With technology providing many of us with easy research tools and downloadable books, we may not visit our local library as often as we used to. This month, though, you have the perfect excuse to get reacquainted with an old friend. Yes, it’s Library Lovers Month. Book lovers, take a moment to celebrate! Stop by your local or campus library, appreciate the resources it has to offer and check out some library books (pun intended).
Libraries have been around for centuries, but those in the United States date back to the 18th century when Benjamin Franklin provided the first social library, and William Rand opened the first circulating library. It wasn’t until the 19th century, though, that Horace Mann pushed for libraries in schools. Compiled together, this library history evolved into the structures we know and love today.
Unfortunately, the emergence of the Internet and the decline of funding have left libraries in desperate need. While financial contributions are always helpful — and tax deductible — there are other ways to support your library:
- Donate your used books or purchase a best seller and drop it off at your local library.
- Volunteer to help shelve books, check out patrons or read to preschoolers during story times.
- Join or start a Friends of the Library group.
We at Questia think that libraries — and books in general — are pretty fantastic, so we have compiled a list of five books that are all about, well, books. The best part is that we are granting free access to these works that focus on some of the best that literature has to offer.
Author Vincent Starrett begins this book by informing his readers: “THIS is not a history of literature; it is a book of gossip” (7). In this chronicle, the author tackles many different literary genres, including detective fiction, ghost stories and popular romances. Within the pages of text, the author explains how such novels became popular throughout the ages, and, in some cases, delves into mysterious circumstances surrounding literary history — like the unresolved murder of the infamous Christopher Marlowe.
[Starrett, Vincent. (1940). Books Alive: A Profane Chronicle of Literary Endeavor and Literary Misdemeanor. New York: Random House. Retrieved from http://www.questia.com.]
Author John Sutherland teams up with cartoonist Martin Rowson to question — sometimes humorously — some of the most famous characters in literature. Featuring Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (“How does Victor make his monsters?”) and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (“Who betrays Elizabeth Bennet?”), among others, the author delves into the unknown parts of novels and provides his own answers to some of literature’s most intriguing plots.
[Sutherland, John. (1996). The Literary Detective: 100 Puzzles in Classic Fiction. New York: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.questia.com.]
Author Jane Mallison provides a list of over 120 books that she would recommend to her friends. For anyone who has ever been at a loss for what to read next, this author offers a large scope of titles and provides a brief summary and light commentary on all of them. A few of her favorites include The Things They Carried, The Importance of Being Earnest and The Metamorphosis.
[Mallison, Jane. (2008). Book Smart: Your Essential Reading List for Becoming a Literary Genius in 365 Days. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.questia.com.]
If you have ever wondered which books famous Americans (both past and present) get their guilty pleasures from, then author John A. McCrossan has answers for you. Stars featured include Humphrey Bogart, with his obsession with murder mysteries, and Oprah Winfrey, whose love of reading helped her broaden her horizons and learn to better appreciate her heritage. This is a book about more than just literary works; it also tells the stories of some of the world’s most influential people.
[McCrossan, John A. (2000). Books and Reading in the Lives of Notable Americans: A Biographical Sourcebook. Westport: Greenwood Press. Retrieved from http://www.questia.com.]
Best known for Gulliver’s Travels, author Jonathan Swift compiles an essay, some poems and a few satires in this anthology. It is the parodies, however — namely the first one — that discuss the importance, or lack thereof, of certain works of literature. In “A Full and True Account of the Battle Fought Last Friday Between the Ancient and the Modern Books in Saint James’ Library.” the books in question actually take up arms and fight. Maybe this will finally put to rest the debate of modern or ancient literature. Then again, maybe not.
[Swift, Jonathan. (1909). The Battle of the Books: And Other Short Pieces. New York: Cassell and Company, Limited. Retrieved from http://www.questia.com]