A living reading list
I intend to update this as I go, arranged by topic as best I can. The texts are arranged in roughly descending order of importance i.e. how strongly I would recommend them to somebody new to the subject.
All articles will be open-source and/or can be found on academia.edu. If you can’t find a text you’re interested in, DM me on twitter and I’ll point you in the right direction. Books listed are possibly open-source online, but are more likely ones I’ve bought myself or borrowed from the library.
Formatting may be janky as it's lifted straight out of zotero with minimal cleaning.
- notetaking, contemporary
- notetaking, a history of: general, commonplace books, almanacs, slip notes/index cards, education and literacy
- book history
- generally interesting
📚 Ahrens, S. (2022) How to take smart notes: One simple technique to boost writing, learning and thinking. Sönke Ahrens.
One of the best introductions to not only zettelkasten but notetaking in general. Thoroughly recommended.
📚 McPherson, D.F. (2007) Effective Notetaking. 3rd edition. Wayz Press.
📚 Forte, T. (2022) Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organise Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential. Profile Books.
📚 Zinsser, W. (2013) Writing to Learn: How to Write - and Think - Clearly About Any Subject at All. New York: Harper Paperbacks.
📄 Jackson, H.J. (no date) ‘Marginalia and Authorship’, in Oxford Handbooks Editorial Board (ed.) Oxford Handbook Topics in Literature. Oxford University Press, p. 0. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199935338.013.149.
Notetaking, a history of
📚 Blair, A. (2010) Too much to know: managing scholarly information before the modern age. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.
The single best overview of notetaking and knowledge management c.1300-1800.
📄 Blair, A. (2003) ‘Reading Strategies for Coping with Information Overload ca. 1550-1700’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 64(1), pp. 11–28. Available at: https://doi.org/10.2307/3654293.
A potted preview of the 2010 book, with a more restricted time period.
📄 Yeo, R. (2008) ‘Notebooks as memory aids: Precepts and practices in early modern England’, Memory Studies, 1(1), pp. 115–136. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/1750698007083894.
📄 Soll, J. (2010) ‘From Note‐Taking to Data Banks: Personal and Institutional Information Management in Early Modern Europe’, Intellectual History Review, 20(3), pp. 355–375. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/17496977.2010.492615.
📄 Blair, A. and Stallybrass, P. (2010) ‘Mediating Information, 1450–1800’, in C. Siskin and W. Warner (eds) This Is Enlightenment. University of Chicago Press, p. 0. Available at: https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226761466.003.0007.
Very similar to Blair 2003.
📚 Rhodes, N. and Sawday, J. (eds) (2000) The Renaissance computer: knowledge technology in the first age of print. London ; New York: Routledge.
A highly original book looking at how components of technology can be seen in Early Modern books and note-taking.
📄 Dorandi, T. (2016) ‘Chapter 1: Notebooks and Collections of Excerpts: Moments of ars excerpendii in the Greco-Roman world’, in Forgetting Machines: Knowledge Management Evolution in Early Modern Europe. BRILL.
📄 Blair, A. (2004) ‘Note Taking as an Art of Transmission’, Critical Inquiry, 31(1), pp. 85–107. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1086/427303.
📄 Blair, A.M. (2007) ‘Organizations of knowledge’, in J. Hankins (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Renaissance Philosophy. 1st edn. Cambridge University Press, pp. 287–303. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL052184648X.015.
📄 Nelles, P. (2009) ‘Reading and Memory in the Universal Library: Conrad Gessner and the Renaissance Book’, in D. Beecher and G. Williams (eds) Ars Reminiscendi: Mind and Memory in Renaissance Culture. Toronto, p. 169.
📄 McEvoy, J. (ed.) (1996) Robert Grosseteste: New Perspectives on his Thought and scholarship. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers (Instrumenta Patristica et Mediaevalia). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1484/M.IPM-EB.5.112138.
📚 Havens, E. (2001) Commonplace books: a history of manuscripts and printed books from antiquity to the twentieth century. New Haven, CT: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, distributed by University Press of New England.
The best overview of the subject.
📄 Havens, E. (2002) ‘“Of Common Places, or Memorial Books”: an anonymous manuscript on commonplace books and the art of memory in seventeenth-century England’, The Yale University Library Gazette, 76(3/4), pp. 136–153.
