Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have loved A.A. Milne’s idea of Sustaining Books, had he encountered it. I thought that recently as I re-read Doyle’s book about books, “Through the Magic Door” (1908).
Milne had Winnie-the-Pooh ask for “a Sustaining Book, such as would help and comfort a Wedged Bear in Great Tightness.”
Doyle begins his book with the following:
“I care not how humble your bookshelf may be, nor how lowly the room which it adorns. Close the door of that room behind you, shut off with it all the cares of the outer world, plunge back into the soothing company of the great dead, and then you are through the magic portal whither worry and vexation can follow you no more.”
So the door is the door into his book collection, and the book consists of essays about books and writers he has loved. In a series of posts, I will present and comment on some of the books he mentions and the vivid way he mentions them. I’ve found some great “new” reading that way.
I encourage you to follow Doyle’s advice from the last page of the book (p. 96 in my edition):
“If I have put you on the track of anything which you did not know before, then verify it and pass it on.”
I’ll share some of his “reviews” in upcoming posts — not necessarily because I agree. As Sir Arthur put it:
“My judgments may differ very far from yours, and my likings may be your abhorrence; but the mere thinking and talking of books is in itself good, be the upshot what it may.”
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