Books


"Of making books there is no end" said Ecclesiastes a few millenia ago, and we can only hope he is right. The computer screen is a poor substitute for a three dimensional real thing.( Is it possible to read a novel on a screen?) Full length novels exist on the internet but to what advantage I am not sure. However, when a work of literature is searchable, as with Shakespeare and William Blake, the advantage as a research tool is clear, but hardly as a substitute for a live book. Retail books have grown expensive, but fortunately, in one sense, books remain as undervalued as ever, and it is quite possible to devolop a meaningful personal library with very few dollars. The cheapest source is to attend the fund-raising book sales. A few in the Amherst area:

The IODE booksale usually held in late September in Sackville N.B.
The large Moncton sale held each May at the curling club just off George St.
The Truro sale usually held at the old Teachers' College Campus, usually the week after the Moncton sale.
Your local library which discards books unread over a certain number of years.

Books are so marvellously undervalued in Canada that it is possible to find copies of Plato, Homer, Virgil, Shakespeare, Dante, Twain, Chaucer, for as little as a quarter. I can have a year's worth of reading and a lifetime's worth of wisdom for the cost of a movie.

A second source of books at reasonable prices is the many second hand shops. Closest to home is Amy's Used Books next to Take Two Video. The sheer number of books in here is staggering. Mr Patriquin, the shop owner, has a list of the second hand book dealers in the Maritimes and may have copies to give out. Walter Newcombe's stall at the Amherst Flea Market near the train station offers far fewer books, but the quality is high and the prices reasonable. Some of my favourites in other towns follow. Attic Owl in Moncton is just shy of the underpass on the way to Highfield Square. It would be hard to find a neater shop than this one replete with reading chairs, chess table, and washrooms. In Halifax the most dramatic shop is J W Doull on Barrington just before the legislature. The building is impressive and they have taken care to present the books in pleasing ways. There is a "secret" room behind a wall of books. In it is a large collection of mylar wrapped first editions for the collector with a few more dollars than the average student. Schooner Books is the original used book shop, on Inglis near Barrington (not far from the railway station or St Mary's). It is an excellent store with reasonable prices as is Back Pages - my favorite name for a used book store (the neo-Dylan fans will recognize the allusion)- found on Queen St, just off Spring Garden Road. Happy hunting, but please don't get in my way at the next book sale!


The Idea of Books

  • W.H. Auden's Aphorisms on Reading

  • W.H. Auden's Aphorisms on Writing

  • Joseph Brodsky on Reading

  • Sven Birkerts invites you to consider the "Stages of Reading" itself

  • William H. Gass In Defense of The Book: an argument for the Book's survival in the face of e-books

  • Philip Larkin on Books

  • Cynthia Ozick outlines the relationship between novels and "innerness."

  • Roger Shattuck's 5 Rules for Reading Books

  • Why Read the Classics? Roger Scruton reviews books by Italo Calvino and Amos Oz which provide answers

  • Ron Mwangaguhunga makes the case that Great Books transcend cultural differences

  • "The Case Against Biography": Michael Holroyd classifies and excoriates biographers: or does he?

  • Defending the Fairy Tale "as she was wrote." Susan Perren, who reviews children's books bi-weekly for the Globe&Mail, castigates Munch and Bettleheim, while reviving the seven deadly sins.

  • John Lanchester's "High Style" reviews the evidence on the influence of drugs on literature


    Authors and Their Books

  • Anthony Burgess's List of the 99 Best Books from 1939-1984

  • Saul Bellow, the Nobel Winner with the Canadian connection, gets high praise from James Woods

  • Albert Camus's Argument Against Capital Punishment (and its critics)

