I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library. -Jorge Luis Borges
I've been exploring the world of e-books lately, reading a few books on my Kindle, and yes…there is a lovely convenience to this whole e-book thing. Yet I remain a total book lover–no amount of convenience is going to change that. What I want, along with a good read, is the aesthetic of the book as object. Recently I had a conversation with a friend who loves reading and stories, but isn't much of a bibliophile – and is convinced that electronic books will soon be taking over, and that books in bookstores and even libraries are eventually on their way out. OK, I get the efficiency and convenience and the staggering knowledge base that can be contained in a flat plastic thing with a screen (and I get that I could carry hundreds of books in my purse this way)… but — to the frustration of my techie-minded and forward-thinking friend — there is nothing like a real book.
I love the art of the thing, the texture, the smell of ink and paper and board, even suede and leather; I want the immensely satisfying visual and tactile reality of the book. I love seeing thousands of books crammed in bookshelves — I love the sight of them, the color, texture and design, and the way that an infinity of thoughts, facts and imagination can surround us all at once in a room full of books. I love bookstores–and that absolute paradise of books, the library.
So here you go, let's take a break here on the blog and go for a stroll through a paradise of libraries full of books, from the oldest (the legendary library of Alexandria) to libraries we can use today. Set aside your e-reader, set down your paperback, enlarge the blog perimeters on your screen, and just enjoy. A picture's worth thousands of words, books, and thoughts …
Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house.
– Henry Ward Beecher
The ancient Library of Alexandria
Chained medieval books in Hereford Castle
The Bodeian Library, Oxford
Trinity College Library, Dublin
Castle Hill, Prague
Library of Congress, Washington DC
Garrett Library, Evergreen Museum, Baltimore
Are you a dedicated bibliophile, or have e-books won you over? Or do you have a foot planted firmly in each world? Do you think libraries (and bookshelves crammed with books) will never disappear, or do you foresee a future filled with gorgeously appointed mahogany-shelved libraries filled with sleek plastic and silicone e-readers?
Susan, whose real book, Queen Hereafter, will be available in real and cyber bookstores and in e-book form in December!