Even with slimmed down books, that is a lot of paper to be carrying around as your conquer Europe and other parts of the world. I’m sure he would have loved the Kindle.
For more details on this library, see: Napoleon’s Kindle: See the Miniaturized Traveling Library He Took on Military Campaigns | Open Culture
I knew that Paris had streets named after politicians and historical figures, but I didn’t know how many Paris streets are named after mathmaticians. Apparently quite a few! Amazing. One more reason to love Paris.
Dover publishers have the best books when it comes to math. If you want to see some of their better ones, see this list.
Published on 9/29 at 9:29 🙂
Bill Gates picks great books to read, and Business Insider has his latest batch here: Bill Gates’ favorite books on science – Business Insider. Unlike other such lists from famous people, I can imagine Gates actually does read all the books he recommends. From other reviewers I’ve read, his book selection is solid.
Not just non-fiction, there is some fiction in there as well.
If you want to read more books but struggle, then I recommend this article: How I Tricked Myself Into Reading More Books. I have applied a number of the lessons in this article and I have gone to reading 2-3 books a year to reading over 20 a year.
Besides the lessons in this article, there are four other methods I use to read more books.
…then what you need is a good list to go through. Here's one List I highly recommend: Every book Barack Obama recommended during his presidency. There's a wide range of books here, and quite a few to chose from. Regardless of what you pick from it, I think you'll be rewarded with a good read.
The Selby has a gorgeous photo shoot of the atelier of Karl Lagerfeld. Anyone who dreams of having a library in their home will love it. The photo above is just a taste: for a feast, see: Karl Lagerfeld at his Atelier in Paris in the selby
You might be surprised (or you might not) to see that much of what top chefs have in their fridges is not all that different than you. If you are skeptical, you should check out this book: Inside Chefs’ Fridges, Europe. Top chefs open their home refrigerators. from TASCHEN Books. If anything, your North American fridge may have alot more in it than the typical smaller European icebox.
The book is worth a look: besides the peek inside, their is also recipes and other things of interest.
If you are interested in books and ebooks in particular, you should read this: On the declining ebook reading experience. Two beliefs I have on this topic:
My Modern Met has some fantastic images of the Klementinum library for anyone (like myself) that gets excited about such things. Here’s a sample:
If you haven’t heard of it, here’s what that site has to say about this fantastic place:
Prague’s Klementinum library was opened in 1722 and has easily become one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. Aside from housing over 20,000 novels for your reading pleasure, this location showcases absolutely stunning Baroque architecture. As you’re perusing various timeworn bookshelves, you can take a moment to look up and see Jan Hiebl’s heavenly, Renaissance-style ceiling paintings. Amongst his work, there are symbolic designs that represent the importance of education, along with fantastic portraits of Jesuit saints. Hiebl’s paintings actually pay homage to the fact that the library was originally a Jesuit university. Many of the school’s rare, 17th-century books are still amongst its collection today. That would explain why Emperor Joseph II’s portrait is displayed at the head of the hall, since he was the one who arranged for abolished monastic libraries to send their books to Klementinum.
Easy: check out BlogTO’s great list of The Best Used Bookstores in Toronto. Two of my favorites bookstores are BMV books and Ten Editions, both close to each other. I highly recommend them. Even if you know of some of them, chances are you haven’t been to them all.
Toronto has alot of great stores for new books, but if you are looking for vintage or obscure books, this list is what you need.
(Photo via a link to BlogTO)
If “read more” is one of your New Year Resolutions, then Austin Kleon has 33 short pieces of advice on how to read more and read better that you should review, here: 33 thoughts on reading.
I am trying to adopt most of these. I have adopted many of them and the result has been much more reading by me for the last few years. I think the more of these you adopt, the more reading you will get done.
There is so much good about this piece by Zadie Smith that if I started pulling in quotes from it, I would essentially replicate it. It’s an effortless read, and yet even as I was reading it, I could feel how great it is. I had the feeling of racing down a high mountain on skis, exhilarated and impressed by the beauty and amazed how fast I am going and then it is done.
So, yes, I recommend you read: Find Your Beach by Zadie Smith | The New York Review of Books.
My previous post was a guide to reading Piketty’s Capital. As I was going through it, I also jotted down some rough notes on the book and things I thought as I was going along. My marginalia, so to speak. Here it is, for what it’s worth to you:
As you are reading it, you will likely have your own notes and marginalia. Let me know what you think.
You are looking at buying Piketty’s Capitalism, or maybe you already bought it, but you are daunted by it. Having read it, I can say it is daunting in parts, but it is also great. I highly recommend you get it and read it from front to back. Some of you will have no problem with that. For the rest, I put together this modest guide on how best to read it and finish it and not get bogged down and put it aside.
The introduction is an easy read. If anything, it is highly approachable. Piketty is a good writer, and he does a number of things to make it easy to read. (For example, he brings in a lot of literary references. He also does not assume you are an economist.) For the first 100 pages I thought: why is everyone having difficulty with this book….it’s fun! (Mind you, I am interested in economics, but still….) What I’d say is that this introduction is a good introduction not only to the book but the field of economics in general. Don’t be fooled though: the rest of the book is not as easy to read.
