BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

What to say?

This was one of those books which was obtained specifically to give me something to read on the train ride home from work when I managed to (unexpectedly) finish what I had been reading on the way up there in the morning. Fortunately, there is a used bookstore across the street from the Davis stop up in Evanston, and I was able to pop in there at lunch to find something on their "cheap" tables. I'd just finished a book which was a bit Franklin-fixated, and figured that this would be a swell follow-up!

Anyway, that's how I found myself reading The Wit and Wisdom of Benjamin Franklin, a small, brief (under 100 pages), hardcover collection by Barnes & Noble, which didn't even bother to list who had acted as editor (although there is a 2-page Preface by an S.M. Wu and an illustrator noted).

Now, I'm not much given to reading this sort of thing, as (generally speaking) if I'm reasonably familiar with the subject of the book, I've probably gotten a smattering of its contents already, and this is hardly a selection of Franklin's "best writing". This draws from various sources, including Poor Richard's Almanac, and has many pages where some couplets or adages stand one or two to the page with some illustration ... none of which provide any great revelations, such as "Light Purse, Heavy Heart" or "Death takes no bribes."

I suppose that there are those out there, however, who suffer from a poor education and have no idea who Franklin is, aside from the Dead White Guy on the "benjamins". For these sorts, this might serve as a valuable introduction ... especially as it would likely also be the first exposure to the Enlightenment that they'd have (not that I'd be expecting folks to jump from this to Paine's The Age of Reason). I hate to suggest it as a book for children (as it neither flatters Franklin nor the kids), but it would be a painless read that could amuse and prove a useful basis for future reading.

Not that I'm saying the book is bad, it's just not very deep ... which I suppose a thin "wit and wisdom" collection isn't shooting for, and was, unexpectedly, a bit of a chore to finish (much like having to sit through a movie targeted to 8-year-olds). There was a feeling of encountering a long magazine article and skipping over the actual text and just reading the picture captions and side-bars.

If this does have some appeal to you, you're in luck, as "like new" copies are available for as little as a penny. I paid $2.00 (marked down from the $4.95 cover price), so if one was interested in adding this to one's library, I'd recommend keeping an eye out for it in the used book stores (where you'd be avoiding paying shipping)!

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Tags: book review
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