Patience and Fortitude: Wherein a Colorful Cast of Determined Book Collectors, Dealers, and Librarians Go About the Quixotic Task of Preserving a Legacy by Nicholas A. Basbanes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I love books. I really do. And I love bookstores and libraries and book people in general. So, it makes sense that I would love this book.
Nicholas Basbanes also wrote A Gentle Madness, a book I stumbled upon in my public library a few years ago and fell in love with. So, I picked this one up and read it with glee. It’s over 20 years old and reading it for me was like a trip to my professional past as a librarian. The arguments librarians, their administrators, and the public had decades ago brought back so much angst for me.
I’m happy to say that some of these questions have been settled, sort of. Back then, some people saw the future of libraries in digital materials. They were ready to turn print lose to perish or thrive entirely in the wild. However, most people now realize that the demand for print books isn’t going away soon.
But libraries aren’t the only thing Basbanes discusses in this book. He talks about the people who collect rare books and the people who sell them. I don’t live with the kind of money he’s talking about, so I don’t keep up with the rare book market. But that doesn’t mean I don’t find it captivating as any self-respecting bibliophile would.
I admit to gushing a bit in this review. While reading about all these private, academic, and extensive public book collections was like a fairytale for me. It felt like reading Victoria magazine as a newlywed, setting up housekeeping, and dreaming of the possibilities. While I’ll never have room to store 50,000 volumes in my house, Basbanes has me dreaming of how that would look. And that’s almost as good as actually having it.