The Atlantic Bookshelf: Conclusion

A wrap up of book reviews from Edward Weeks

THIS, heaven be praised, is the season for rumination. It is curious and wasteful how accustomed we become to the appearance of our own bookshelves and how seldom we have even better than a nodding acquaintance with the volumes that repose therein. Not until a friend began to glow over Mahan’sLife of Nelson did I realize how much I wanted to read that masterly biography which for years had stood in my grandfather’s collection. . . . Perhaps I in turn can start you off on one or two new trails. You will be lucky if from a private or public library you can borrow Hawkesworth’sVoyages and so lose yourself in the sturdy and vivid expeditions that Wallace, Cook, and those other great mariners led to the South Seas a century and a half ago. . . . Or if seafaring is beyond your ken, and if a garden means more to you than the Cup Defender, may I suggest that you will sharpen even your summer perceptions if you linger over some pages of Thoreau. Thoreau suffers that fate common to so many standard authors, of seeming to have lost all possible power of excitement. But don’t you believe it. There’s a charming little green-clad book by J. Brooks Atkinson, the dramatic critic, — Henry Thoreau, the Cosmic Yankee, — which will make you want to see more of the man himself. . . .Or, if you delight in manners and enjoy a comparison of society past and present, I urge you to read another book little known on this side of the water, The Aristocratic Journey, by Mrs. Basil Hall, a sensitive, humorous, and undeniable account of how the ‘aristocrats’ comported themselves in the United States a hundred years ago.