Thomas Edison Loved Books as much as he loved Inventing

“I read anything that helps the imagination.”

Whether it is 1847 or 2019, we can all appreciate National Book Lover’s Day. Did you know Thomas Edison had a book collection of up to 30 thousand books in his home alone? That doesn’t even include the ones he took out from other libraries – which is reportedly entire town libraries when he was traveling often in his teenage years! Imagine what he would do with a kindle today.

Thomas Edison’s West Orange corporate library, located at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park, has 3 floors full of books!

TThomas Edison’s love for books started when he was young. His mother, who was also his homeschool teacher, encouraged him to read across the panorama of literature – not just what he liked but everything. He once said, “Oh, I read everything! not merely scientific works, but anything that helps the imagination.”

One of Edison’s favorite authors was Thomas Paine, the American Revolution literary patriot. As he got older, he also enjoyed reading the works and accomplishments of his technology hero, Michael Faraday.

Edison may have been one of the first to implement corporate libraries, so inventive employees had the latest and greatest information right at their fingertips. He pioneered this at his Menlo Park lab and later expanded it in his West Orange labs – known today as the Thomas Edison National Historical Park.

Books lining the walls of Thomas Edison’s living room of his Glenmont estate. Many of the books on one side of this room are technical compendiums for Edison’s evening inventive marathons.

LConsidering his love for books, Edison would have been honored to have books about him written today. If you are a fellow book lover, today is the perfect day to pick up an excellent biographies about Edison and learn more about his life. Here are some of our favorites:

  1. Lenny Degraaf; ”Edison and the Rise of Innovation”
  2. Baldwin, Neil; “Edison, Inventing the Century”
  3. Conot, Robert; “Thomas A. Edison-A Streak of Luck”
  4. Israel, Paul; “Edison-A Life of Invention”
  5. Josephson, Mathew; “Edison”

RLeft: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

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