The Book on the Bookshelf
By Henry Petroski
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375706394, 306pp.)
Publication Date: September 12, 2000
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From the author of the highly praised The Pencil and The Evolution of Useful Things comes another captivating history of the seemingly mundane: the book and its storage.
Most of us take for granted that our books are vertical on our shelves with the spines facing out, but Henry Petroski, inveterately curious engineer, didn't. As a result, readers are guided along the astonishing evolution from papyrus scrolls boxed at Alexandria to upright books shelved at the Library of Congress. Unimpeachably researched, enviably written, and charmed with anecdotes from Seneca to Samuel Pepys to a nineteenth-century bibliophile who had to climb over his books to get into bed, The Book on the Bookshelf is indispensable for anyone who loves books.
Henry Petroski is the Alexander S.Vesic Professor of Engineering and Professor of History at Duke University, where he also serves as chairman of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.
"For anyone interested in the craft of reading, [this book] is a compulsive necessity." --The New York Times Book Review
"A fascinating history of two related common objects, impeccably documented and beautifully illustrated." --Civilization
"After reading this book, you will not look at a book or a bookshelf in the same way." --Seattle Times
"If 'God is in the details,' then those seeking God should read Petroski's books." --Library Journal