Good Reading : August 2011
GOOD READING AUGUST 2011 19 BOOK CITY open until 31 December 2011, the library is making it even easier to be inquisitive as they display 250 of their rarest and most intr iguing items in an exhibition called ‘Celebrating 100 Years’. Ms Dempsey strides into the famous 800-seat Rose Main Reading Room as she lists off some of the artefacts that will be on display. ‘There’ll be Charles Dickens’s letter opener, Jack Kerouac’s glasses and ... ’ her voice drops to a whisper as she stands under the glow of 18 neoclassical chandeliers, ‘the walking stick Virginia Woolf left on the riverbank before taking her own life.’ These treasures have been painstakingly collected as part of the library’s philosophy of securing the memory of humankind. Around the corner on 42nd Street publishing executives stand in the window of D’espresso, a bus stop-sized café – no filtered coffee here. Their grey suits blend into the distinctive monochrome wallpaper that depicts a book-filled study flipped on its side. The photographic images cover not only the walls but also the floor and ceiling, giving the shop a modern ‘Alice in Wonderland’ vibe. Owner Eugene Kagansky, 28, explains the decor. ‘The concept of my café is to promote the whole lifestyle of reading. I want to encourage people to read books, not just iPads.’ One location where the e-reader vs book fight can be witnessed firsthand is in the subway system.View the spectacle from the platforms of Grand Central Station, where enor mous arched windows soar to a turquoise celestial canopy. Off to one side is Posman Books. It’s a mom-and-pop store, where salesman Richard Wagner observes, ‘We see the same people day after day.’ Wagner points out their substantial fiction section. ‘Digital is certainly becoming popular. But nothing beats a thick novel on a long ride.’ Before leaving, be sure to check out Frank Warren’s book PostSecret. It’s a record of his ongoing community art project in which people wr ite their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard and send them in. Secrets revealed include: ‘I tell people I’m Library Hotel guests enjoy complimentary wine and cheese every afternoon in the Reading Room. Bronze quotation plaques line the streets of Library Way. Actors often spend their days off reading at the Drama Book Shop.