Heffers' Classics favourites
If you want your local bookshop to survive, you have to get off your arse to support it. One thing is to buy stuff there (Amazon may be wonderful, but you can't browse in the same way, or fully test drive the product before you read it -- and I doubt that Amazon will ever have on your doorstep tomorrow some of the specialist Classics books that Heffers has on the shelves). Another is to participate in events there, like 150 plus of us did at Heffers last night -- which you cant do on-line. On-line engagement with the Amazon site tends to be a pretty solitary thing.
Heffers was hosting a Classics event. This was partly to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Loeb Classical Library (which is apparently about to go digital); partly to celebrate great Classics books in general. Four of us -- me, Paul Cartledge, Tom Holland and Michael Scott -- had a few weeks ago chosen up to 10 of our favourite Classical books to be publicised in a Classics "drive" within the shop.
Last night we were asked to pitch a couple of them, in 3 minutes-ish, to an audience who were enjoying a late night book shopping trip, with a glass or two of wine.
So what did we choose?
Well Tom couldn't bring himself to select, so whizzed through his whole ten (starting with Asterix, and including Lane Fox's Pagans and Christians and, yes allow me this, my Triumph book). Michael picked Dodds's Greeks and the Irrational, Settis's The Future of the Classical, and Price and Thonemann's Birth of Classical Europe. Paul kept himself to one title and picked Mary Renault's Last of the Wine (with a wonderfully personal speech about falling in love with it when he was at school).
I went for two: first, Vernant's The Universe, the Gods and Mortals. which is about the most revealing retelling of Greek myths that there is (I said yesterday that I often stood in bookshops watching people buying Robert Graves's Greek Myths -- and wanting to intervene and say 'stop..it looks like a sensible handbook, but it is actually mad Mother Goddess stuff'); second, Kennedy's Latin Primer, because of the wonderful sense of control it offers over the Latin language itself -- not to mention the "memorial rhymes" at the back (and the Molesworth cartoon of Kennedy leading the gerund into captivity)
So what would you recommend as a great Classics book for the general reader? suggestions please. And meanwhile congratulations to Heffers for a great book evening.