Portal:Books

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The Books Portal

Johannes Trithemius'Polygraphiae (1518)

A book is a medium for recording information in the form of writing or images, typically composed of many pages (made of papyrus, parchment, vellum, or paper) bound together and protected by a cover. The technical term for this physical arrangement is codex (plural, codices). In the history of hand-held physical supports for extended written compositions or records, the codex replaces its predecessor, the scroll. A single sheet in a codex is a leaf and each side of a leaf is a page.

As an intellectual object, a book is prototypically a composition of such great length that it takes a considerable investment of time to compose and still considered as an investment of time to read. In a restricted sense, a book is a self-sufficient section or part of a longer composition, a usage that reflects the fact that, in antiquity, long works had to be written on several scrolls and each scroll had to be identified by the book it contained. Each part of Aristotle's Physics is called a book. In an unrestricted sense, a book is the compositional whole of which such sections, whether called books or chapters or parts, are parts.

The intellectual content in a physical book need not be a composition, nor even be called a book. Books can consist only of drawings, engravings or photographs, crossword puzzles or cut-out dolls. In a physical book, the pages can be left blank or can feature an abstract set of lines to support entries, such as in an account book, an appointment book, an autograph book, a notebook, a diary or a sketchbook. Some physical books are made with pages thick and sturdy enough to support other physical objects, like a scrapbook or photograph album. Books may be distributed in electronic form as ebooks and other formats.

Although in ordinary academic parlance a monograph is understood to be a specialist academic work, rather than a reference work on a scholarly subject, in library and information science monograph denotes more broadly any non-serial publication complete in one volume (book) or a finite number of volumes (even a novel like Proust's seven-volume In Search of Lost Time), in contrast to serial publications like a magazine, journal or newspaper. An avid reader or collector of books is a bibliophile or colloquially, "bookworm". A place where books are traded is a bookshop or bookstore. Books are also sold elsewhere and can be borrowed from libraries. Google has estimated that by 2010, approximately 130,000,000 titles had been published. In some wealthier nations, the sale of printed books has decreased because of the increased usage of ebooks. ( Full article...)

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Orwell pictured by the National Union of Journalists in 1943

The bibliography of George Orwell includes journalism, essays, novels and non-fiction books written by the British writer Eric Blair (1903–1950), either under his own name or, more usually, under his pen name George Orwell. Orwell was a prolific writer on topics related to contemporary English society and literary criticism, who has been declared "perhaps the 20th century's best chronicler of English culture." His non-fiction cultural and political criticism constitutes the majority of his work, but Orwell also wrote in several genres of fictional literature.

Orwell is best remembered for his political commentary as a left-wing anti-totalitarian. As he explained in the essay " Why I Write" (1946), "Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it." To that end, Orwell used his fiction as well as his journalism to defend his political convictions. He first achieved widespread acclaim with his fictional novella Animal Farm and cemented his place in history with the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four shortly before his death. While fiction accounts for a small fraction of his total output, these two novels are his best-selling works, having sold almost fifty million copies in sixty-two languages by 2007—more than any other pair of books by a twentieth-century author.

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Upper cover of the Felbrigge Psalter.

Credit: Anne de Felbrigge

The Felbrigge Psalter is an illuminated manuscript Psalter from mid-thirteenth century England that has an embroidered bookbinding which probably dates to the early fourteenth century.

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Equiano by Daniel Orme, frontispiece of his autobiography (1789)

Olaudah Equiano (/əˈlaʊda/) (c. 1745 – 31 March 1797), known for most of his life as Gustavus Vassa ( /ˈvæsə/), was a writer and abolitionist from, according to his memoir, the Eboe (Igbo) region of the Kingdom of Benin (today southern Nigeria). Enslaved as a child in Africa, he was taken to the Caribbean and sold as a slave to a Royal Navy officer. He was sold twice more but purchased his freedom in 1766.

As a freedman in London, Equiano supported the British abolitionist movement. He was part of the Sons of Africa, an abolitionist group composed of Africans living in Britain, and he was active among leaders of the anti-slave trade movement in the 1780s. He published his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (1789), which depicted the horrors of slavery. It went through nine editions in his lifetime and helped gain passage of the British Slave Trade Act 1807, which abolished the slave trade. Equiano married an English woman named Susannah Cullen in 1792 and they had two daughters. He died in 1797 in Westminster. ( Full article...)

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Did you know...

Celsuslibrary-DK.jpg
  • ...that Celsus Library was built in 135 A.D. and could house around 12,000 scrolls?(Pictured)
  • ...that following the advice of minister Li Si, Emperor Qin Shi Huang ordered the burning of all philosophy books and history books from states other than Qin — beginning in 213 BC?
  • ...that according to the Torah in the fourth year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah the prophet Jeremiah dictated the words of the Lord to Baruch, who wrote them in ink upon a roll of a book?

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