Temples of Books

‘Temples of Books’ Is an Ode to the Grandeur and Democratic Ideals of Public Libraries


Lots of lovely images of libraries. I can almost smell the books!! Click on the link or on the image below…

Thinking in Centuries

In his new book, The Long View: Why We Need To Transform How the World Sees Time, BBC journalist Richard Fisher explains how this short-term mindset has come to dominate Western society, why that could spell disaster for our future, and explores historic and real world examples of those who are taking a long-term view.

From the architects who began work on England’s Wells Cathedral in 1175 knowing that construction wouldn’t be complete until well after their deaths, to an experiment at an Australian laboratory still ongoing a century after it began, and the Indigenous tribes whose ways of life are centered on intergenerational links, Fisher argues what makes humans unique is our ability to learn from the past and envision the future.

We Can Start Thinking in Centuries


In the book Hopeland a character declares “orthopraxy not orthodoxy” and, later, “doing not believing”.

Orthodox is the combination of two Greek words. Ortho means correct or upright. Dox means belief or opinion. The correct belief. Orthopraxy combines ortho with the word praxy, which means action, doing, or practice. The right deed, the right practice. 

There is much orthodoxy on this planet and not enough orthopraxy. 

I will not become a good guitar player by believing that I am good, but through practice. I would go so far as to say it doesn’t really matter what I believe because it is only what I do that matters. Nobody should care what I believe. My actions (or practice), on the other hand, matter. Believing is easy, doing is hard, which is why we would rather believe than do. 

I think this applies to everything in life.


It draws on so many threads – music and art, climate justice, mysticism, electrical engineering, economics, gender politics – and has such a huge cast of finely drawn characters. By all rights, it should collapse under its own weight. I mean, seriously – who can write multi-page passages describing imaginary music and make it riveting?
Pluralistic: Ian McDonald’s “Hopeland” (30 May 2023)

Multi-page passages describing imaginary music and it’s riveting? Sounds like it might be the next book on my reading list. 

Books by Color

I attended a publishing conference this week and moderated a panel on the future of the bookshop, before meeting many of the reps who sell our books to retailers around the world. And it transpired that not only is photography becoming a decorative commodity but parts of the book trade are too. The Scandinavian agent explained that one of his region’s biggest online retailers now lets you search for titles not by topic or author but by jacket colour.

Saturday 27 May 2023 – Monocle Minute | Monocle

To Live

Flying home yesterday I had a lot of time to look at an old friend, the Tao Te Ching as told by Ursula K. LeGuin. I read the notes that follow her rendition–she doesn’t speak Chinese and makes it clear that it is not a translation–and they are quite wonderful. 

Evidently we aren’t the only society or generation to puzzle over what a family is and ought to be.

Or this one:

There are times Lao Tzu sounds very like Henry David Thoreau, but Lao Tzu was kinder. When Thoreau says to distrust any enterprise that requires new clothes, I distrust him. He is macho, flaunting his asceticism. Lao Tzu knows that getting all entangled with the external keeps us from the eternal, but (see chapter 80) he also understands that sometimes people like to get dressed up.

He is macho, flaunting his asceticism. :-)

I love LeGuin’s directness. Take the example of chapter 33. One translation I have says:

Die without perishing and your life will endure.

Pretty mystical, that translation. Or here is another one:

Those who die without being forgotten get longevity.

A little more simple, but not quite to the point, equating life with remembrance.

Here is LeGuin’s version:

To live till you die is to live long enough.


I shall end this post with another wonderful observation in LeGuin’s notes:

Having replaced instinct with language, society, and culture, we are the only species that depends on teaching and learning. We aren’t human without them. In them is true power. But are they the occupations of the rich and mighty?