The Atlantic Bookshelf: Conclusion

A wrap up of book reviews from Edward Weeks

UNDER the title of King Mob (Harcourt, Brace, $2,00) has appeared a tonic volume. The author, ‘Frank K. Notch,’sets out to show the violence which mob psychology exerts upon American taste and opinion in most things intellectual. His analysis brings hard criticism forcibly to bear on the book clubs, flouts those publishers who are treating books as merchandise, and routs half a dozen best sellers, books like Trader Horn, The Story of Philosophy, This Believing World, and so forth. He has some hard things to say about books of this sort; he believes that their sale was out of all proportion to their worth and that the public was and is being ‘panicked’ into buying them.
‘Against the background of a great book the reader slowly achieves self-realization. I suppose it to be clear that a dozen books so absorbed make a cultured man, while the reading of fifty books a year for twenty years may mean nothing at all.’ In support of this thesis ’Mr. Notch’ cites occasionally those books which seem to him important, among themThe Nature of the Physical World by Sir A. S. Eddington, Problems of Philosophy by Bertrand Russell, and M. A. Bolton’s Introduction to Relativity. Here is something to fasten the mind on.
While, for lighter reading, I should like to mention three books which have appealed strongly to me this year: that half-incredible but wholly delightful autobiography, The Story of San Michele, by Axel Munthe (Dutton, $3.75); that splendid exploration,The Worst Journey in the World, by Apsley Cherry-Garrard (Dial Press, $5.00); and Her Privates We, by Private 19022 (Putnam, $2.50) — yes, another war novel, but more manly and knowledgeable than any I have read.