Book Lust: Marcus Aurelius

Not surprisngly, I’ve got a bit of a book-buying problem. And by problem, I mean I’ve got a book-buying addiction. I love books, and bookstores, and browsing for books, which is all well and good. But I also really like buying books. There aren’t that many things I’m keen to own, but I’m always happy to add to my library. Unfortunately, if I bought every book that caught my fancy, eventually one giant stack would tip over, triggering a domino-style collapse throughout my entire apartment, burying me alive. Or burying me dead, if I was lucky enough to get an OED or The Complete Works of Shakespeare to the head during the downfall.

Two things save me from this fate: my public library card, and my habit of making interminable lists of the books I want to read in the future (once I toil through my already sky-high To-Be-Read stack). Since I got my iphone (and started getting strange looks when I walked around bookstores furtively copying down titles in my notebook) these lists have begun to have a more visual existence. I thought I’d share some of my book lusts with you. Maybe some of you have a similar problem…in which case, I’d love to hear what books you’re lusting after!

Biography of "Marcus Aurelius" by Frank McLynn.

I was at the Harvard Bookstore listening to Nicholas Carr’s talk about The Shallows when I spotted Frank McLynn’s Marcus Aurelius in the biography section. I’ve always been intrigued by Rome’s philosopher-emperor, and several of the characters in Louise Erdrich’s The Plague of Doves read and quote extensively from Aurelius’ Meditations. I didn’t buy it, but I’m trying to track down a used copy of Meditations, and once it’s in hand, I’ll make a trip to the library for McLynn’s biography. How could you not want to learn more about the man who said “Soon you’ll be ashes or bones. A mere name at most–and even that is just a sound, an echo. The things we want in life are empty, stale, trivial.” Perfect beach reading, right?

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