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Sara Nelson and AJ Jacobs answer the challenge of a well-read life

Well, I am an official survivor of the HP6 phenomena. For eight and a half hours I remained at my post greeting the Potter fans as they checked in Friday amidst the ever-growing bedlam. We had a lot of people and plenty of books were sold in the two hours after midnight. Saturday, sales remained high as more folks came in to claim their reserved copies or bemused and desperate Potter scavengers wandered through our doors in search of their personal Potter elixir. Although Mark, from Clear Lake Reflections, piped up that he’s had absolutely no interest in the Potter books, it’s clear he’s aware of their existence. Being a Potter fan, myself, I’d just say that from a writer’s vantage I’ve found it interesting to see what Rowling has done from a world-building and story perspective.

Despite my being oh-so-very tired, C-SPAN’s BOOK TV did manage to keep me entertained yesterday, particularly during the book discussion between Sara Nelson (So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading) and AJ Jacobs (The Know-It-All:One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World). In their books, Nelson chronicled her year-long journey of reading, while Jacobs plunged into the Britannica Encyclopedia to resurface as a major know-it-all. Their love of books and their knowledge kept the audience–and me–entertained.

Jacobs’s talk about his journey through the encyclopedic pages brought back memories of my philosophy instructor. He would regale us with tales of a class he took that was all about encyclopedias and their history, design, content, and brands. The bit that lodged in my brain had to do with the difference in encyclopedias after the World Wars and how their content had evolved from an art-literary-historical perspective to the more science and technologically driven content we find today. Although the Britannica 9th edition was one of his favorites due to its emphasis on science, he did say that most hail the 11th edition as the finest produced. At one time it was difficult to even find those editions as they were so highly prized, but now the Britannica 11th edition is easily found on the web.

So if the idea of reading book after book in Nelson’s manner doesn’t appeal to you, perhaps clicking over to the Britannica 11th edition and meandering through the pages might fulfill your reading entertainment for the rest of the summer. For a variety of encyclopedias, click here and here. Click here for NPR’s interview with AJ Jacobs.


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  • http://www.writers-edge.info Georganna Hancock

    Re: Potter. I hope I masked my surprise the other day when one of my mature students announced she was off to the bookstore after class to pick up her reserved copy. Mmm … aren’t they children’s books? I’m far more interested in the initial marketing of Rowlings’ productions that tipped the line toward blockbusterhood. Do you have a clue?

  • http://www.writers-edge.info Georganna Hancock

    Re: Potter. I hope I masked my surprise the other day when one of my mature students announced she was off to the bookstore after class to pick up her reserved copy. Mmm … aren’t they children’s books? I’m far more interested in the initial marketing of Rowlings’ productions that tipped the line toward blockbusterhood. Do you have a clue?

  • http://eblogger.blogsome.com/2005/07/19/jacobs-on-book-tv/ EBlogger

    A. J. Jacobs on C-SPAN’s Book TV

    Yesterday afternoon Vikk Simmons blogs about Sara Nelson and A. J. Jacobs on C-SPAN’s BOOK TV. Vikk notes that Jacobs’s has a soft spot for the classic 11th edition of Encyclopædia Britannica. There are a number of places to get the 11th …

  • http://eblogger.blogsome.com/2005/07/19/jacobs-on-book-tv/ EBlogger

    A. J. Jacobs on C-SPAN’s Book TV

    Yesterday afternoon Vikk Simmons blogs about Sara Nelson and A. J. Jacobs on C-SPAN’s BOOK TV. Vikk notes that Jacobs’s has a soft spot for the classic 11th edition of Encyclopædia Britannica. There are a number of places to get the 11th …

  • http://clear-lake-reflections.com Mark

    Good post Vikk. Lots of links. I actually blogged about a new book I feel has literary merit: “Olympos” by Dan Simmons. More restricted genre, however.

  • http://clear-lake-reflections.com Mark

    Good post Vikk. Lots of links. I actually blogged about a new book I feel has literary merit: “Olympos” by Dan Simmons. More restricted genre, however.

  • http://clear-lake-reflections.com Mark

    Vikk. When I visit your page I get pop-ups. But not every time. Can you control that?

  • http://clear-lake-reflections.com Mark

    Vikk. When I visit your page I get pop-ups. But not every time. Can you control that?