In A Dream Library…

I have meant to put up several posts and book reviews in the last few days, either I have not thought the book reviews were quite right or good enough (I am still slightly sulking that none of you commented on what has been one of my favourite reviews I have written ever, ha) or I have been too manic in the final few days of Liverpool’s Literary Festival, ‘In Other Words’,  which ends on Sunday. This week the big, big news is the forthcoming reopening of Liverpool’s Central Library on Friday… and guess where I was today?

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I have to say that walking through a fairly people-less library is a very odd feeling indeed – especially one that sprawls over five stories and goes into several different buildings. It has to be seen to be believed (and I can’t give too much away yet but expect a post on it this weekend). I can say they have pulled off something very rare as the library mixes the brand spanking new with a facade from 1860 and the restoration of The Hornby Library and Picton Reading Room from 1906 which link into the main building magically. Oh go on then… as you have seen some of the new I will let you see some of the newly restored too.

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As we were shown the finished building I discovered that it took 4 months to stock the library (with old and new stock – I imagined it was all knew and that they had binned, thank heavens they hadn’t) which has 15,393 metres of shelves which can house approximately 355,000 books. Amazing! You can guess where my new favourite place in Liverpool is going to be! This also made me ponder…

If you had 15,393 metres of shelves at your disposal, for your own lending library, what would be the first five books that you would put in them for people to borrow? I would love your suggestions (I am bound to have read hardly any of them) and will reveal mine when I do a big library reveal blog post later in the week. So over to you, name your five…

20 Comments

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20 responses to “In A Dream Library…

  1. sounds stunning simon ,all the best stu

  2. First five:
    East of Eden – John Steinbeck
    The Lord of the Rings trilogy – JRR Tolkien (everyone counts this as one so it doesn’t really feel like cheating)
    Tiny Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed
    What It Is Like To Go To War – Karl Marlantes
    Eating Animals – Jonathan Safran Foer

    354,495 to go!!!

  3. My first five:

    1. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
    2. Ariel – Andre Maurois
    3. The Magus – John Fowles
    4. The Go-Between – L.P. Hartley
    5. The Quest for Corvo – A.J.A. Symons

    • I think To Kill A Mockingbird would be in my top five, which as yet I still have not written, but I will… soon.The Magus and Fowles have been a book I have heard great things about and an author I have been meaning to return to for ages.

  4. rosario001

    I’ve been looking forward to this for months. I’m going with a few friends on Friday, around the time when the light show starts. I’m really hoping the weather will be ok, because we’ll probably start out at the food and drink festival nearby!

  5. 1. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
    2. Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison
    3. Walden, Henry David Thoreau
    4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
    5. The World According to Garp, John Irving

    • Ooh liking the Atwood choice. I wonder which my first Atwood in my library would be, possibly a toss up between this and Cat’s Eye I think, though of course they would all end up in there eventually.

      I must get roung to The World According to Garp at some point.

  6. Erika W.

    I thought there would be many, many replies to this entry of yours, but surprisingly = no. So here are my five books, including a trilogy, “The Lord of the Rings” having led the way.

    Each of these stunned me into awe on first reading and I have re-read them many times. I think of them as somewhat unknown–why I have chosen them, but this may be my ignorance. They live together on a tiny bedside table shelf, ready at hand for me always.
    1. Henry Handel Richardson, a woman writer’s pseudonym, “The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney” ( “Australia Felix”, “The Way Home” and “Ultima Thule”) Written during and after WWI this is Australia’s great work–Tolstoy and George Eliot pull out a chair for the author to sit between you.
    2. Viktor Rydberg, “Singoalla”. I have only read this in translation.I am sure every Swede has read it or at least knows of it. It portray’s Sweden during the Black Death.
    3.Christina Stead, “The Man who Loved Children” and I have a 1st edition–of which I believe less than 100 copies sold. I found it as an undergraduate on David’s book stall in Cambridge market.
    4. Lolah Burford, “The Vision of Stephen”. This is a magical little book and with a touch of genius the writer has taken the commonplace theme of time travel and put both periods in the past–the Dark, very dark, Ages and the beginning of the 1800s.
    5.The crazily fantastic book by Maurice Richardson, “The Exploits of Engelbrecht” with eery illustrations by James Boswell in the styles of Dore, Landseer and other famous painters. 1950 and never reprinted, I believe. If you do not know Engelbrecht the dwarf’s boxing match with a grandfather clock you do not know how funny funny can be!

    There you go–make every reader in your imaginary library check out one of them before receiving a permanent library card!

    • The only one of yours that I have heard of is The Man Who Loved Children which, one of my idols, Marieke Hardy tore into on an episode of The First Tuesday Book Club some time ago and I couldn’t work out if that make me want to read it or not.

      I think people think I have stopped blogging as I went so quiet so comments are down, not that I count them – honest!

  7. Erika W.

    I did a little homework. H H Richardson was Ethel Florence Richardson, 1870-1946.
    Maurice Richardson’s (no relation) Engelbrecht stories first appeared in Lilliput magazine and they have been reprinted in 1977 and 2000 so I am not the lone admirer. J.G. Ballard wrote “English Surrealism at its greatest…years ahead of his time” More than one illustrator–I got this wrong.

  8. That’s a tough question. I think I’ll go with:

    Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
    The Diary of Young Girl
    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
    Flowers for Algernon
    The Handmaid’s Tale

    (Just realised I’ve picked two of the same books as Heather above. Great minds and all that!)

    • Oh, Flowers For Algernon! What a brilliant choice. I love that book so much, I think possibly because I expected so little from the book I said was ‘just about a f**king clever mouse’ when I first read the blurb as it was chosen at an old book group. It sure showed me. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

  9. My five books? (I’m going to cheat and put in acouple of multi-volumes, but I see a precedent has already been set). I hope this is a suitabley mixed collection something (or nothing?) for everyone!

    The Feynman Lectures on Physics
    In Search of Lost Time
    Kafka on the Shore
    A new book of Middle Eastern food (C Roden)
    If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho (A Carson)

  10. Oooh interesting responses. These are mine…
    Moments of Reprieve by Primo Levi
    Germinal by Emile Zola
    Blindness by Jose Saramago
    Precious Bane by Mary Webb
    Complete works of Shakespeare

    These are not my top 5 all time favourites (although one is and others are on my essential reads list) but chosen purely because I believe they are books that everyone should have access to in a library.

    • You see I have never got Shakespeare Leah, I also owe you an apology, things have been mental and I think I have missed The Kite Runner with work being bonkers and all the Gran stuff. I will email…

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