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Reading Matters: Five Centuries of Discovering Books
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Reading Matters: Five Centuries of Discovering Books

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  19 ratings  ·  5 reviews
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 relationship ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published November 25th 2008 by Yale University Press (first published October 21st 2008)
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Mark Feltskog
As a work of historical scholarship, this is without question a first-rate, five-star book. It is exhaustively researched and documented. My review is highly subjective, and reflects what I found to be some tedious and repetitious aspects of the prose and narrative. I have fussed over my assessment of this book for the past couple of days, and in the end decided to qualify my less than complimentary "stars" rating with one simple fact: Margaret Willes is a first-rate historian, and a first rate ...more
Theophanu
Amazing how such a seemingly dry subject as the history of publishing and selling books can be so absorbing. She brings forth interesting historical characters I had never heard of before (with some notable exceptions), and leaves me richer for knowing about them. Very well written, and absolutely to be recommended.
Erin
Nonfiction about the libraries of Brits (and the occasional American) and their book buying habits, as well as the customs of the day. Packed full of examples but not much else. A good reminder that books have traditionally been a (male) luxury item and the popularity of fiction is a relatively new phenomenon.
Sarah
Really should get something like 2.5 stars. I liked a lot of the information in this book, but the writing was WAY less analytical than it needed to be. Pretty disappointing as an academic analysis, and not whimsical ENOUGH to just qualify as a fun book about books.
Debye
Mar 11, 2009 Debye rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: other bibliophiles
Shelves: library-stuff
a fascinating looks at printing, publishing and book collecting over the last 5 centuries. this is UK-centric but still a thoroughly enjoyable read if one is interested in the history of books
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Margaret Willes studied modern history and architectural history at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She was an editor at three London publishing houses before becoming the Publisher at the National Trust, where she began the Trust's own book imprint. In addition to producing the list that included many illustrated books, she also acted as the author of works such as Memories of Childhood (1997) and Sc ...more
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