Checking the Listings

For 30p a time, the library will allow me to order books in, if they have them anywhere in stock.  This has led me to trawl my Amazon wish list for a number of the books  – I couldn’t very well look to claim all 800 or so – that I haven’t been able to source at bookshops.  I am hoping to be able to get some of these within the next few months. It’s cheaper than a second hand bookshop and keeps the service afloat so all is good, and a worthwhile investment.

  • Cubs Ahoy – Stephen Andrews
  • The Blazing World – J.G. Ballard
  • Zugzwang – Ronan Bennett
  • Alone – Richard E. Byrd
  • The Hero with a Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell
  • Under Plum Lake – Lionel Davidson
  • A Journey Around my Room – Xavier de Maistre
  • In the Sargasso Sea – Thomas A. Janvier
  • Bevis – Richard Jefferies
  • Zorba the Greek – Nikos Kazantzakis

Continue reading “Checking the Listings”

The Library Book

Whether brand new or steeped in history, real or imagined, libraries feature in everyone’s lives.  In memoirs, essays and stories that are funny, moving, visionary or insightful, twenty-three famous writers celebrate these places where minds open and the world expands.

Public libraries are lifelines, to practical information as well as to the imagination, but funding is under threat all over the country.  This book is published in support of libraries, with all royalties going to The Reading Agency’s library programmes.

Fetishes, a (natural) death, streakers, and the occasional ram raid by an old lady on a mobility scooter, libraries can sometimes be dramatic places to work, although in the main, peaceful citadels of book worship.  The Library Book, is a celebration of our best free institution, long may it continue.

As books of this nature usually are, this tome ends up being a mixed bag, my favourite essays were the personal reminiscences of libraries from writers such as, Susan Hill, Stephen Fry, Hardeep Singh Kohli, and Val McDermid, to name a few. Even so, many of these memories take on a similar vein and as such are probably best enjoyed over a lengthier time than the two days in which I flew through this book.

The insights featured are mainly focused on British libraries, which makes it as much of a nostalgia trip, as it is a quirky insight into our national character. There are plenty of interesting facts on offer too, for example, during World War Two, a disused tube station in Bethnal Green was turned into a library during the blitz so people could distract themselves with a good book.  Perhaps surprisingly the readers were most interested in Plato’s Republic, Burton’s the Anatomy of Melancholy, as well as Schopenhauer, Bunyan, and Bertrand Russell. Continue reading “The Library Book”

House About That!

At last we have the internet connected!

Having moved house this time last week (not the one above, which is our holiday home, Hardwick Hall), its been a torrid time with the usual accompanying stress and chaos.

The most important thing to do has been to order the books, this was achieved by placing them in a haphazard arrangement, as I rather enjoy browsing through the collection these days, rather than going straight to where I know a particular title will be.

Next up has been to explore the local library, which is adequate, and to sample the closest Chinese takeaway. They made a decent effort but it wasn’t overly impressive, except for the reusable containers. Continue reading “House About That!”

Library Lives

The day after I gathered my previous library pile (see last post), I went to my other local library to have a look at their collection.  The last time I visited was probably sometime during the late 80’s.  A lot had changed, the main theme – as across all libraries – being more space to manoeuvrer, and sadly as a consequence, less book choice.

It’s still incredible value to be able to take out mountains of literature with no cost whatsoever, and although many libraries have closed or at best contracted in recent years, I find myself extremely lucky to be able to source such quality books whenever I wish.

I took a punt on the books left and right (above), as I hadn’t heard of either but wanted to bulk out my pile.  When it came to the Barnes offering, again an author I haven’t read before but one I was at least aware of and have seen several bloggers cover before. Continue reading “Library Lives”

Library Life

The last time I took books out of the library they had those slips in a special pocket inside the front cover where the date of each time the book was taken out could be seen, and frequently was smudged with the ink of the stamp.  A lot has changed since then but my quest for free books remains undiminished.

These days I can have twenty-four books in my possession at any one time, and keep them for a month.  There will be lots more benefits to discover when I get around to it such as ordering specific books from other libraries and other things no doubt, but at the moment I am happy with my first haul, which over two days (and two libraries) came to thirteen books, six of which are in this post.

Although I was surprised not to find more books by staple authors like Charles Dickens, Patrick White, and Jules Verne – all of which I had a hankering to read – and also finding the history sections almost entirely focused on British history, there was nonetheless a good selection to be explored. Continue reading “Library Life”

More Bromley House Library

Whilst touring the library’s several floors, it was wonderful to see plenty of cosy reading nooks and comfy chairs (as well as the day’s papers) which had me in mind of one of the old Gentlemen’s clubs frequented by Sherlock Holmes or Bertie Wooster.

Pottering around we were told that Bromley House has one of only four meridian lines in England and for some reason I straddled it as if I was in two different time zones.  Serious amounts of books will make me do odd things, although in the olden days Nottingham would have been 4 minutes and 33 seconds behind Greenwich.

The history section is one of the most fascinating as the books are classified in the order received, so wandering around the piles I found some amusing shelf mates such as Stalin next to Gandhi and Florence Nightingale sat next to…Lucretia Borgia!  It was also great to see the British Sundial Society Library housed here too, which is certainly something I would love to go back to and discover. Continue reading “More Bromley House Library”

Bromley House Library

After finishing The Secret Library: A Book-Lovers’ Journey Through Curiosities of History, I idly typed into my search engine of choice, ‘secret library Nottingham’ and was surprised by actually finding one. Bromley House Library is smack bang in the centre of town, its unassuming doorway sandwiched between a charity shop and a newsagent.  It was very much like finding the Book Cemetery in Barcelona á la The Shadow of the Wind.

Arriving for my tour – which can be taken every Wednesday at 2:30pm for the excellent price of £2 – this is the scene that first greets the visitor, from there I knew it was going to be a book lovers dream to wander around in.  I later found out that that staircase is only supported at top and bottom so only one person can ascend or descend at a time.

This magnificent old building, built in 1752 has held the library since 1822, the library was in fact established earlier, in 1816 and has now amassed around 40,000 books, including local author (with a truly awesome last name) Alan Sillitoe’s own personal library (not pictured to due to my shaky hands phone camera work that rendered most of my photos a shocking mess) and the oldest book is Dante’s Opera held, dating from 1578.

Due to Bromley House being a grade II listed building, a lot of original features are still to be seen dotted around the place which makes the feeling of history and the real library reading experience feel more real.  I fell in love with this place as soon as I entered and wandering around the building I saw so much, more of which in an upcoming post.

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