Books are far more than the words on their pages. Whether we favour leather tomes or dog-eared paperbacks, what we read and how we read it says a huge amount about us. From illuminated manuscripts to the last edition of the Yellow Pages, books tell us stories about who we are.
“I’m not all that interested in books as things to read. Instead, I want to talk about all the other things that we do to books – and that books do to us. Our books are leading a double life. As well as being containers of words, they are things imbued with their own significance. Their importance … goes far beyond the words or images they contain.”
The Secret Life of Books is about everything that isn’t just the words. It’s about how books transform us as individuals. It’s about how books – and readers – have evolved over time. And it’s about why, even with the arrival of other media, books still have the power change our lives.
Tom Mole brings the expertise he has gathered running Edinburgh University’s Centre for the History of the Book to write an illuminating meditation that looks at everything from binding innovations to binding errors, to books defaced by lovers, to those imprisoning professors in their offices, to books in art, to burned books, to the books that create nations, to those we’ll leave behind.