Content of Charles Darwin's personal library revealed for the first time

I’m always fascinated by these in-depth bibliography efforts, and this one, with its unique 300-page catalog detailing 7,400 titles from Charles Darwin’s library, is nothing short of extraordinary. John van Wyhe, the academic who has led the “overwhelming” endeavour, said it showed the extraordinary extent of Darwin’s research into the work of others. “It also shows how insanely eclectic Darwin was,” Van Wyhe said. “There is this vast sea of things which might be an American or German news clipping about a duck or invasive grasshoppers....

February 15, 2024

Digital books wear out faster than physical books

Brewster Kahle, at The Internet Archive Blogs: Ever try to read a physical book passed down in your family from 100 years ago? Probably worked well. Ever try reading an ebook you paid for 10 years ago? Probably a different experience. From the leasing business model of mega a publishers to physical device evolution to format obsolescence, digital books are fragile and threatened. […] Our paper books have lasted hundreds of years on our shelves and are still readable....

January 30, 2024

Books I read in 2023

I read 24 books for a total of 7070 pages in 2023. That’s seven more books than last year, which is quite an outstanding result considering the seemingly unstoppable decline in book reading I have suffered in recent years. Most have been fiction books, and that’s something new and influential with the final result, as I tend to read non-fiction more slowly. The bad news is that I did not review most of the books I read this year, and that sucks....

December 29, 2023

A few late book reviews

I’ve been reading a few books throughout the summer and needed to be more active in reviewing them here. Rather than writing five individual posts in a row (too lazy for that), I will catch up with this single post. Born to Run 2 I’ve been back to running after a long hiatus, and this book helped me get back on track with the right, lightly-hearted approach. The fundamentals are solid (the barefoot-like technique is the way), the 90-day training plan is a good platform, the nutrition hints are remarkable, and I appreciated the injury-treatment segments....

August 26, 2023

Book Review: La Mossa del Matto (The Fool's Move)

Alessandro Barbaglia’s La mossa del matto (The fool’s move) tries to be three things in one: the life story of chess champion Bobby Fischer, a reconciliation dialogue between author and father, who died too soon, as well the tracing of a daring parallel between Fischer’s relationship with Russian champion Boris Spasskij and that of Achilles and Ulysses of Homeric memory. In our neck of the woods, we say that too much is crippling, and this work runs the risk....

May 19, 2023

Book Review: Disastri (Disasters)

Daniil Charms was considered a children’s author and could not stand children all his life. While his whimsical fairy tales populated illustrated books and magazines, giving him something to live on in the silence of his room, he also feverishly wrote tales for adults, equally imaginative but inhabited by an excruciating melancholy, as in fairy tales went wrong. At the dawn of the USSR, this desperate fantasy of his was tolerable only if it was confined where it was least dangerous, in children’s literature....

May 14, 2023

Book Review: Land and Sea

Land and Sea is an essay in short story form written in 1942 by Carl Schmitt. Subtitled “A consideration of world history told to my daughter Anna,” this essay recounts and summarizes the geo-historical-legal evolution of our planet since the discovery of the New World. The originality of the work lies in the author’s identification of the Earth-Sea dichotomy as the driving force of human history. I went into this book knowing very little about the author, Carl Schmitt, and the contents....

May 1, 2023

Book Review: Medieval Callings

Medieval Callings comprises eleven essays by internationally renowned medieval historians. Somewhat deceptively, only Jacques Le Goff’s prestigious name appears on the front page, as he authored the introductive essay and handpicked and curated the collection. Each piece presents a nuanced profile of a significant social or professional Middle Ages group. Warrior knights, monks, high churchmen, criminals, lepers, shepherds, artists, and prostitutes, all prominent figures of medieval society, are depicted here with great detail....

April 29, 2023

Book Review: Essere Lupo (Being Wolf)

I saw a wolf: that’s the phrase Ulf, a hunter and former forestry inspector now in his seventies, has been brooding, unable to confess to anyone since he spotted a majestic specimen at dawn on the first day of the year. Something clicks inside him, and Ulf, one of the most respected men in the village in deep Sweden where he lives, feels an increasingly solid and intimate connection with the creature....

April 3, 2023

Book Review: No Sleep Till Shengal

Zerocalcare is an Italian cartoonist whose strips, especially in the form of illustrated books, have surged to an iconic level in the last decade. His drawing is excellent, but it is with his writing that, I think, he conquered fame. His stories are fun to read and yet profound and vibrant, all at the same time. Also, he often touches on themes nobody else covers, at least not in the comics world....

March 15, 2023