Monday, August 12, 2013

Magic Portals

The other day I was speaking to a friend about British TV versus the available offerings of American TV, and she mentioned the grittiness and reality of many British shows, versus the shiny prettiness of both the actors and the plots that get nicely tied up in 44 minutes on American shows. I think there’s a corollary to that idea of reality and normality – it all seems so much more relatable because they are people like me. They’re not extraordinarily beautiful or someone I expect to see on the pages of a glamour/fashion magazine. They have flaws just like people SHOULD have flaws, because not everyone fits into the Golden Ratio category. I know I don’t, so it’s perhaps nepotistic of me to like someone more due their simple ordinary-iness. Whatever it is, I like it better. Except for the teeth. I know it’s a stereotype that the British have bad teeth, but I count it among my blessings that for all my British heritage, I have rather nice teeth. Now if I could only overcome my ancestors’ genetic lack of pigmentation.

Speaking of British things, the background on my work computer right now is scenes from Ireland. Among pictures of sweeping sheep-filled pastures and old ruins and castles, one of the pictures that comes up is this beautiful library:

I figured out (once I finally decided to look it up) that it’s the Long Room at Trinity College in Dublin. Then I saw this website that has gorgeous pictures of other European libraries and I said, “I want to go to there,” only not really, because the point of libraries is to be able to enjoy the books, and as beautiful as they all are, I imagine I would only truly enjoy the function of the ones where the majority of the books are in English. Although to be fair, if someone handed me a ticket and said, “Here, go see these libraries,” who am I to turn that down? I’ll brush up on my German, French and Latin to make that worth my while.

I’m thinking of libraries because I saw this article today about the best fictional libraries. I don’t necessarily agree with all of them on the list, because they’re either references I don’t know, or they’re ones I do know but I never thought, “Yes, please” the first time I saw them. The Sunnydale library is one I wouldn’t mind having access to, but imagine that I’d need more training than just the basic Dewey Decimal system to find my way around. And of course I like the Beast’s library. Rather, I like the idea of the Beast’s library, but in execution, none of those books seem real. Even the depiction of it in the Animation studio in California Adventure seems a bit too cartoon-y. Not included in the list, the library from Warehouse 13. Perhaps it’s not technically a library? The Jedi library, definitely please. Which then brings us back full circle to the Trinity College library, which is immediately what I thought of when I saw the Jedi one, even without the link to it in the article.

One of my fondest memories of my childhood is my neighborhood library. My sister and I would ride our bikes to the library every couple of days during the summer. We were allowed two books each at a time, which seemed like such a bogus rule, but I totally understand now that my parents didn’t want to be responsible for lost/overdue fees, and two seemed like a manageable amount. But it meant that many more bike trips to the library. My parents – evil geniuses – making us get exercise of both the physical and mental variety during our summer vacations. Bonus - the library was air-conditioned.  Sometimes we even got to stop at the Greyhound station on the way back for a soft-serve ice cream cone. I miss the simplicity of those days – how easy it was to be content with some frozen milk and good reading material.

Fictional or real, architecturally stunning or just a little local branch, I think all libraries are magical. It’s like walking into a room with countless portals to other worlds. You can travel to anywhen, anyplace just by immersing yourself in the pages of magic traveling machine. Hyperloops be damned – give me a good book any day.

But I’ll still take that hypothetical ticket if it gets offered.

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