  • Conrad's Influence
  • Joseph Epstein on The Art of Joseph Conrad
  • Essay on Heart of Darkness by B. Bauld
  • Notes for the Study of Heart of Darkness by B. Bauld
  • A Plan to "divide and conquer" the topic of "Marlow's Lie" in Heart of Darkness (B. Bauld)
  • Maria Alvarez gives a fine introduction to the deeper themes of Heart of Darkness in her "A Journey in Quest of Self"
  • Archetypes in Heart of Darkness-a Jungian perspective
  • The Buddha Postures in Heart of Darkness
  • Kenyan Chinua Achebe's much debated essay where he charges Heart of Darkness with racism, calling it an "offensive and deplorable book"
  • Wilson Harris of Guyana contrasts the "intuitive self" versus the "sovereign ego" in defending Conrad against Achebe
  • Vince Pissaro defends Heart of Darkness against the new moralism
  • Richard Yatzeck offers an insightful, if grim, assessment of Marlow's lie.
  • Grass Imagery in Heart of Darkness
  • Conrad's White Collars in Heart of Darkness
  • Jared Diamond reviews the evidence for cannibalism and the reasons for its denial
  • Leopold of Belgium, Emperor of the Congo
  • Mark Twain's "King Leopold's Soliloquy" - the humourist's approach to evil
  • Search for keywords in Heart oif Darkness
  • Alexander Solzhenitsyn's "heart of darkness" in the Gulag

  • G. K. Chesterton discusses Charles Dickens' Great Expectations
  • Classroom Notes for Great Expectations including the major themes and useful page references for the Signet Classic edition (B. Bauld)

  • "Unlicensed Metaphysics: a review of three books by Annie Dillard

  • Read Ivan Karamazov's dream/poem of The Grand Inquisitor (6 pp)where Christ returns to the time of the Spanish Inquisition. (Then go on to read one of the world's greatest novels: The Brothers Karamazov)

  • H. G. Wells reviews A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in 1917
  • Notes onA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  • Joyce's Villanelle in Portrait of the Artist...
  • Joyce's Women in Portrait of the Artist...

  • Thought Reform 101: Alan Kors reports that U. S. campuses are in the business of teaching 2+2=5 a la Orwell's 1984
  • Bjorn Lomberg at the Stake: Orwellian attacks from the Ministry of Environmental Truth Enforcers
  • Robert Conquest's Introduction to his Reflections on a Ravaged Century considers the impulses that lead to totalitarian nightmare
  • On The Black Book of Communism: A lengthy and horrific review of the great utopian experiment. If you are reading Orwell's Animal Farm or 1984, you will need this to chasten the idealism found in the Communist Manifesto
  • Hilton Kramer offers further, and briefer, observations on The Black Book of Communsim

  • Plato's Allegory of the Cave from The Republic

  • George Steiner on Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

  • An Interview with Annie Proulx of The Shipping News
  • An Amazing Annie Proulx short story: The Half-Skinned Steer
  • Annie Proulx on the Craft of Prose

  • Jonathan Swift: an entertaining review of a biography by Victoria Gledinning


    Rex Murphy, gladiator from the East, and his Cross Country Check-up Reading Lists

  • Winter '99
  • Summer '99
  • Winter '98
  • Summer '98
  • Winter '97
  • Summer'97
  • Winter'96
  • Summer'96
  • Winter '95
  • Summer '95
  • Here is the total list of Booklists via Rex's Cross Country Check-up as well as much more on the King himself
  • A Recent Take on Rex Murphy

  • "Come in equivocator" will never fit Rex Murphy. Here is unequivocal praise for Brontasaurus Bardolator Bloom's new book on Shakespeare


  • Prize Winners: Nobel; Pulitzer; Booker; and others

  • Modern Library's List of 100 Best Novels of Twentieth Century
  • a background on the 100 Best panel and how they chose

  • One Hundred writers Pick the 100 Best Books of this century + a look at a list made in 1900 for its previous century.

  • The Globe and Mail readers pick their top 20 of the 20th century

  • The 100 Greatest Minds of the Millenium See how many authors made this list

  • Roger Shattuck chooses ten significantly CANDID books of all time
  • Roger Shattuck chooses ten significantly PERVERSE books of all time

  • Image is a journal of religion and the arts. Here is their list of the top 100 books of the century

  • Harold Bloom on the Junior Canon


    Short Stories (not part of Network assignment)

  • Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" - remember this one?

  • Ernest Hemingway's "A Clean Well-Lighted Place" - and story too.

  • Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants"

  • D. H. Lawrence's "The Horse Dealer's Daughter"

  • Katherine Mansfield's "The Garden Party"

  • A William Faulkner masterpiece: "Barn Burning"


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