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TO JAN. 19

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Long before the days of Amazon.com, a guy named Gutenberg came up with a neat-o way to mass-produce books. Thanks to him, reading became a middle-class pastime, and nearly every household in Renaissance-era Europe shelved Bibles, cookbooks, illuminated works, collections of essays, biographies of saints, and books of baseball statistics. OK, so maybe not baseball statistics. The reading material of Shakespeare and his contemporaries is the subject of “The Reader Revealed,” an exhibition presented by the Folger Shakespeare Library that features items from its collection of 16th- and 17th-century manuscripts, engravings, and books, including one whose original owner hollowed out its binding so he’d have a place for his reading glasses. Other revelations: Doodling on the pages (pictured) is not a modern phenomenon, and people used books to prop up both their furniture and their social standing. Find out what your forebears were reading (and writing in the margins) in this show that examines the relationship between humans and one of our most beloved forms of entertainment. “The Reader Revealed” is on view from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday to Saturday, Jan. 19, at the Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol St. SE. Free. (202) 544-7077. (Robin Dougherty)