The Bibliophile's Adventurers Club

Exemplars of bookish delight

Friday Field Notes 012315


This week, The Guardian  brought together authors and teenagers to share the books that saved their lives. Have you one such book? I can’t go so far as to say a book has ever saved my life–though one has influenced or change my life, now and again. I imagine the first to do so was a Value Tale.  With each value I was introduced to a certain someone. In the Value of Helping, for instance, I met Harriet Tubman. They were people, like you or I, but they lived extraordinary lives. Thanks to them, I cannot be content to simply work for money or prestige–changing the world for the better needs to be thrown in there somewhere.

In other bookish news . . .

Here’s the top 10 books for reluctant and dyslexic readers (according to Tom Palmer, Guardian Books).

James Patterson will sell one self-destructing copy of his next book for $294,038. If you haven’t that kind of cash to spend on a book that explodes (plus a stay in a luxurious hotel and a 5-course meal), he’ll also release 1,000 free versions–they, too, will self-destruct in “spectacular fashion.”

A bookish sort of chat with Daniel Handler (The New York Times ‘By the Book”).

Frank Bascombe talks his new Richard Ford novel.

The Red Sari, a book about Sonia Gandhi, is released in India.

Bibliophile’s can be a bit persnickety. Alberto Manguel, for instance . . .

Martin Luther King, Jr.


Today, in the U.S., we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.

In honor of the occasion, here’s a list of books and authors that inspired Dr. King–most of which can be downloaded for free.  It’s not an exhaustive list, mind you (no books on Gandhi, for example). Nonetheless, the following are works he studied, returned to, learned from, and taught . . .

Civil Disobedience | Henry David Thoreau | “[Civil Disobedience was my] first intellectual contact with the theory of nonviolence and resistance.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Social Contract | Jean Jacques Rousseau

The Nature and Destiny of man | Reinhold Niebuhr  | “Niebuhr helped me to recognize the complexity of man’s social involvement and the glowing reality of collective evil.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Bible | “Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Republic | Plato

Nicomachean Ethics | Aristotle

The City of God | Augustine (“on the law of Heaven and Earth”)

Summa Theologica | Thomas Aquinas

The Prince | Niccolo Machiavelli

Leviathan | Thomas Hobbes (“Of the Natural Condition of Mankind”)

Treatises on Civil Government | John Locke

 Critique of Practical Reason | Immanuel Kant

Principles of Morals and Legislation | Jeremy Bentham

Utilitarianism | John Stuart Mill


The Formative Influences of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,Peace Magazine v17

Dr. King’s ‘Social Philosophy Seminar outline,’ The King Center

Friday Field Notes 011615

In college, a professor suggested I read Tess of the D’Urbervilles as  fodder for a final paper. I never quite forgave her. The novel would go on to become the first and last novel of Thomas Hardy I ever read. According to The Guardian’s “definitive guide to a grandmaster of misery,” it seems I made a wise decision. While Hardy’s work may be enough to throw you into the pit of despair, the infographic (Which Thomas Hardy Novel is the Bleakest) offers nothing but good times.

In other bookish news . . .

Cartoons and John Updike: a love affair.

Vivien French’s inspiration . . . or her ‘animating influence’ as the case may be (The Guardian).

Congratulations to David Harsent, whose Fire Songs won the 2014 TS Eliot prize for poetry.

And goodbye to Robert Stone (The Paris Review).

Ever wonder the age most authors become successful? Well wonder no more, thanks to Blinkbox Books handy-dandy infographic  (and thanks to Guardian Books for the link).

Alan Gilbert, the conductor and music director of The New York Philharmonic, talks books.  (The New York Times, By the Book) P.S. His reason for becoming a ‘mystery novel fanatic?’ Sounds oddly familiar.

John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway used to read the  Bible to each other (The Paris Review). Totally random, but there it is.

Then there’s books bound in human skin . . .

Don’t wait for inspiration


“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
Jack London
 It’s a new year. That means most of us are gearing up with goals and resolutions. With all our best-laid plans, I’d say our best bet is simply to do.

Take Jack London, for instance. Most of us know him as the author of White Fang or The Call of the Wild. But that’s only part of his story.

He left school at eleven to begin collecting an odd assortment of jobs. He was a farm boy, a newspaper boy. He loaded ice onto an ice wagon, set up pins in a bowling alley, and swept the floors of a saloon. He worked in a cannery. He became an oyster pirate. He worked at sea, in a jute mill, and in a laundry. He shoveled coal for an electric railway power plant. He worked as a roustabout; he worked 30-days hard labor in prison (vagrancy, you know).

He read in his spare time.

He went back to school. He worked as a janitor, a sailor. He joined the gold rush, became a prizewinning stockbreeder. He determined to become a great author; he wrote 1,000 words every day; he met his goal. He traveled the world, lectured, and stood up for injustice. He became one of the first to endorse products—men’s suits and grape juice. He became a self-made millionaire.

He experienced all of this in his lifetime: January 12, 1876 to November 22, 1916. That’s forty years. In forty years he accomplished more than many people who live twice as long, because he did more than talk about it—or even plan or map it out. He did it.

Just for fun, we should see what we could accomplish, if we do the same . . .


Looking to know Jack London a bit more?  Try The Wit & Wisdom of Jack London: A Collection of Quotations from His Writing and Letters

Friday Field Notes 010215


First things first–Happy New Year! Looking back on the past year I realize I read very few books. Now that’s just entirely too busy. With that, I’m proclaiming this year to be the year of the story. I’ll let you know how that works out for me.

In the meantime, here are a few bookish bits from the last week of 2014, sure to get 2015 headed in the right direction:

In case you’re in the same boat as I, and missed reading any number of books last year, here’s NPR’s Book Concierge: Guide to 2014’s Great Reads.

Don’t forget to revisit Neil Gaiman’s New Year’s wishes (always a favorite).

In case you’re having a hard time coming up with your own resolutions, here are 31 New Year’s Resolutions for Book nerds.

And lastly, the most eagerly awaiting fiction of 2015 (according to The Guardian).

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