The Book on the Bookshelf is a book about books… and shelving. If that doesn’t catch your attention, then there’s no hope. I’ve lost you already.
It’s a study of part of our relationship with books, the ways we created, studied, shared, and stored them. Henry Petroski touches on developments in bookbinding, the evolution of outward-facing spines, and the history chained books, among other things.
I love the research that Petroski did. In many of the chapters scrutinizes old photographs, architecture, and especially the illustrations that can be found in old books—Renaissance scholars in their studies, Medieval monks in their libraries, etc.. How big are the books? How are they bound? How are they physically organized? How do they lay? A book is both a container of information and itself a piece of historical evidence. Pretty cool.