WITHIN THE SPHERE OF LETTERS.-GLANCE AT
BOOKS AND MAGAZINES-THEIR
MESSAGES AND MAKERS.
Mr. Geo. W. Forbes, A.M., Librarian West End Branch
Boston Public Library.
HOW infinitely small a part of life's daily rounds is run
off in accordance with any law of necessity, partic-
ularly in the world of books, may be gathered from
the names of the 250 best books which the New
York Times people announced in December from
the publishers as Christmas offerings. Quite two-
fifths, or rather more than a hundred of the entire
number, were novels outright, while a goodly part of
another fifth was embraced under what the library
fraternity calls books for the young. The re-
mainder of the list falls under the general heading of miscellany,
going equally into the several divisions of travel, biography, history
and essays, with a small collection of verses thrown in here and
there. Though one would hardly imitate here the old Persian ruler
who burst into tears because not one of his mighty invading army
would be alive in another hundred years, it is certain that in this
list of books there are but few of the immortal names that were not
born to die. A requiescat in pace is almost evident in their names.
You could count on the fingers of the hands those among the new
books which have a permanent value, while among the old the re-
prints are not sufficiently numerous to warrant any hope of an
impending revival for a classic. Yet as people must be amused and
entertained as well as instructed, in literature as elsewhere, we shall
have to mark time until the coming of a new captain to give the
forward command and lead the way.