Staff Book Suggestions Winter and Spring 2023
Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts by Christopher De Hamel
(Library of Congress Classification Z106.5.E85 D44 2016)
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to go to Trinity College, Dublin, and ask to turn the pages of the Book of Kells in person? Christopher De Hamel, one of the world’s leading experts on medieval manuscripts, is one of a handful of people who has ever had that opportunity. With wit and insight he tells the story of that remarkable book, and of 11 more of the most famous illuminated manuscripts in the world. His personable, engaging prose sparkles like the burnished gold leaf that illuminates these books’ painted pages. Along the way, he makes new discoveries that could only be made by an actual physical examination of such manuscripts as the Codex Amiatinus—the earliest surviving complete one-volume Latin Bible, and the Hours of Jeanne de Navarre—one of the most spectacular illuminated manuscripts ever produced. Every book I’ve ever read by De Hamel has been wonderful; I’ve been enjoying this one with special pleasure!
Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata
(Library of Congress Classification PZ3 .K1775 Sn)
This short book, by a Nobel Prize winning Japanese author, takes place at a hot spring in a rural town popular for hiking and skiing. It tells the story of a doomed love affair between a wealthy Tokyo intellectual and a geisha. The book combines mesmerizing descriptions, particularly of the natural world, with characters sketched in quick brushstrokes.
Fortune Favors the Dead by Stephen Spotswood
(Library of Congress Classification PZ4 .S765 Fo 2020)
I loved this mystery, the first of a new series. The main characters are female versions of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin written with much flair and wit. There is a great plot and lots of stylish dialogue. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next two novels!
Kindred by Octavia Butler
(Library of Congress Classification PZ4 .B98666 Ki 2003)
Watching a commercial for a new television show based on this book inspired me to read Octavia Butler’s novel Kindred. The time-traveling narrative highlights slavery as a nexus event, the effects of which ripple through American history and continue to impact the present. An exciting, thought-provoking, and emotional read as relevant now as it was in 1979 when it was first published.
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
(Library of Congress Classification PZ4 .G1414 No 2017)
I bought this book as a holiday gift for my sibling and couldn’t resist reading before gifting it. The winter weather is a good match for Norse mythology and Gaiman’s prose revives these ancient tales while keeping the original feel of the stories.
After reading this, I now feel an urge to compare to Gaiman’s source materials which, happily, are also available at BA!
The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson, translated from the Icelandic
(Cutter Classification VCYL .Ed21 .E .b)
The Elder or Poetic Edda by Edda Sæmundar
(Cutter VCY .8V69)
The Posthumous Papers of the Manuscripts Club by Christopher De Hamel
(Library of Congress Classification ND2900 .D44 2022)
I enjoyed his first thick book Meeting Remarkable Manuscripts, about his studying iconic medieval illuminated books, and I’m looking forward to settling in on the love seat with his follow-up about the collectors of those books over the centuries. This seems like it would pair well with a reread of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, or maybe Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time.