eLibraries and What They Say About Us

Yesterday afternoon I spent a few minutes transferring my personal elibrary onto the monastery’s newly acquired iPhone (the gift of a kind friend and benefactor who knew of the problems we had had with another variety of smartphone). Once upon a time, one could look through people’s bookshelves and learn a lot about their interests. Kindles and iPods and iPads have made the elibrary a much more private experience. Our own elibrary is made up entirely of titles in the public domain/available as free downloads, save for a copy of the Roman Breviary we use when travelling (Universalis); but because everything we have is held in common, there are some strange juxtapositions. The content of the elibrary is ever-changing as titles are added or deleted, but what can you tell from the following current list? What is your own list like? Care to share?

The Holy Bible (of course)
The Koran
The Aeneid (Latin)
Summa Theologica of St Thomas Aquinas
rather a lot of poetry, which is maddening to read  because the text isn’t properly formatted
Confessions of St Augustine (Pusey’s translation)
Newman’s Apologia
Rider Haggard: She
Dante’s Divine Comedy (English)
Stendhal: Le Rouge et le Noir
Bunyan: The Pilgrim’s Progress
Austen: the complete works
Thomas Browne: Religio Medici
Edgar Allan Poe: Tales of the Grotesque
Cicero: Treatises on Friendship
rather a lot of detective fiction . . .
Richard Forde: Handbook for Travellers in Spain
Borrow: The Bible in Spain
Chesterton: The Man who was Thursday


15 thoughts on “eLibraries and What They Say About Us”

  1. My Kindle collection has remarkable similarities to your list here. I am also a great fan of detective fiction, especially from authors such as Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, Arthur Conan Doyle.
    I have collections of sermons from Wesley and Spurgeon and also much Dominican literature and lots of Aquinas – a favourite is his commentary on the gospel of John. I also have St Catherine’s Dialogues.
    I have not found Stendhal yet, but have Zolam Balzac and Dickens.
    Never cease to be amazed at the technology that allows me to carry a library in my handbag!

  2. And I am happy with my hard copies as I learn from and grudgingly acknowledge the inevitability of the on-line library. I feel a terrible sadness at the thought of losing the materiality of books and text though.

    • I don’t think anyone, least of all me, is suggesting that we get rid of books (I am, after all, a book designer and was once a monastic printer of the same); but the elibrary has opened up wonderful possibilities, just as the printing press did.

  3. I don’t read online, but I do download talking books. They are a wonderful boon when I’m ill and real reading is beyond me. My list though is very lightweight and I wonder when on earth you have time to read your e-list! Recent highlights have been the BBC Radio 4 adaptation of the Barchester Chronicles, unabridged readings of Adam Bede and Silas Marner, Alan Bennet plays and stories.
    I have only downloaded one spiritual classic and that is Brother Lawrence. Listening to this when I am unable to do anything reminds me that whatever my situation, God is always present.
    Good to see the Norfolk writers – Borrow, Browne and Haggard featuring on your list.

    • I’m a Hispanist of sorts: before I became a nun I lived in Spain for a while, doing historical research — mainly in Madrid and Galicia. I have walked part of the Camino but never the whole.

  4. I love real books but am also a very new convert to the delights of owning a kindle and therefore being able to carry a bookshelf with me wherever I go.

  5. Ah! The Bible in Spain – a cracking read for those of you who haven’t met it. I also have a copy (1880s, no earlier, alas) of Richard Ford’s handbook.

  6. Oh, I move between print and Kindle. At present Kindle is for —
    > the less important, throw away, books,
    > or to have an electronic and portable version of something I want to have with me everywhere.

    So, it’s either for light weight disposables, or permanent treasures.

    But for quality books that are new to me I’ve discovered that paper is best.

    > ‘Guns Germs and Steel’ and ‘Collapse’ by Jared Diamond
    > Biographies of Nelson Mandela, Weary Dunlop, John Monash
    > History of the World in 100 Objects (British Museum)
    > ‘Secret Life of Lobsters’ … (seriously a MUST READ)

    And for fiction…
    > Anything by Marilyn Robinson … aaaah..

    Enjoying your newly discovered blog,

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