Thursday, March 6, 2008

POB First Five Discussion Questions

I actually got caught up to the first section so will give my attempt at answering the first five of the questions that Bonnie posted:

1. We've met two main characters: Dr. Hanna Heath and Dr. Ozren Karaman (Muslim). What do you think of Hanna? What do you think of Dr. Ozren Karaman, "a thin young man in faded blue jeans" (p. 13)?

I like both Hanna and Ozren. They are both quite bright and appreciative of the value of books. The strained relationship of Hanna and her mother seems to have made her unable to form a close relationship. However, it did sound encouraging that she did obtain the medical tests of his son for her mother's review.

I ~ (pp. 3-13)

2. When I reached the words: "And then he handed me the book" (p. 13), I wrote this note: "Oooh, I wonder what that must have felt like, to know you are holding such a treasure!" If you click on Mary Zorro's link, you have the closest we can get here at Book Buddies to having the book in our hands: looking at it page by page. What do you think of those illustrations?

The illustrations are stunning and I appreciate Zorro posting the link.

II ~ (pp. 13-25)

3. Hanna believes, "Change. That's the enemy. Books do best when temperature, humidity, the whole environment, stay the same" (p. 13). See what change has done to the actual Haggadah by looking at the UN photo Mary Zorro found. Have you ever been dismayed at what's happened to an old book you have seen? Tell us about it.

I bought a large used book once that fell apart when I was reading it. I can't remember the title, but went between sadness at the book's destruction to going ahead and appreciating that at least the book was easier to transport in sections to read.

4. I love my books for what they SAY, not for their physical properties. Book collectors value a book for itself, the THING, not the words inside. I can see value in both views. Tell us what you value about books. Hanna says:

"To restore a book to the way it was when it was made is to lack respect for its history. I think you have to accept a book as you receive it from past generations, and to a certain extent damage and wear reflect that history. The way I see it, my job is to make it stable enough to allow safe handling and study, repairing only where absolutely necessary. This here," I said, pointing to a page where a russett stain bloomed over the fiery Hebrew calligraphy, "I can take a microscopic sample of those fibers, and we can analyze them, and maybe learn what made that stain -- wine would be my first guess. But a full analysis might provide clues as to where the book was at the time it happened" (p. 17).
III ~ (pp. 25-33)

Personally, I have valued books for what they say, but am finding the book's premise of repairing this book fascinating. I like Hanna's approach of repairing the book to allow safe handling and study much better than the restoration without appreciating the book's history. This discussion reminded me of a somewhat similar to discussion of quilt restoration and the practice of recycling worn out quilts to other products.

5. "Kunta Kinte" (p. 28) ... do you remember (or know about) Alex Haley's 1976 book Roots, which became a 12-hour TV mini-series in 1977? Could we say this novel is about the "roots" of a book?

I remember watching the TV mini-series about the book "Roots". I also remember the controversy about whether or not Haley stole the ideas for part of his book, but can't remember the resolution. Hopefully, "People of the Book" won't be involved in a similar controversy.


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