Friday, November 24, 2017

FFB: Among the Gently Mad

Rerun alert!

Nicholas Basbanes' A Gentle Madness is one of the best books about book collecting ever written. If you haven't read it, you should just stop reading this, find Basbanes' book, and read it right now.

Among the Gently Mad isn't a sequel, but a complementary volume. It appears to be out of print, which amazed me and which I think qualifies it for the Forgotten Books post. Like all Basbanes' books, it's wonderful.

As you might be able to see in the photo on the left, the subtitle is "Perspectives and Strategies for the Book Hunter of the Twenty-First Century." And that's what it is. Every bit of advice in the book seems to me first-rate. Basbanes is not fond of on-line selling, and he's even less fond of eBay, but he loves Google's search engine, and he's fond of any number of my own favorite Internet sites, like Abebooks.com.

But the book has a lot more than just good advice to offer. One thing I particularly liked was the phrase "a gathering of books." It sounds so much better than "an accumulation." There are wonderful descriptions of book collections Basbanes has seen and of his own collections. There are great book-finding stories. Stories about the collecting habits of many famous and lesser-known book lovers. I found something to like on every single page of this book, and on almost every page felt the shock of recognition.

If you love books, you just can't pass this one up. My highest recommendation.

6 comments:

Dan said...

Thanks Bill, I'll look this up

Mike Stamm said...

I have had both of Basbanes's GENTLE MADNESS books for years--once I finish THE AMBER SPYGLASS, I'll start at least one of 'em. Thanks for the recommendation.

R. K. Robinson said...

I have GENTLE MADNESS but somehow this one slipped my notice. I'm on it now. Thanks, Bill.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I read the first one.

Don Coffin said...

Fortunately readily available from used booksellers.

Mathew Paust said...

Afraid if I read it I'll start buying books again, which would mean buying more bookshelves, which would mean hunting for a larger apartment, which would mean...