Christopher N. Phillips, The Hymnal: A Reading History

Phillips divides the book into three sites of social reading: the church, the school, and the home, primarily in English society of the 18th and 19th Century. The church was a place of social identity where hymns were sung. James Martineau, a British Unitarian compiler and hymnist, recorded in his hymn book the dates that hymns were sung. In schools, the hymn book was a way of teaching reading to children. The hymn, “When I Can Read My Title Clear” was one of the most popular family hymns that helped children to read (106). The home was the place of the “private hymnbook” (185). A title such as Hymns for Mothers and Children traveled from one family to another because of its large size and many illustrations. Today, we would probably call this a coffee table book. Phillips points out that his chapters may be read separately or chronologically to give a sense of history. ☛ ☞

Pier Mattia Tommasino, The Venetian Qur’an: A Renaissance Companion to Islam

Published in the Material Texts series of the University of Pennsylvania Press, Pier Mattia Tommasino’s The Venetial Qur’an is an exemplary work of textual scholarship and a fascinating exploration of the political, religious, and literary milieu of sixteenth-century Italy. Remarkable both for its impressive erudition and refreshing readability, this monograph delves into the history of the (presumably) first translation of the Qur’an from Arabic into a European vernacular language. ☛ ☞