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, 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.