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Love Letters to Libraries - Livres du Mois




In February's Livres du Mois we explore Love Letters to Libraries. From the history of libraries across the world to the architecture of libraries and the deep love of books themselves, this selection of books is for those who covet the job of bookseller (or secretly wish they were a librarian.) We start with the Booksellers Tale, which "If ferreting through bookshops is your idea of heaven, you'll get the same pleasure from this treasure trove of a book."



 



The Booksellers Tale

by

Martin Latham



"The right book has a neverendingness, and so does the right bookshop."



This is the story of our love affair with books, whether we arrange them on our shelves, inhale their smell, scrawl in their margins or just curl up with them in bed. Taking us on a journey through comfort reads, street book stalls, mythical libraries, itinerant pedlars, radical pamphleteers, extraordinary bookshop customers and fanatical collectors, Canterbury bookseller Martin Latham uncovers the curious history of our book obsession - and his own.



"A history and celebration of all things bookish... This is a book that celebrates stories, scribbling in margins and the collecting, cherishing and even kissing of books - something done with surprising frequency, apparently... Those who enjoy browsing in paper-scented bookshops, run by eccentric old storytellers with yarns to spare, will come away with something unexpected, reassuring and possibly worth a kiss."



Part cultural history, part literary love letter and part reluctant memoir, this is the tale of one bookseller and many, many books.



 



The Library at Night

by

Alberto Manguel




Inspired by the process of creating a library for his fifteenth-century home near the Loire in France, Alberto Manguel, the acclaimed writer on books and reading, has taken up the subject of libraries. 'Libraries', he says, 'have always seemed to me pleasantly mad places, and for as long as I can remember I've been seduced by their labyrinthine logic'.



In this personal, deliberately unsystematic, and wide-ranging book, he offers a captivating meditation on the meaning of libraries. Manguel, a guide of irrepressible enthusiasm, conducts a unique library tour that extends from his childhood bookshelves to the 'complete' libraries of the Internet, from Ancient Egypt and Greece to the Arab world, from China and Rome to Google. He ponders the doomed library of Alexandria as well as the personal libraries of Charles Dickens, Jorge Luis Borges, and others.



He recounts stories of people who have struggled against tyranny to preserve freedom of thought - the Polish librarian who smuggled books to safety as the Nazis began their destruction of Jewish libraries, the Afghani bookseller who kept his store open through decades of unrest. Oral 'memory libraries' kept alive by prisoners, libraries of banned books, the imaginary library of Count Dracula, the library of books never written - Manguel illuminates the mysteries of libraries as no other writer could. With scores of wonderful images throughout, 'The Library at Night' is a fascinating voyage through Manguel's mind, memory, and vast knowledge of books and civilizations.




 



The World's Most Beautiful Libraries

by

Massimo Listri




From the mighty halls of ancient Alexandria to a camel bookmobile on the Kenyan-Somali border, human beings have had a long, enraptured relationship with libraries. Like no other concept and like no other space, the collection of knowledge, learning, and imagination offers a sense of infinite possibility. It's the unrivaled realm of discovery, where every faded manuscript or mighty clothbound tome might reveal a provocative new idea, a far-flung fantasy, an ancient belief, a religious conviction, or a whole new way of being in the world.



In this new photographic journey, Italian photographer Massimo Listri travels to some of the oldest and finest libraries to reveal their architectural, historical, and imaginative wonder. Through great wooden doors, up spiralling staircases, and along exquisite, shelf-lined corridors, he leads us through outstanding private, public, educational, and monastic libraries, dating as far back as 766.



 



Library: An Unquiet History

by

Matthew Battles




"Gifted and eloquent, Battles has written a pertinent book, full of insight and humanity."



Through the ages, libraries have not only accumulated and preserved but also shaped, inspired, and obliterated knowledge. Now they are in crisis. Former rare books librarian and Harvard MetaLAB visionary Matthew Battles takes us from Boston to Baghdad, from classical scriptoria to medieval monasteries and on to the Information Age, to explore how libraries are built and how they are destroyed: from the scroll burnings in ancient China to the burning of libraries in Europe and Bosnia to the latest revolutionary upheavals of the digital age. A new epilogue elucidates the preservation of knowledge amid the creative destruction of twenty-first century technology.



 



The Madman's Library

by

Edward Brooke-Hitching




"An utterly joyous journey into the deepest eccentricities of the human mind..."



The strangest books, manuscripts and other literary curiosities from history. This is a madman’s library of eccentric and extraordinary volumes from around the world, many of which have been completely forgotten. Books written in blood and books that kill, books of the insane and books that hoaxed the globe, books invisible to the naked eye and books so long they could destroy the Universe, books worn into battle, books of code and cypher whose secrets remain undiscovered… and a few others that are just plain weird.



 


I hope you have discovered a book to have a lover affair with among this selection but if not then you may find something more to your taste in the Compendium's Library.