📄 Blair, A. (1992) ‘Humanist Methods in Natural Philosophy: The Commonplace Book’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 53(4), p. 541. Available at: https://doi.org/10.2307/2709935.
📄 Stallybrass, P. et al. (2004) ‘Hamlet’s Tables and the Technologies of Writing in Renaissance England’, Shakespeare Quarterly, 55(4), pp. 379–419. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1353/shq.2005.0035.
Less about Hamlet and more about writing tables.
📄 Smyth, A. (2008) ‘Almanacs, Annotators, and Life‐Writing in Early Modern England’, English Literary Renaissance, 38(2), pp. 200–244. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6757.2008.00122.x.
🌐 ’Tis the season for almanacs (2013) The Collation. Available at: https://collation.folger.edu/2013/12/tis-the-season-for-almanacs/ (Accessed: 15 October 2022).
📄 Kassell, L. (2011) ‘Almanacs and Prognostications’, in J. Raymond (ed.) The Oxford History of Popular Print Culture: Volume One: Cheap Print in Britain and Ireland to 1660. Oxford University Press, p. 0. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199287048.003.0031.
Slip notes, index cards, etc
📄 Schmidt, J.F.K. (2018) ‘Niklas Luhmann’s Card Index: The Fabrication of Serendipity’, Sociologica, 12(1), pp. 53–60. Available at: https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.1971-8853/8350.
📄 Charmantier, I. and Müller-Wille, S. (2014) ‘Carl Linnaeus’s botanical paper slips (1767–1773)’, Intellectual History Review, 24(2), pp. 215–238. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/17496977.2014.914643.
📄 Müller-Wille, S. and Charmantier, I. (2012) ‘Natural history and information overload: The case of Linnaeus’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 43(1), pp. 4–15. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsc.2011.10.021.
🌐 Filing, seventeenth-century style (2013) The Collation. Available at: https://collation.folger.edu/2013/03/filing-seventeenth-century-style/ (Accessed: 28 September 2022).
Education and literacy
📚 Houston, R.A. (1988) Literacy in early modern Europe: culture and education, 1500-1800. London ; New York: Longman.
📄 Enterline, L. (2013) ‘Schooling in the English Renaissance’, in Oxford Handbooks Editorial Board (ed.) Oxford Handbook Topics in Literature. Oxford University Press, p. 0. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199935338.013.76.
📄 Grafton, A. (2006) ‘Libraries and Lecture Halls’, in K. Park and L. Daston (eds) The Cambridge History of Science. 1st edn. Cambridge University Press, pp. 238–250. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521572446.011.
📚 Pettegree, A. (2011) The book in the Renaissance. Paperback ed. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press.
The best and most comprehensive introduction to the book in the Renaissance.
📚 Duncan, D. (2021) Index, a history of the: a bookish adventure. London: Allen Lane, an imprint of Penguin Books.
One of my favourite reads overall; very readable, highly entertaining, and chock full of interesting tidbits. Make sure to check out the index itself in this one.
📚 Flanders, J. (2021) A place for everything: the curious history of alphabetical order. London: Picador.
📚 Battles, M. (2004) Library: an unquiet history. London: Vintage.
📚 Clemens, R. and Graham, T. (2007) Introduction to manuscript studies. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
📚 Gillespie, A. and Wakelin, D. (2011) The Production of Books in England 1350-1500. Cambridge University Press.
📚 Reynolds, L.D. and Wilson, N.G. (2013) Scribes and scholars: a guide to the transmission of Greek and Latin literature. Fourth edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
📄 Grafton, A. (2021) ‘Chapter 6. The Margin as Canvas: A Forgotten Function of the Early Printed Page’, in K. (Kevin) Chang, A. Grafton, and G.W. Most (eds) Impagination – Layout and Materiality of Writing and Publication. De Gruyter, pp. 185–208. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110698756-007.
📚 Burke, P. (2021) The polymath: a cultural history from Leonardo da Vinci to Susan Sontag. First published in paperback. New Haven London: Yale University Press.
📚 Burkeman, O. (2021) _Four Thousand Weeks. Vintage Digital.
Thought-provoking and impactful, it makes you look at productivity a very different way.
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