“We are now going to France.” says Scott, and the audience laughs.

“I’m going to warn you, this is quite a thin book, and it is a hardback, so it’s not cheap. But I do genuinely think it will appeal to all of you.”

Jacques Bonnet is an art publisher with a private collection of 40,000 books. And Phantoms on the Bookshelves is basically his love letter to why he likes collecting books. He talks about the practicality of collecting books, and explains why he will never get rid of a book.

We will all have our own book collections. It may just be a small shelf, sitting by a reading chair, or it may be an entire collection spread about the house, but we will all have the same problems. And that’s what Jacques talks about here.

It’s very self-deprecating and funny, and he even discusses things like “what system would you use for putting these books together? Do you put them by author surname, or by genre, or size?”

It will speak to all of us. There will be a part of this book where you just go: that’s me, that’s what I’m like. If you love books this is a great book for you, and I personally will reread this time and again to remind myself that I am not insane, that I’m not the only person doing these things.

He talks about when people say to him: “you can’t read all these books!” and he says that he has. He mightn’t have read them cover to cover, but every single book on his shelf will have passed through his hands. He will have read the blurb, maybe the inside page, and he’ll know where he was when he bought them. So in a way, Jacques has read all of them.

And he makes lots of truthful comments that we can recognise ourselves in. This book is one to add to any collection, big or small. And as Jacques says: books are expensive to buy, but the moment you buy them they are worthless to sell on.


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