A Few Science-Related Book
I took some pictures in the basement today. Not surprisingly, where there are lots of things to photograph, few of them are really all that interesting. Recently I’ve gotten a few new (used, thanks, Iris) bookcases and I’ve been able to get books that have been doubled up on shelves or that have been stacked on their sides into those shelves. They are not, for the most part, in any order. There are seven shelves of science fiction, which are alphabetized by author. Most of my Kipling collection (18 books) is on one shelf (there are a few large books that are on another shelf). I’ve started the process of bringing the technical reference books together. Here we have, from left to right:
- My dad’s copy of Elenents of the Differential and Integral Calculus (Revised Edition) by Granville, Smith, and Longley
- My grandfather’s copy of Handbook of Mathematical Tables and Formulas, by Burington
- Two editions (the 9th and 31st) of the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics
- Another Handbook of Chemistry (Eighth Edition), by Lange
- The Merck Manual, (Fourteenth Edition)
- Ribonucleases: Structures and Functions, Edited by D’ Alessio and Riordan. Dad wrote chapter two of this book, titled “Barnase and Barstar”
- Methods in Enzymology, Volume 341, Ribonucleases, Part A, edited by Nicholson. Dad wrote chapter 38 in this book, on Barnase—Barstar Interaction
Book of the Black Bass
The Book of the Black Bass, by James A. Henshall, M.D., was first published in 1881. The Preface to the 1881 edition includes begins as follows:
This book owes its origin to a long-cherished desire on the part of the author, to give to the Black Bass its proper place among game fishes, and to create among anglers, and the public generally, an interest in a fish that has never been so fully appreciated as its merits deserve, because of the want of suitable tackle for its capture, on the one hand, and a lack of information regarding its habits and economic value on the other.
Cathy came across this 1904 edition in her parents’ basement and we decided to keep it, as much for its lovely cover as for it’s fascinating contents. Although this is the 1904 edition, it’s actually from the eighth printing, in 1915. It details, of course, the largemouth and smallmouth bass, Micropterus Salmoides and Micropterus dolomieu, respectively. According to Britanica, there are “about six species” in the genus while Wikipedia claims 14 recognized species. Regardless, it’s the largemouth bass that I’m most familiar with, having them in our pond in Pennsylvania. I’ve only caught smallmouth bass when traveling, most notably in the lakes of east central Ontario.
My New Reading Room
The room isn’t new, of course, but it’s been in the process of becoming my reading room for about 10 months. There were piles of boxes in it and not a lot of space until recently. There are three full and one half height bookcase on the right, five full height against the far wall, and another full and half height on the left wall (off the left side of this photo). Behind where I’m standing is another bookcase that’s the equivalent of three more full height bookcases). The sofa in the lower left, along with most of what’s on it and the wooden chairs in the lower right are all destined to go away. I may get a more comfortable small sofa or futon at some point but the three arm chairs are enough for now. The books need to be organized, of course, and there are going to be at least a few that I get rid of once I see what’s what. But it’s coming along.
Two Shelves of Books
As I mentioned in the text on the recent photo of my reading room, I need to organize the books. We’ll, I’ve begun the process and I have a feeling it’s going to be something of an iterative process and will take a while. There’s no perfect organizational structure and since this is my library, I figure I can organize it in a way that makes sense to me. I started with easier sections, because they’re easier. I have a shelf for Shakespeare, another for poetry (with one book of Shakespeare’s poetical works there, instead of with his plays). There is a shelf for textbooks (some of which we’ll probably get rid of), four shelves of cook books, three shelves of “classic” fiction, where the stories need to have been written at least 100 years old to qualify. In this photo are two shelves that are not really quite complete. The books on the right end of the upper shelf are fourteen of my nineteen Kipling books, more books by a single author than anyone but the Bard of Avon (and copies of the Bible, which is sort of a different category). I’m a big Kipling fan and while I don’t have all of his works, I’ve enjoyed what I do have.
