Saturday, May 03, 2008

The People of the Book

I finally finished Geraldine Brook's wonderful book-- The People of the Book. Told from the point of view of a young Australian rare books expert, it tells the story of the Sarajevo Haggadah-- the first illumanated Jewish manuscript from the 15th century. This book spoke to me on many levels. As a person who holds Passover as the highlight of the Jewish year, and someone who loves used books not only because they are books and cheaper than new, but because the volumes themselves hold their own history, I found this book to be delightful. The parts about repairing antiquarian volumes, and the history of the haggadah itself were breath taking and clearly the subject of love for the author. The parts about Hanna, the woman doing the restoration, were a little lame and contrived. She was not a character as much as a conduit. But that was fine because the story of the book itself was really the main story and clearly the passion of the author.

I think this book would be wonderful to read back to back with Sheridan Hay's The Secret of Lost Things about a young kiwi bibliophile working in The Strand Bookstore in NYC and following the mystery of a missing Melville manuscript.

You can learn more about the author Geraldine Brooks and the Sarajevo Haggadah by listening to the podcast.

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