Hunting for medieval treasure…

Tomorrow I will be leaving to the abbey Rolduc in the south of the Netherlands, along with fourteen classmates and four faculty members from the department of Book and Digital Media Studies at Leiden University. And it should prove to be extremely interesting!

While there we will be hunting in the monastic library for fragments of medieval manuscripts, hidden (or not so hidden) away in the covers of 15th to 17th century books. These covers hide wondeful treasures: pieces of old text transferred in the handwritings of medieval scribes. And the fragments convey their own, often unwritten, messages that can tell us a lot about books in the Middle Ages as well as culture of that time.

Want to read more?

Treasure Hunting in a Monastic Library

“Book bindings from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century hold hidden treasures. Book binders from this period cut up handwritten books from the Middle Ages, manuscripts, because these had become old fashioned after the invention of printing. The dismembered manuscripts were used as binding material.”

Hidden Treasure, or How Destruction Creates Beautiful Things

“It is not easy to cut up parchment quires, but judging from the evidence staring at us through the cracks in the leather today, book binders excelled at it. […] Stepping out of their leather time capsules after centuries of darkness, fragments are “blips” on the map of Europe, expressing “I existed, I was used by a reader in tenth-century Italy! (But look at me now…)””

For those interested, I also highly recommend following our Twitter hashtag #rolduc2012. We will be actively tweeting during the project!

Japan’s triple disaster…

It’s been a year since the triple disaster in Japan. I still remember when it happened: I wasn’t in Japan at the time (and unfortunately haven’t been there since), but I was in class and after that at work. At work (I work at an East Asian Library) the TV was on the Japanese news and we kept the live stream on constantly. We received numbers of phonecalls and press came in looking for people with knowledge of these type of disasters. At the same time, friends in Japan who couldn’t contact eachother but could use e-mail tried to keep in touch with eachother through me and other friends abroad, and on top of that I had to make sure my host family in Akita-ken was fine.

None of my friends were harmed, thankfully, but watching the disaster unfold was terrible. A disaster of unimaginable scale. Now, a year later, Japan is still working hard to recover but has already achieved a lot. The lives lost cannot be recovered however and that’s incredibly upsetting…

I want to wish Japan good luck in the rest of their recovery ♥

Here are some books that were written about the earthquake, to raise money for the reconstruction of Japan:

Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction: An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories

“Tomo (meaning “friend” in Japanese) is an anthology of young adult short fiction in prose, verse and graphic art set in or related to Japan. This collection for readers age 12 and up features thirty-six stories—including ten in translation and two graphic narratives—contributed by authors and artists from around the world, all of whom share a connection to Japan. English-language readers will be able to connect with Japan through a wide variety of unique stories, including tales of friendship, mystery, fantasy, science fiction and history.”

A website has also been created for this project here. Proceeds from the sales of Tomo will go to organizations that assist teens in the quake and tsunami hit areas.

March Was Made of Yarn: Writers respond to Japan’s Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Meltdown

“The writers in this collection seek to explore the impact of this catastrophe through a variety of different means. The pieces – fiction and non-fiction, poetry and manga – reconceive the events of that day, imagine a future and a past, interpret dreams, impel purpose, pray for hope. Specific in reference, universal in scope, these singular, heartfelt contributions – by Yoko Ogawa, Ryu Murakami, Yoko Tawada, Kazumi Saeki and David Peace, among others – comprise an artistic record of a disaster which raises questions for all of us who live in the modern world.

Royalties from the sale of this book will go to charities working towards the reconstruction of north-eastern Japan.”

2: 46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake

“In just four weeks, the 2:46 Quakebook project has turned an idea first voiced in a single tweet, into a rich collection of essays, artwork and photographs submitted by indivdiuals around the world, including people who endured the disaster and journalists who covered it.

2:46 — Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake contains a piece by Yoko Ono, and work created specifically for the book by authors William Gibson, Barry Eisler and Jake Adelstein.”

Website for this project here. 100% of donations for 2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake goes directly to the Japanese Red Cross.

Bookish links

Often I run across interesting blog posts or news items on the internet, so I figured I could share them once in a while.

Little Free Libraries are taking root on lawns

“Todd Bol wanted to honor his mother, a former teacher and book lover who died a decade ago. So two years ago, Bol built a miniature model of a library, filled it with books for anyone to take, and placed it outside his home in Hudson, Wis.”

The 20 Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World

“With Amazon slowly taking over the publishing world and bookstores closing left and right, things can sometimes seem a little grim for the brick and mortar booksellers of the world. After all, why would anyone leave the comfort of their couch to buy a book when with just a click of a button, they could have it delivered to their door?”

Medieval garbage in Leiden University Library (video)

“Erik Kwakkel recently discovered a manuscript made entirely from ‘offcuts’ – leftovers from parchment production that were normally thrown out – in the University Library Leiden. It is the first time that such book has been identified in Dutch collections.” (source)

Turning writers into motherfucking rock stars (somewhat older but forever hilarious)

“And see, while sometimes I lament that this writing career gets — in the immortal words of Rodney Dangerfield — no respect, maybe what we need is to go so far down respect’s throat we come out the other side, surfing an effluent tide of flaming typewriters, LSD habits, and public badassery. We need literary rock star heroes to swoop in and save publishing.”

Books in 2011

Better late than never, right?

I didn’t read as much as I wanted, unfortunately. Fortunately however it seems like I was lucky and picked a lot of books that I ended up loving! My absolute favourites were American Gods, The Count of Monte Cristo and The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Details of my 2011 challenge can be found here. And my reading challenge for 2012:

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Carola has read 7 books toward her goal of 30 books.

But let’s hope I’ll find the time to read more than this!

Wigtown, Scotland’s National Book Town

On Wednesday I returned from my nearly three week long holiday to Scotland, Ireland and England (in that order). In Scotland I had the opportunity to visit Wigtown, “Scotland’s National Book Town”. It was an adorable little village with various book stores, all with an interesting selection of books and all with that TARDIS effect: bigger on the inside than the outside. Browsing these stores was a delight! Most of the stores focussed on one or more specific topics and there’s something for everyone.


Book shops in every direction.


Definitely worth a visit for every booklover if you’re in the vicinity anyway!

The Wigtown website can be found here.