Among the 5,000 books available for the Libronix Digital Library System there are a few that make people wonder, “Why did they produce that one?”
Years ago, someone gave our family a copy of The Works of Eugene Field. In high school I read a few volumes with mild interest before getting to the final volume, The Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac, with which I fell promptly in love.
I was in my seventh year then, and I had learned to read I know not when. The back and current numbers of the “Well-Spring” had fallen prey to my insatiable appetite for literature. With the story of the small boy who stole a pin, repented of and confessed that crime, and then became a good and great man, I was as familiar as if I myself had invented that ingenious and instructive tale; I could lisp the moral numbers of Watts and the didactic hymns of Wesley, and the annual reports of the American Tract Society had already revealed to me the sphere of usefulness in which my grandmother hoped I would ultimately figure with discretion and zeal. And yet my heart was free; wholly untouched of that gentle yet deathless passion which was to become my delight, my inspiration, and my solace, it awaited the coming of its first love.
Eugene Field was a poet and journalist in the late 19th century (most famous now for Little Boy Blue and Wynken, Blynken, and Nod). His fanciful memoir of an old bibliomaniac delighted me; I found within it the name of my book obsession and license to revel in the malady.
I memorized the first chapter for recitation at a drama competition, and for years afterwards I pressed copies into the hands of fellow book lovers.
One of these fellow bibliomaniacs worked at Logos in our text production department. He took it upon himself to type the entire book and then presented it, fait accompli, in Logos format. And so it went into our collection as an unlock, with about five to ten copies sold each year.
So, is it useful for Bible study? No, but it is a delightful read if you are enchanted by chapter titles like “The Luxury of Reading in Bed,” “On the Odors Which My Books Exhale,” and “Our Debt to Monkish Men.” And now it is free.