Mysteries of the Mercantile


One of those intriguing fragments found folded in the pages of a Mercantile Library book that reminds you of just how many sets of eyes have traveled those pages before you.  Don’t worry, we won’t put on the blog anything you leave in a book .  Clever Betsy by Clara Louise Burnham and Sally Bishop weren’t published until 1910.  My guess is that this reading list is almost 100 years old.  Many Merc members keep reading lists today.  I’ll leave the questions of how and why we read to Sven Birkerts and friends, but certainly, we do it for many reasons and, confronted by our own mortality in relation to speed, personal vagaries and vicissitudes, trash-urge vs. trash-threshold, it amounts to a pretty complex equation that is best forgotten.  Who was Mrs. R. Levi, patron L 37, and what made her tick?  Did she ever read The Militants, or was it perhaps not to her taste? What’s on your reading list?

-Ed Scripsi

Published in: on May 8, 2008 at 10:48 am  Comments (2)  

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  1. What’s on my reading list? Oh, so many books and so little time! First, I must admit that I’m a bit odd when it comes to reading… The process goes something like this: I hear about an interesting book, purchase it, and soon thereafter begin reading it; but then, all too often, I abruptly stop somewhere around half way through. This usually isn’t in any way a reflection on the book. Rather, I’ve probably gotten interested in another book in the meantime and started reading it instead. So I have a full shelf of half-read books at home. Maybe I’m borderline schizophrenic, wanting to read about five different topics at once but only having the time for one. I may begin a book on current politics, but then decide I’d better invest some time in reading within my own discipline, so I start a book on ecology, but then I wistfully think of lazy days spent reading a fantasy, so I embark on yet another book. I should tell you, Mr. Scripsi, that I did FINISH reading “Last Chance to See” a month or so ago, which was an excellent book. I’m currently reading “The Assault on Reason” by Al Gore – a very interesting book about how politicians and the media manipulate our thinking. And what’s next…? I’m going to try to be disciplined and finish the Gore book, but after that, I’m planning to study the concept of “deep ecology” in “Ecology, Community and Lifestyle: Outline of an Ecosophy” by Arne Naess, but on the other hand, I’m also in the mood for some humorous commentaries on the human predicament, so I might end up reading some of Mark Twain’s essays.

  2. Wow, that’s a heckuva list. Assault on Reason is on its way to the library for a couple of patrons, so I might check that out. You can never go wrong with Twain! Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with reading haltingly around the spectrum. Words are, after all, fixed to the page. They’re not going anywhere.

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