Monday, December 31, 2007

This Week in Reading December 30 - January 5

We should be very excited about getting to the end of the year, and we are, but this blog and this feature started in the last week of January and it was several weeks after that before we learned how best to put it together every week. So we'll wait a few more more weeks to celebrate our first full year. We'll let you know.

In the interim, that's no reason for you not to have a very Happy New Year this week reading from the very famous authors born on either side of the yearly cusp. Looking backward there's Rudyard Kipling, J. D. Salinger, one of the brothers Grimm, and even the famous Roman orator Cicero, but we can look forward and elsewhere this week and find no less than Isaac Asimov and J.R. R. Tolkein.

Here ae two favorites you might not know too much about. Italy's Umberto Eco whose The Name of the Rose was a challenging but very rewarding novel, better than the movie, holds special interest for library lovers. And for the older readers among us the biting humor of Canada's Stephen Leacock from nearly a century ago was absolutely delightful. Try him. He's worth it.

This Week's Question: About which author born this week was the following said?: "... between the years 1910 and 1925, [author] was the single most widely read English speaking author throughout the world."

Answer to Last Week's Question: The 15th Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica in 1974 changed from a simple alphabetical listing of entries in many volumes to a three-part division called the Propaedia, the Micropaedia, and the Macropaedia. Its creator, the philosopher and great books popularizer Mortimer J. Adler explained it thusly, "The whole of the Prop├Ždia’s synoptic outline of knowledge deserves to be read carefully. It represents a twentieth-century scheme for the organization of knowledge that is more comprehensive than any other and that also accommodates the intellectual heterodoxy of our time." The Micropaedia was a 12 volume summary of the ideas in the 17 volume Macropaedia. They were merged back into one set in 1985 but the 15th edition is still the current one. While editions change every quarter century or so, in this twenty-first century age of digital access we may expect other changes, but much easier access. There are still purists who say the 1911 edition of this venerable encyclopedia was the most literary, despite its cultural incorrectness, but hard as it is to use, the 15th is much more comprehensive. Librarians and patrons have complained about Adler's arrangement for years.

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