10 Life Lessons from Old Books

readers+writers journal

Old Book StackBook Historian Extracts Modern Advice from Ancient Sources

Got issues? Whether you worry about how to leave parties, need to get rid of bedbugs, or simply want tips on impressing super-excellent ladies, a book historian has dusted down a library of ageless wisdom.

Bedbugs. Awkward conversations. Embarrassment on the dancefloor. No matter what problem you’re facing, the Past has already faced it. More importantly, the Past has already written about it. Medieval scribes sat in their scriptoria and copied recipes for shampoo and techniques for practical jokes involving raw meat. Renaissance printers dedicated their revolutionary moveable type to the dissemination of chat-up lines and friendly advice about armpit stench. Every century weighed in on the elusive hangover cure.

As a book historian, I’ve spent many hours examining the advice that past centuries found worthy of committing to paper, from dancing handbooks to etiquette manuals to recipe collections. I find these…

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