Portable Magic

We rated this book:


Books about books and reading always catch my interest and I’m glad this “history of books and their readers” was among them. It presents a wonderful selection of topics, ranging from book burning to bookbinding, African American poetry to Choose Your Own Adventure.

Emma Smith is interested in the magical powers of books themselves—the physical objects, beyond the words within their pages. She looks back across the centuries to folk tales in which a demon or genie emerges from a magical book, describes books designed to fit into the pockets of World War II soldiers, and examines the thorny question: Are e-books books? How necessary are the physical pages and our own hands turning them?

Portable Magic is not told in a historical, linear fashion and instead encourages the reader to dip in to whichever chapter appeals in the moment. Most of the examples are drawn from the English-speaking world, the U.S. and United Kingdom in particular (although not exclusively), and the collection is peppered with fascinating tidbits such as the rare book lost when the Titanic sank (it was about a disaster!) and how family bibles preserve history.

This book is highly recommended for bibliophiles, librarians, and history buffs, and it would make a wonderful gift book for any of them.

Reviewed By:

Author Emma Smith
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 352 pages
Publisher Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publish Date 15-Nov-2022
ISBN 9781524749095 Buy this Book
Issue December 2022
Category Books About Books