At the left on the lower shelf are almost all of my Modern Library books (War and Peace is too tall for that shelf). Those include older works from Homer, Plato, and Herodotus through Roman Tacitus and up to relatively recent including another Kipling (Kim) and the poems of Robert Frost and The African Queen by C. S. Forester. To the right of that are Pinguin Classics including some Greek plays, Dante, and The Song of Roland. It’s a mishmash and as I said, it may not be the final grouping. But it’s a start.
I know these “shelfies” aren’t really all that interesting but it’s an easy out when I haven’t taken a picture. Work continues to e quite busy and I’m finding it hard to get out during the day. That means I have to take a picture somewhere around the house in the evening, unless I happen to get a nice sunrise or sunset. This is (almost) one third of a large bookcase that I built when Cathy and I were first married and we had it in our apartment in Bethesda. Ralph had it in his basement while we lived in Alaska and while we were traveling. After we got back, I had it in our apartment and then in our two houses. It’s very sturdy, with 2×4 supports sandwiched between heavy plywood for the uprights. The shelves are fixed in terms of their location, although the whole thing comes apart for transporting. There is one more tall shelf space below the five shown here and the other two sections are basically the same as this one.
The books on all but the bottom shelf in this photo are cookery books of one sort or another. Some I use a lot, others almost never. I have pulled out some to give away and will probably get rid of some that are still here. I refer to some of these books quite regularly and others quite infrequently but most of the books have contributed at least something to my cooking know how.
On one shelf in the basement we have a bunch of old Bibles. Some quite old. In fact, when David was working here a little over a year ago he joked that it looked like we had some first editions. They aren’t that old, of course, but they go back a ways. The one on the left in this photo, the Scofield Reference Edition, come to us by way of Cathy’s family. It appears to have been owned by Cathy’s grandmother, with the date December 25, 1919 written in the front, and with the names and birth dates of Cathy’s mom and her siblings. The second from the left is a bit of a mystery, as I don’t recognize any of the names. The two on the right come to us through my dad’s family. The one on the right has the birth dates of my great grandfather and his siblings and with a date in 1876 written in the front (although my great grandfather was a teenager by then). The one next to it, with the fancy binding decoration, has an inscription to my great grandmother from her sister, dated 1873. The one lying on top was my mom’s mother’s and is probably from the second decade of the 20th century.
When I was in school, both K through 12 and in college, I was not much of a reader. It wasn’t that I couldn’t read. But I was a slow reader and it took me a long time to get through anything of substance. I don’t think it was because I had a short attention span. It was probably as short as that of many boys but I could focus if I wanted to. The problem was that I didn’t want to. History, among a few other subjects, simply didn’t interest me. Now, things are different. I love history and although I still read slowly, I’m much more likely to be reading history of one sort or another that almost anything else. When I set up my library in the basement I organized my books mostly by subject but there are a few groups of books that are grouped together for other reasons. In the case of these books, they are both historical in nature and unified by their common publisher. To their left (outside this photo) are most of my Modern Library books, also grouped together.
A side note, four of these books, The Song of Roland and the three part Dante series, were all translated by Dorothy Sayers (13 June 1893 – 17 December 1957), famed for her mystery stories.
I’ve been busy with my reading list lately, getting through some books that I’ve been meaning to read for a while now. I started reading Anna Karenin, by Leo Tolstoy, just before Christmas and finished it in early January. I enjoyed it quite a bit, although some of the characters were more likeable than others. After that I tackled The Gulag Archipelago: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. It isn’t an easy book to read but I think it’s an important book, all the more so as we have politicians who clearly admire the Soviet Union at or near the top of a presidential race. This is only the first of three volumes and I have put off volume two for a little while, but it’s waiting for me when I can handle it. I took a little break by reading Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh, which is an enjoyable book and justly popular. I’m currently working my way into Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, which looks to be a bit harder and will certainly take me into February.