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Reading Matters: Five Centuries of…
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Reading Matters: Five Centuries of Discovering Books (original 2008; edition 2010)

by Margaret Willes

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139186,313 (4)1
Member:konallis
Title:Reading Matters: Five Centuries of Discovering Books
Authors:Margaret Willes
Info:New Haven, Conn. ; London : Yale University Press, 2010.
Collections:Read but unowned
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Tags:history, books, libraries, read 2017

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Reading Matters: Five Centuries of Discovering Books by Margaret Willes (2008)

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In 'Reading Matters', Margaret Willes explores the history of reading - or, because history is fundamentally based on records, the history of people buying books. In 9 chapters, chronologically arranged from the 15th to the 20th century, she tells the stories of several booklovers and the libraries they built during their lives. Some of the chapters are centered on notorious bibliophiles (Samuel Pepys, Thomas Jeffersen or John Soane), but others start from less familiar territory (Bess of Hardwick, for example). We meet not only the book collectors but also their families, friends, booksellers and occasionally publishers. The chapter on former defence secretary Denis Healey and his wife Edna for example also chronicles the rise of the pocket book in the 20th century.
Although anekdotes form an important part of the book, 'Reading Matters' is far from anekdotal. The author succeeds in giving a vivid description of 'what it must have been like' to buy books in, say, the Georgian era - if you were a rich baronet, that is. The common reader is generally (though not completely) underrepresented, which may of course be caused by the scarcity of sources but also by the tendency of the author to look for her historic readers in libraries managed by the National Trust. Anyone looking for information on the so-called 'common reader' will be better of reading William St.Clairs masterpiece 'The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period' (which, by the way, encompasses the whole period from the late 15th up to the early 20th century). Let there be no doubt, however, that they will find more pleasure in Margaret Willis' 'Reading Matters'. ( )
1 vote Steven_VI | Sep 7, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0300127294, Hardcover)

It is easy to forget in our own day of cheap paperbacks and mega-bookstores that, until very recently, books were luxury items. Those who could not afford to buy had to borrow, share, obtain secondhand, inherit, or listen to others reading. This book examines how people acquired and read books from the sixteenth century to the present, focusing on the personal relationships between readers and the volumes they owned. Margaret Willes considers a selection of private and public libraries across the period—most of which have survived—showing the diversity of book owners and borrowers, from country-house aristocrats to modest farmers, from Regency ladies of leisure to working men and women.

Exploring the collections of avid readers such as Samuel Pepys, Thomas Jefferson, Sir John Soane, Thomas Bewick, and Denis and Edna Healey, Margaret Willes also investigates the means by which books were sold, lending fascinating insights into the ways booksellers and publishers marketed their wares. For those who are interested in books and reading, and especially those who treasure books, this book and its bounty of illustrations will inform, entertain, and inspire.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:43 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"This book examines how people acquired and read books from the sixteenth century to the present, focusing on the personal relationships between readers and the volumes they owned. Margaret Willes considers a selection of private and public libraries across the period - most of which have survived - showing the diversity of book owners and borrowers, from country-house aristocrats to modest farmers, from Regency ladies of leisure to working men and women." "Exploring the collections of avid readers such as Samuel Pepys, Thomas Jefferson, Sir John Soane, Thomas Bewick and Denis and Edna Healey, Margaret Willes investigates the means by which books were sold, lending insights into the ways booksellers and publishers marketed their wares. For those who are interested in books and reading, and especially those who treasure books, this book and its many illustrations will inform, entertain and inspire."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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Yale University Press

2 editions of this book were published by Yale University Press.

Editions: 0300127294, 0300164041

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