public sign library book Milan 817.JPG

On the train south from Paris this evening, I have the impression that more people than usual are reading books. An Armistead Maupin, a book on Francis I. For my part I’m sorting out photos from the summer. I’ve come across these remarks from two great travellers:

‘Where a man’s Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica is, there shall his heart be also’; and, of course, Lemprière, Fowler, Brewer, Liddell and Scott, Dr Smith, Harrap and Larousse and a battery of atlases, bibles, concordances, Loeb classics, Pléiade editions, Oxford Companions and Cambridge histories; anthologies and books on painting, sculpture, architecture, birds, beasts, fishes trees and stars; for if one is settling in the wilds, a dozen reference shelves is the minimum; and they must be near the dinner table where arguments spring up which have to be settled then or never. This being so, two roles for the chief room in a still unbuilt house were clear from the start. (Patrick Leigh Fermor, 1986)


I actually buy my books in paperback, so that I can leave them without remorse on the platform, for someone else to find. I don’t collect anything. (Olga Tokarczuk, Flights, 2007)


book tattoo Milan 817.JPG

I took the photos on a hot August Sunday in Milan, heading home by train.

Published by

Paul Hodson

Head of Unit "EnergyEfficiency" at European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy

2 thoughts on “Books”

  1. Having recently read Neil Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death”, in which he laments the continuous and irreversible decline in literacy in American society since the middle of last century, I’ve been wondering about the question of what’s happening to book reading? A quick Google search throws up a few facts:

    In economies such as US, UK and China, several 100,000s of books are being published every year. Globally, well over a million books per year are published and 20 million books are in print (including eBooks). The average American spends 300 $ per year on books (into a US book market of around 100 billion). UK is actually the country that publishes the most books per capita, way above any other country.

    People are buying but are they reading? Like with physical exercise, many of us realise we should probably read a little more, but then there is always tomorrow.


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