Did You Study Bacon?

On The Bookshelf #2

At the end of October when I linked up with F.M.F. (Five Minute Friday’s) the surprise word was “bacon.” Everyone seemed to be discussing meat. Given my propensity to think unconventionally I originally thought of Francis Bacon (1561-1626). His essays are some of his most popular works. A nice copy graces my bookshelf.

My favorite of the essays is “Of Studies.” It is in describing the virtue and value of studies that Bacon applies his wit to great effect.

Biography.com

Biography.com

Francis Bacon encourages us to, “Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.”

“Some books are to be tasted, others swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested…”

I find that I swallow novels. I chew and digest history and I taste many books before deciding if they will suit me. In fact, essays like Bacon’s are very suitable books to taste.

Forgive the pun, friends, I could not resist.

Do you choose books based upon their popularity, friends’ opinions, theme, genre or availability? I find different criteria suit different purposes. I find a work of history needs more time to chew and digest, while a volume of verse may be consumed in a brief evening.

I am more particular in selecting a work of historical fiction than I am in choosing contemporary fiction. I am not well able to tolerate a poor understanding of the history in a work of historical fiction. A well researched work by an author with a good grasp of the era can be most compelling, while an engaging story and style will make an effective contemporary work alone.

This month I am devoting time to writing my own piece of historical fiction. I am finding that historical fiction can be more challenging to write than historical fact. The need to keep the drama and pace falls squarely upon the shoulders of the novelist, while the scholar can rely upon the fact that history tends to provide its’ own drama.

The Bookshelf #1

This is the first post of the series On The Bookshelf. 

I thought I would start with

a book…

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He ate and drank the precious words,                                                                   His spirit grew robust;                                                                                                   He knew no more that he was poor,                                                                         Nor that his frame was dust.                                                                                         He danced along the dingy days,                                                                                  And this bequest of wings                                                                                           Was but a book. What liberty                                                                                        A loosened spirit brings!

-Emily Dickinson

 

I decided that we would begin the thoughts of what is on my bookshelves with a bit of pocket-poetry. In the days before smart phones made it easy to carry volumes of poetry in your purse or back pocket I bought these little volumes from the Easton Press. I love the compact size and there is nowhere that you cannot use a good poem. They have travelled through many a mundane day with me.

The novel that I am writing has me traveling back in time and across the sea. It is nice to come back and sink into something short, satisfying and soulful like a classic poem. Books are a chance to fly to far-flung kingdoms and experience a life that we would never know if not for the exquisite agony of being trapped in a book.

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I will be here again on Friday for another installment of On the Bookshelf and I will tidy the shelves themselves so that I do not have to photograph the books on the floor. I will also drop a few more hints about the book that is taking form as my imaginations tries to migrate into my computer.

Keep writing and reading!