Of the book’s four sections, the first and last are the most approachable for non-economists. Emergency tip: if you are getting bogged down in the middle of the book, feel free to skip to the last section. Reading the first and last section is still rewarding, and you can read the last section without reading the middle. (Not ideal, of course, but better than skipping the last section all together).
That said, there are great passages in the middle, and there are some slow sections in the front and back. (Don’t entirely skip the middle, and likewise, don’t be thrown off by some harder parts in the front or back.) Here’s some examples of what I mean:
While non-economists might want to skip over it, I found his history of data collection — around page 55 — interesting. He is following in the footsteps of some of these other figures in the field of economics while also showing the limits of what analysis can be done, given the lack of data. I think this is an important thing to read if you read his critics. Piketty is aware of the limits of his analysis: something you would not think by reading his critics like I have. It’s good to know this. Also, this supports the case that Piketty makes later in section 4 on why a global capital tax would not just be good for states and a check on capitalism, but also as a way of improving the field of economics. Try to read this part.
Generally, the sections of the book on growth, income and capital are interesting infor the long term perspective they give. I found those worthwhile.
The second section is a good take on how capital has changed over the centuries. If you are going to think about capital and capitalism, it’s worth reading the second section on this history. There were radical changes in capital from the 18th century to the 20th, as capital went from being largely agricultural land or largely housing. In the United States another big capital shift occurred as human capital in the form of slaves rightly disappeared after the American civil war. So, I liked this section: it got me thinking about capital in ways I hadn’t before.
I highly recommend you don’t skim the part on the relationship between slavery and capitalism in around page 158. The value of slaves as part of the overall wealth of the US south is incredible, and the effect the Civil War would have on rightly destroying such capital was significant. You can rightly argue that slaves are human beings and not capital, but from the point of view of the slave owner, they were as much capital as machinery or barns or land. A thought provoking section, I found.
Of the middle section, make sure you read page 166 where Piketty introduces his law of capitalism. Piketty’s laws are a key part of the book. Also at the beginning of page 237 the book moves away from the data to talk about inequality and there is more approachable analysis. For example, around this point of the book, Piketty provides a good analysis of labor vs capital, class, and an insightful review of inequality. In particular his analysis around super managers and super salaries is really good and highly relevant in our times. (I think it also got up the nose of some Silicon Valley types, which I found fascinating.)
Make sure you read the section of the book on inequality: I found it to be one of the better parts of the book.
Overall, beware of section two. In this section, Piketty looks at capital in various parts of the world. If you are an economist, then you really want to focus on this section, because he is making a case for his central idea. However, for a general reader, you might become fatigued in the middle of this part as it tends to feel repetitive. By the way, I think this repetitiveness is really supportive of Piketty’s point. He can argue: hey! look there is a consistency here we can make some conclusions about. If you already support his point, skim away.
If you are skimming madly in the middle, slow down as you get to page 400.
I took a lot more notes towards the end of the book (in the 400s) and I thought this section readable and interesting. For example, in the 400s, Piketty deals with merit. I believe a lot of critics don’t like the book because of how Piketty places limits on virtues of merit and hard work. Piketty argues you can work hard to get rich but someone with a lot of capital can get as rich or much richer with little if any effort. He goes on to show that capitalism is structured such that the rich will…well, get richer. Which means that proportionally the poor get poor. You may believe the rich get richer: here’s the argument as why in a capitalism society that happens.
The other thing I like about the 400s is that Piketty bring in literary examples again. He does that in the first section, and he does it again here, and I found whenever he does this, the book becomes livelier and more interesting.
Still reading? At the last section? Good! In the last section, Piketty focuses on the importance of regulating capital. Now, I am skeptical of what he recommends, even though it is hardly revolutionary (literally or figuratively). Maybe it will happen in the 22nd century. I am willing to believe it will happen, thought. After all, progressive income tax is a fairly new thing, and taxes themselves will continue to evolve, just like they have for centuries. Likewise, freer trade has increased dramatically in the 20th century, and other taxes like VAT taxes have made a big impact. Perhaps a global tax would not be impossible. That said, you should read the last section, because to not do so would be to miss out on a key point of the book.
Ok, that’s my modest guide to reading Piketty’s Capital. Did I convince you to give it a try? Great! Give it a go! If you can avoid the pitfalls in the middle, you’ll find yourself cruising towards the end and find you are done sooner than you think. Book completion aside, when you finish Piketty’s Capital you’ll have a much better understanding of capital in the 21st and capitalism in general. I think this important, because even if you don’t want to think about capitalism, capitalism affects us all. Knowing more about it, knowing how to think about it, and having ideas on how to change it are valuable.
There was a lot of talk when Cory Archangel published the book above. Essentially it is a collection of tweets from others tweeting about…well, working on their novel! It’s clever, but it made me think that it is just the beginning of works of arts that could be mined from the colossal amount of tweets each day. There’s gold in there amongst all the twitter rage and minutiae about people’s day. It deserves better.
Meanwhile, more about that book, here: A Novel Compiled From Crowd Sourced Tweets About Writing A Novel | MAKE.