Review – The Secret Life of Books

Posted June 18, 2021 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of The Secret Life of BooksThe Secret Life of Books, Tom Mole

This book is a bit more substantial than Shelf Respect, which I bought in the same flurry of looking for non-fiction about books and reading. Tom Mole has a look at the book as an object, or more accurately, the codex as an object, and he goes into a bit more depth about reading, collecting books, relating to books, and how that’s changed and will change over time.

Funnily enough, just as I was reading the parts about how the book is an object we don’t even think about until it malfunctions, I noticed that the pages in my copy were cut badly. It wasn’t unreadable, by any means, but I tend to riffle the pages ahead of me and fidget with them as I read, and those cut pages threw me off immensely.

I found it an interesting but fairly light read at the time, and now I’m finding that very little has stuck with me — any information that I picked up has stuck more by just joining my general knowledge than by getting labelled as belonging to this book in my brain. It’s possible that says more about me than the book, but I read other books at around the same time — like Rebecca Wragg Sykes’ book on Neanderthals — where I could reel off a lecture on the information contained, so I don’t think Mole’s book was precisely revelatory. Just… pleasant.

Rating: 3/5

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