Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Bookbinding as a Metaphor for Learning


Andrew Wilson advocates the art of bookbinding to teaching religious studies:

Sacred texts are continually being created and recreated, unbound and repackaged, unfurled and gathered up. Bookbinding manifests an applied, even somatic, example of these textual journeys. In a world of e-books and hypertext, one might consider bookbinding a quaint if not archaic practice, but that would overlook it as a very practical way of participating in the text. It involves doing something that actively shapes and changes the text. As the binder works the pages with their hands, the text literally takes on characteristics of changeability, pliability, and plasticity. (Andrew P. Wilson, "Teaching Religion by the Book: Bookbinding as a Metaphor for Learning," on the Blog of the Wabash Center, February 2, 2022)

He goes on to describe how engaging a student in creating books provides the means "to bind her learning journey, her experience, and her identity into a space that was richly layered and uniquely hers."

Dorina Miller Parmenter has long advocated book making and book binding in religious studies pedagogy: see the interview with her, The Religious Book as Object, on this blog.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Owning vs Reading Books


Danika Ellis ("Books and Reading Are Two Different Hobbies," BookRiot, Jan 17, 2022) provides an insightful and rare description of how personal interactions with books differentiate between their semantic and iconic dimensions (my language, not hers):

My life is built on a foundation of books. But reading? Mm…I could take it or leave it. 

... Books, though? Books are my favorite hobby. They require nothing from me. I can stare contentedly at them and fantasize about an incredible library. I can design reading futures for myself without flipping a single page. I can participate in the bookish online community even if I’ve been in a reading slump for weeks (or months, or years). Books are always there for me, and being bookish continues to be one of my defining traits.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

The popularity of library images



 Kate Dwyer in the New York Times (Jan 15, 2022) identfies a popular picture of a book-stuffed private library as depicting the library of the late Johns Hopkins professor, Richard Macksey. But her article is mostly about the internet popularity of library images:

The library image sidesteps all those details to evoke something more universal, said Ingrid Fetell Lee, the author of the Aesthetics of Joy, a blog about the relationship between d├ęcor and delight. “We’re attracted to the image, and we come up with all sorts of stories about who it might be and what it might be because we love to tell stories,” she said. “But what’s really driving the attraction is much more visceral.”

Ms. Fetell Lee pointed to the photo’s sense of abundance. “There’s something about the sensorial abundance of seeing lots of something that gives us a little thrill,” she said. Also relevant: the “satisfying” sense of organized chaos, and the awe inspired by the high ceilings.

Pictures of books and libraries are popular across social platforms. A representative from Instagram said that some of the top-liked posts on the platform that include the words “library” or “libraries” feature large quantities of books, a “cozy” aesthetic or a warmer color scheme.