My university library was/is awesome. Browsing shelves without a time limit was my go-to reward for surviving exams.
I occasionally took pictures of books (back then I had no interest of keeping track of all of the books I read; I only wanted to put their words into my brain). Anyway, I found a handful of these pictures last night, which reminded me of this.
Here they are!
I especially enjoyed digging up books about writing and literature from the 1970s or earlier because they offered insights influenced by the world at the time. I used to hang out in an aisle and pick up one book after another to read either the first page, the forward, or the preface. Then I would either put a book back or borrow it.
For example, I remember reading the preface of a 4″x 6″ green hardback once. It was a cute, plain little book. The indentations were crazy deep on stiff pages with words that looked like they were made by a typewriter. A line toward the end of the preface mentioned literature in relation to the uncertainty of the ominous nuclear threat from abroad.
When I came across that preface back in 2017, North Korea had been all over the news about missile tests and, reading it, it felt bizarrely relevant, as if the author and I were reflecting on current events. But that wasn’t possible because it was an older book, so I checked the publication date and damn the author was writing from the thick of the Cold War. The author concluded with something optimistic about the future of humanity through the power of literature. At the time, I was glad I didn’t have to be the one to tell him what 2017 looked like.
You know, the mind who wrote those hopeful words is technically frozen in time on the page and can never be aware of what happens beyond the point of publication (talk about dramatic irony), and that ideas was weirdly comforting. That sunny viewpoint can be preserved. Will never know about the last 50 years (sheesh, the first ten months of 2020 alone would probably break his heart).
I miss my university library! All those lonely books, 250 miles away, in Miami, FL. C’est la vie.