On Friday, we all feel the need for a bit of peace and mental nourishment. The ravages of the week have taken their toll and the weekend stretches ahead filled with empty hours and good intentions. Perhaps it is these thoughts of intellectual refurbishment – natural as January has passed and New Years resolutions have faded in the face of the never ending chill – that has made this dusky view of the Public Library of Cincinnati so popular on AnOther Loves.
Chosen by the Dazed & Confused's editorial assistant Nathalie Olah, this is a library of fairytales – far from the more prosaic reality that is the customary experience of public libraries, which is generally less about floor to ceiling windows looking over towering stacks of bookshelves, and more centred around piles of dogeared Steig Larsson and Rosamund Pilcher upholstered in various shades of beige. Yet in cinema, the library is a place of discovery, enlightenment and romance. From Belle swooping round the stacks in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Holly Golightly, in vast tortoiseshell Manhattans, breaking Paul’s heart over a pile of books on Brazil, being shhh’d all the while, to John Hughes’ dissonant group of teenagers forging unexpected bonds over the course of a Saturday of library based detention – Hollywood has cemented the notion of library romance, a notion that is only confirmed by the sight of libraries as beautiful as this. And surely if there were more like this, they would not be at such great risk of being shut down.
"Hollywood has cemented the notion of library romance, a notion that is only confirmed by the sight of libraries as beautiful as this"
Here, in between dreaming of all the first editions we could find in Cincinnati and in celebration of World Book Day next week, we discuss Olah’s literary idols and past adventures in the Eastern Medicine aisle.
Why did you choose to love the library?
One of my favourite short stories is The Library of Babel by Borges, about a never ending library. A French printmaker called Erik Desmazieres illustrated it and this photo looks like it could have come from that series. It's unbelievable.
Where is your favourite library?
Probably the Keats library in Hampstead, which my friend and short story writer Wolfboy showed me around the other day. It has a beautiful glass dome ceiling.
Which three books would you take to a desert island?
The Collected works of Yeats, Herzog by Saul Bellow and probably a self-help book to stop me losing my marbles.
Who is your literary style icon - which character from a book?
I like Ramona Donsell from Herzog. She's strong-minded, beautiful and totally erotic. She loves in a big way and it is always shown in the way she presents herself.
Libraries - should they be places of reverent silence, have the potential for debate, or be an exciting locale for misdeeds… or all three?
You mean making out in the Eastern Medicine aisle? Why not. I love working in libraries and I love going to talks and discussions too. Libraries are sacred and we should all be doing whatever we can to save them.
What was the last thing you bought?
A couscous and beetroot salad from Waitrose. It was all right.
What are you looking forward to about March?
Getting out of town more, having dinner with my friend Tish and going to see Caesar Must Die.