Yesterday was a lovely day, the kind of day that does a lot to pull one out of the winter blues, even if it means spending a little more time than is ideal in temperatures in the teens. Hobgoblin and I spent the day in New Haven with some friends, visiting the Beinecke library and then browsing through bookshops. It was the first time I’d visited the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and it turned out to be a lovely place to go — it’s a modern building with marble panels that let the light shine through so it feels light even though there aren’t many windows. There are special exhibits open to the public that wrap around the outer edge of the building with the middle part taken up by stacks and stacks of very old books. This middle section is behind glass, so you get a view of some of the shelves.
The main exhibit yesterday was about alchemy, so we saw old textbooks on the subject, some of them complete with charts and models and pictures of very early chemistry labs. I particularly liked seeing books where the reader had taken notes in the margins (writing in books is a good thing! People in the future will be interested in your marginal notations, maybe!). My favorite comment was something like this: “There is neither worth nor merit to be found in this chapter.” Ouch. There is also a Gutenburg Bible on display, which was marvelous to look at.
After staring at old books for a while, we went off to find old-but-not-quite-so-old books at the Book Trader Cafe, and after a couple hours there (it’s not a huge store, but the selection is great), we spent another hour or so at Atticus Bookstore. I had a grand time looking through the books and an even better time talking about them, but I was remarkably restrained and bought only two books. When I came across Janet Malcolm’s Reading Chekhov: A Critical Journey I knew I would be bringing it home, given my developing Janet Malcolm obsession and Zhiv’s intriguing post on the subject. I also couldn’t say no to the eighteenth-century novel Nature and Art by Elizabeth Inchbald. I’ve read her novel A Simple Story and found it a very interesting treatment of mother/daughter relationships and problems with women’s education, and I’m looking forward to reading another of hers.
It was so cold yesterday, I really couldn’t help but have a couple lattes to help keep me warm, and those two large chocolate chip cookies I ate went so well with my coffee I couldn’t resist. And what’s wrong with a little indulgence now and then, right?