Slices of Life in a Library

is a wonderful chapter in Life Sentences: Literary Judgments and Accounts  by William H. Gass.

from page 18 : dipping is great fun, and not a day passes that I don’t blindly pick a prize and then read a page of it to be mystified, informed, surprised, delighted and affronted. When you live in a library you are constantly being solicited by good-looking texts to leave your present love for their different, more novel pleasures… or a book you’ve had since you were young, and forgotten, takes hold of your eye and then pulls open your memory to the days it saved from sadness, and its patient silence since.

and on page 19:

Every one of these books is a friend who will always say the same thing, but who will always seem to mean something new, or something old, or something borrowed, or something blue.

Pocket books

They are fascinating Рwhy are they so small?  and frustrating Рalmost too small to read.

small books on a table

Ten of the tiniest books in my library

I love The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam with its soft blue leather cover, bought at Biccies OpShop in Church St Brighton in 1971. David Hockney illustrated Grimm’s Fairy Tales in the miniature navy bound book, bought in the Metropolitan Museum of Art gift shop in 1981 – this was before MMA opened a store in Melbourne. A couple of the books (Pienkowksi and Campbell) have pop-up pages and the Quilting book has a real size thimble attached to the bookmark.

How the First Letter was Written


Taffimai Metallumai was only trying to help her daddy and made things much, much worse. This would explain my father’s finding it hilarious when he was reading How the First Letter was Written to me.¬† I still find the ‘O Best-Beloveds’ as squirmy as when I first heard them, but Kipling’s captions for his drawings are written precisely from a child-artist perspective.
1936 edition.