Sitting here in gray, sleety Wisconsin waiting for another child to arrive at the house. She’s on the road from Minneapolis, just ahead, I hope, of this monster storm the weather people have been crowing about for days. As I wait, I’ve been rereading snatches from Alberto Manguel’s wonderful History of Reading. Thought I’d offer up some little gems from his timeline of reading:
c. 4000 BC: With the inscription of signs of goats and sheep on a clay tablet the first reader comes into being.
c. 2300 BC: The first recorded author, the high priestess Princess Enheduanna, addresses for the first time a “dear reader” in her songs.
c. 420 BC: Socrates argues against reading. For him, books are useless tools, since they cannot explain what they say but only repeat the same words over and over again.
c. 1000: To avoid parting with his collection of 117, 000 books while traveling, the avid reader and Grand Vizier of Persia, Abdul Kassem Ismael, has them carried by a caravan of four hundred camels trained to walk in alphabetical order.
The History of Reading is a wonderful book. Should be required for writers.