Needless to say, I love books and everything related to them: libraries, antique book shops, hard copy books, kindle, my iBooks. I always walk out of a book shop with at least one book and this tends to become a problem because I overestimate the time I have for reading and I end up with piles of unread (some only started) books on my nightstand. But I just can’t help myself. I get that feeling that some might get about shoes or about gadgets: I need to have them all, read them all and emerge into their wonderful world, dream with my eyes wide open and fell as the characters do.
And I felt this ever since I was little when I had a favorite library on the corner where my grandparents used to live. We used to stop by every time we were returning from somewhere, be it a walk in the park or the weekend grocery shopping. If I close my eyes now I can still feel the smell of this little crowded place. A small room, with rows of shelves filled with new books, with their shiny covers staring me straight in the face, begging me to buy them, promising me a glimpse at a new different and exciting world.
I have few passions in life that have lasted so long and have remained so vivid and true, and apart from traveling, books are the other most important thing.
In my mind, I link places to books and books to places. Like for example Pamuk’s “My name is Red” with the beautiful cover I found in a book antique shop in London some years ago and decided I need to have bought it though it was really big and heavy and I only had a hand luggage. Or Hanif Kureishi’s “The Buddha of Suburbia” the novel I lived with during my relaxing holiday on Corfu’s beach.
“Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe helped me understand better African culture and history, during my vacation in Tanzania and Zanzibar, while “Eat, Pray, Love” is the book I carried around Rome during my stay there…yes, in Italian. “The Dalai Lama’s Cat” I had with me while I waited for my friend’s flight to land in Rome or Mukesh Kapila’s biography about Darfur I forgot in the plane getting back from Vietnam and had to buy once more because I had to finish it.
And then there are all the books I carried home with me when getting back from my Erasmus in Italy. I had one big luggage that I could not move by myself because everything I had stuffed in there, especially books. There were books I had read before but I wanted to have also in Italian, books I was introduced to while there and books I was planning to read. Every time I went back to Italy, I made sure to make time to buy at least a new one, add it to my shelve of “international conquests”.
Also related, there are the places that facilitate my access to them and if you ever find yourself in Bucharest and are as fascinated as I am, don’t miss out this incredible place. You won’t regret it, I promise! The worst part is that you will waste a lot of time getting lost on the shelves and taking pictures, like all of us.