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Sunday, June 24, 2012

The influence of books


Books, stories, poems, myths, plays, lectures, TV, and the other forms of entertainment and edification influence our careers, our decisions, and even our perspectives on life. Some amuse us; others teach us about life, morals, and ethics; and still others help us understand how to do our jobs well. Neil Postman writes in “Amusing Ourselves to Death” about the influence of television and its dominance over reading. Written in 1985, he did not and could not include the influence the internet and digital technology has had upon our lives. Nevertheless, books in their many formats and manifestations continue to influence individuals and are essential for the survival of libraries

At the 12th annual National Book Festival http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/ on Thursday June 21st, the Librarian of Congress James Billington just announced a new celebration of the book entitled “Books That Shaped America”
The Library of Congress, the world’s largest repository of knowledge and information, began a multiyear “Celebration of the Book” with an exhibition on “Books That Shaped America.” The initial books in the exhibition are displayed below.
“This list is a starting point,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “It is not a register of the ‘best’ American books – although many of them fit that description. Rather, the list is intended to spark a national conversation on books written by Americans that have influenced our lives, whether they appear on this initial list or not.” http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/books-that-shaped-america/

A Washington Post editorial discusses the various books and even asks why academic ‘classics’ don’t make the list http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/library-of-congress-issues-list-of-books-that-shaped-america/2012/06/21/gJQACDMxtV_story.html.  In addition, the Washington Post created a slide show of the title pages from 23 of the books in the Library of Congress exhibition displaying unusual title pages, frontispieces, and binding http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/books-that-shaped-america/2012/06/21/gJQA4KdxtV_gallery.html

Watch the short video, read the list of books, and add your own influential books to their list.
What’s the book that shaped your life?

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