Monday, July 19, 2010

Old Books

A while back the Boy and I took a little jaunt down to the University of Texas Medical Branch Library. Located in Galveston it is a short hour drive from our house. I have a friend there that gave us a tour of the library. It was great fun and I think it impressed the Boy.

While looking through the books I gave an impromptu book construction lecture. I talked about how books started out as clay tablets, progressed to scrolls, then to the codex that we use today. I also explained how books are folded, foliated, or paginated (depending on the age of the book), how the folios are sewn together and a bunch of other book construction and history. I'm pretty sure it was way more information than anyone needs to know about how books were made. Yes, boring people half to death is my specialty.

We were lucky enough to see a first edition Darwin's Origin of Species. It was thrilling to see the drawings and diagrams. Nothing like holding a little history in your hands.

Another important book in the medical sciences was Gray's Anatomy. It was the first of its kind. Called the doctor's bible, Gray's Anatomy was first printed in 1858. This anatomy has been continuously published for the last 150+ years.

The illustrations are wonderful. Can you imagine how controversial it must have been at the time. It actually showed and described male and female reproductive organs. Think of the outrage that the Victorian's felt at seeing penises and vagina's drawn out in all their glory?

And while the book may have made some uncomfortable it was without a doubt the most influential and popular book of it's time. Thousands of doctors have been trained using this book. Gave me the shivers to turn the pages.

And after all that lofty bookishness I digressed to the library's huge psychology section. Like the teenager I can be I giggled over some of the titles of these books.

Malleus Maleficarum. A book designed to convince people that there were witches, they are mostly women, and how to spot them. The author was denounced by the Spanish Inquisition in 1490. It didn't seem to help the poor women that were deemed to be witches though.

What I was actually taking a photo of was the cute little green book right next to it. I got a laugh out of it.

It seems that it takes 3 volumes to tell the history of prostitution. I thought it was a pretty straightforward transaction to me but I guess not. Makes me wonder about how the author did his research.

I know this is Monday and I usually post a recipe but this is an odd week. The only thing I made that was the least interesting was a zucchini and sun-dried tomato frittata. I neglected to get pictures because I make this sort of thing all the time and it didn't occur to me that others may like to know how I made it. I, also, steamed some clams for the boys. They liked them but what they liked even better was the clam chowder with garlic croutons that I made out of the leftovers.

You all have a great day. I'll be seeing ya.



  1. You actually were able to touch all those old book treasures? That's really cool!

  2. That is uber-cool, Michele. I would love to be able to hold those old books. And I really enjoy having some good clam chowder. Cheers!!

  3. I literally laughed out loud at the three volumes on the history of prostitution. I guess it really IS the world's oldest profession!

    I'm sad to miss out on the frittata recipe...

  4. I like to scan titles of books. Wonder where they ever come up with some of them.

    I thought your Don King cake was so cute!!

  5. And I thought Gray's Anatomy was running out of story lines. Hell, there's hundreds of years of stories to tell!

  6. These are so cool. What a great way to spend a day. The pictures made me want to smell the books. You know what I mean? Is that weird? Okay, maybe not the prostitution book, but...

  7. Did you have to wear soft white gloves to touch the books? What a wonderful see and smell and touch old books.


  8. you are literally the only person I know that can make books that I've never read, nor ever would read, interesting.

  9. How neat to get to see all those interesting books. The photo on the prostitution books made me chuckle.