The Bibliophile's Adventurers Club

Exemplars of bookish delight

Tag: books (page 1 of 6)

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

A study in scarlet

If ever you get the chance to add this little publication to your library, you simply must do so . . .


For you see, Beeton’s Christmas-Annual of 1887 first introduced us to Sherlock Holmes.

Arthur Conan Doyle was twenty-seven when he wrote the tale (perhaps you recall this video). It would receive little more than rejection at first. Even after publication, it wasn’t the most popular. Perhaps readers of the day felt it untoward to read of murder and mayhem around the holidays; perhaps that’s why only a handful of complete copies of the Christmas Annual exist today.

Nonetheless, A Study in Scarlet went on to be published as a book in July of 1888 (Doyle’s father illustrated that version); a second edition made an appearance the following year, and an American version a year after that (1890). Of course, that’s but a start of a myriad of editions, translations, and adaptations–not to mention the countless other stories featuring Holmes and Watson.

If you’d care to read the story that started it all, you’ll find A Study in Scarlet on Project Gutenberg.

“There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.”  

— A Study in Scarlet



The Sandman series


Never let it be said that reading can’t catch you a man.  Now, whether or not you want to catch that man (quick, throw him back!) is another story altogether.

Mr. Neil Gaiman, despite being one of my all-time favourite authors, is going to be the death of me, as a large number of his books have been responsible for “rando” men in my life.  This particular instance was brought on by his classic graphic novel series The Sandman.

I recently shared with an acquaintance, a friend of a friend really, that I owned the entire Sandman series, all ten books.  When he expressed his desire to read them, I enthusiastically offered them up–my poor sacrificial lambs.  What can I say? I get excited whenever anyone wants to read, particularly when someone wants to read Gaiman.  When the acquaintance asked to borrow the books a few days later, I imagined a quick swap over a beer.  In reality, the speedy exchange into a gracious, though very unwelcome, sneak date over dinner (his).

But the books . . .

I feel as though they should inscribe the front of each of Gaiman’s book with the following: Aspiring authors, take heed.  Those who wonder how worlds are woven and created, watch the master at work.

Morpheus / Dream / the eponymous Sandman takes center stage in this series, accompanied by his Endless immortal siblings, as they manipulate and tool with humankind in the dream world.  Dreams permeate the waking world more often than we give them credit.  What would happen if you hid things, such as secrets, objects, treasures, in your dreams?  What if, as you dreamt, you could shape the waking world?  What if you could control everyone’s dreams? Within the world of Dreaming, Gaiman creates an entire kingdom of dreams for Morpheus to rule over and for dreamers to love, live, and kill.  There is, as often in dreams, evil and there is goodness, all mixed together.  And when we think about how broad, wide, and all encompassing this kingdom is, we get a little peek into Gaiman’s own head.

So it’s not necessarily a coincidence that Morpheus / Lord Dream looks a bit like @NeilHimself: a dark, lanky, brooding character with masses of unruly hair. Women fainting in his footsteps. Classic Gaiman.

Unfortunately, my fellow comic book borrower was neither dark, lanky, nor brooding and I wasn’t fainting at any point of the evening.  At the end of the book exchange, without thinking, I foolishly told my “date” to enjoy and maybe we could discuss the books when he was finished–to which he responded, “Yes, and we can go out for drinks again!”

Commence thumping forehead against wall.

Second chances

Northanger Abbey was the first Jane Austen novel I ever read. Or more to the point, that old, mass market paperback with a yellowed cover and yellowed pages to match was the first Jane Austen novel I ever picked up.

I made it all of ten pages, before abandoning hope.

That, I figured, was that. No more Jane Austen for me. But time wore on, and friends wore me down. Finally, I agreed to read Pride and Prejudice; it was love at first page.  I went on to read all of Austen’s novels—all except Northanger Abbey.

So imagine my dismay when my book club announced the book of July was none other than Northanger Abbey . . .

Reluctantly, I picked up a new copy; specifically, a Penguin clothbound classic so, if nothing else, I’d have a lovely cover on which to gaze.

Then I started reading.

You know, strangest thing, it wasn’t at all as I remembered it (i.e. dull).  As a matter of fact, it was nothing of the sort.

I thought it charming and witty; and found it especially amusing when she offers the following aside:

‘Yes, novels; for I will not adopt that ungenerous and impolitic custom, so common with novel-writers, of degrading, by their contemptuous censure, the very performances to the number of which they are themselves adding; joining with their greatest enemies in bestowing the harshest epithets on such works, and scarcely ever permitting them to be read by their own heroine, who, if you accidentally takes up a novel, is sure to turn over its insipid pages with disgust. Alas! If the heroine of one novel be not patronized by the heroine of another, from whom can she expect protection and regard? I cannot approve of it. Let us leave it to the reviewers to abuse such effusions of fancy at their leisure, and over every new novel to talk in threadbare strains of the trash with which the press now groans. Let us not desert one another—we are an injured body.’

And let’s not forget the fact that it’s basically a parody of gothic novels—something of which I can wholeheartedly get on board.

Needless to say, if you haven’t already done so, I recommend you read Northanger Abbey. The story seems especially fitting for a chilly autumnal evening, when the sky is grey, and you’re in need of good, old fashioned entertainment.

Oh, and if you’ve got a book long abandoned, you might want to give it another try. After all, books, as in life, just might surprise you, if only given a second chance . . .

The first copyright in the U.S.


June 9, 1790, the first book in the United States is copyrighted. The title: The Philadelphia spelling book : arranged upon a plan entirely new, adapted to the capacities of children, and designed as an immediate improvement in spelling and reading the English language; the whole being recommended by several eminent teachers, as the most useful performance to expedite the instruction of youth / by John Barry, master of the Free School of the Protestant Episcopal Church.

Phew! That’s a mouthful.

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