Noted author, bibliophile Basbanes to lecture today

Acclaimed author and bibliophile Nicholas Basbanes will give a talk titled “Among the Gently Mad” at 7:30 p.m. today in Whispers CafĂ© in Olin Library.

Basbanes’ passion for books, his engaging investigations into the history of book-collecting, and his insight on the challenges facing the book in the 21st century have made him one of the most respected and popular chroniclers of the history of the printed word.

His first book, A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books, was a finalist for the 1995 National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

His newest book, A Splendor of Letters, prompted AndrĂ© Bernard of The New York Observer to write that “no other writer has traced the history of the book so thoroughly or so engagingly, with such a warm human touch.”

Basbanes’ other books include Patience and Fortitude: A Roving Chronicle of Book People, Book Places, and Book Culture; Among the Gently Mad: Strategies and Perspectives for the Book Hunter of the 21st Century; and A Splendor of Letters: The Permanence of Books in an Impermanent World.

His next book, Every Book Its Reader, is about great readers and will be in bookstores in the fall.

Basbanes was born in Lowell, Mass., in 1943 and graduated from Bates College in 1965. In 1968, he earned a master’s degree from Pennsylvania State University before serving as a Naval officer on the aircraft carrier Oriskany in the Tonkin Gulf from 1969-1970.

An award-winning investigative reporter in the 1970s, Basbanes went on to serve as the literary editor for the Worcester Sunday Telegram from 1978-1991.

Afterward, he wrote a nationally syndicated column on books for eight years.

In addition to publishing books about books, Basbanes writes a bimonthly column in Fine Books & Collections Magazine called “Gently Mad” and a monthly review of children’s books for Literary Features Syndicate.

Basbanes’ talk is free and open to the public, but a reservation is needed (935-8003; Those making a reservation should provide a name and the number of people in their party.

For more information, call 935-5418.