I have learned a lesson. Never trust a book excerpt posted on the internet. After reading and posting about the excerpt at Slate of Andrew Piper’s book Book Was There: Reading in Electronic Times, I completely disagreed with Piper and thought his argument choppy and lame. But, I thought, this is an excerpt and maybe the book is better. So I requested it from the library and my turn came up at the end of last week. I am so glad I trusted my intuition because the book has turned out to be nothing like what I was expecting and it’s pretty good too. The excerpt at Slate is taken from the first chapter, totally skewed and edited to provoke. Why am I surprised by that?
I’m not going to write about the whole book at the moment, today I am only going to give you a little tease.
Piper has a chapter in the book in which he discusses the relationship between books and trees and space. Did you know that the English word “book” came from the German “Buch” and that “Buch” was derived from the word for beech tree? In India, the word for book is derived from the word for a birch tree. The Latin word “codex” comes from the word for the trunk of a tree. No wonder we talk about the “leaves” of books!
But wait, there’s more!
The Greek, “biblion” gives us “Bible” and “bibliography” and a whole bunch of other “biblio” words. It comes from the name of the Phoenician town of Byblus which was a major exporter of papyrus in the day.
Aren’t word origins great fun?
More about Book Was There tomorrow.
On a side note, thank you all for your kind words and condolences about my grandma. I am touched and blessed.