Monday December 7th, 2009

Slim & Grim Pickings

doolittleAs the repetitive Best of ‘09 lists continue to pile up (OK, OK, I like Lorrie Moore, too), I was hoping someone would do something like this, and Jill Lepore is the perfect person for it. She has listed the Top Ten Books of 1709. The task of whittling them down was far less onerous than it is these days:

Something north of a hundred and fifty thousand books were published in 2009. That number daunted me, so I got to thinking of a year, three centuries ago, when, in all of the British mainland colonies, only thirty-one books were printed (if you discount a handful of broadsheets, proclamations, and volumes of laws). The pickings are slim—and grim [ . . . ] All but three books published in 1709 were religious tracts, printed in Boston, and nearly all of them have to do with the day of judgment.

One of the ten books has this catchy title: Solemn Advice to Young Men Not to Walk in the Wayes of Their Heart and in Sight of Their Eyes; but to remember the Day of Judgment. Read the full list here.