Of the Making of Books…

Hay Books 1Hay Books 5On Saturday we spent the day in Hay-on-Wye.  Like many, I had heard of this famous town of ‘Bookshops’ but never been.  The day itself couldn’t have been better – a beautiful sunny day, a pleasant journey with my wife and another couple, and, the (maybe the last) opportunity to wear shorts, sandals and a T-Shirt.  A perfect day.  Hay-on-Wye really is a lovely place but I’m not sure a visit during one of the festivals would suit me.  TheHay Books 2 bookshops I reckon would be ‘heaving’ making it mightily difficult to move round the small town, especially in the shops.  That said, I think I would like to go back perhaps a little more prepared.  I should have checked out the shops to visit.  There are 30 bookshops with over a million books and just going ‘on spec’ was, on reflection, not very wise.  I should have thought more about what I was looking for and checked the appropriate shops to visit.

Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes   ‘And more than these, my son, be warned: The making of many books has no end, and much study is the weariness of the flesh’ (Ecc 12:12).  One of the shops is in the castle and in the lower grassed area there are loads of books – 50p for a paperback and £1 for a hardback.  Several times I saw one of the staff come down with a box full of books to just bung on empty shelves – and there weren’t many of those.  If there is an end to books I guess it’s here, a charity shop or eventually the dump.  A fitting end to some no doubt.

John Gill writes on part of this verse:

Hay Books 3of making many books there is no end; many books, it seems, were written in Solomon’s time; there was the same itch of writing as now, it may be; but what was written was not to be mentioned with the sacred writings, were comparatively useless and worthless. Or the sense is, should Solomon, or any other, write ever so many volumes, it would be quite needless; and there would be no end of writing, Hay Books 6for these would not give satisfaction and contentment; and which yet was to be had in the word of God; and therefore that should be closely attended to: though this may be understood, not only of making or composing books, but of getting them, as Aben Ezra; of purchasing them, and so making them a man’s own. A man may lay out his money, and fill his library with books, and be very little the better for them; what one writer affirms, another denies; what one seems to have proved clearly, another rises up and points out his errors and mistakes; and this occasions replies and rejoinders, so that there is no end of these things, and scarce any profit by them; which, without so much trouble, may be found in the writings of wise men, inspired by God, and in which we should rest contented;

Hay Books 4Enjoy the pictures, and if you can pay a visit, have a meal at The Three Tunns – excellent!

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