A book day downtown

I have now been here almost a week and produced two, three blog posts. I blame jetlag and Instastories. The former because it makes me fall asleep after dinner, the latter because it gives me the illusion I’ve already shared everything there is to my adventures here.

So in order to get anything documented, I will now ignore the chronical order and start with where I am – today! Today I biked all the way to downtown all alone without getting lost once. I also did not get involve in an accident. (I became the victim of bike theft in the evening though but I will not go into it further because it ruins my mood and also my story.) As I stopped at a red light, a man called “Nice bike!” to me. When I arrived at City Hall and took photos (of the building, not of me biking), a local came to me and asked if I was a student or a tourist. (Apparently only those two ride bikes. I am also very flattered to have been asked if I was a student twice already in this city.) He asked if I was comfortably biking in L.A. to which I replied yes, an unsatisfactory answer to him. “You should really watch out. All these homeless people. This isn’t Germany, you know”. I am still trying to understand the connection between biking safety and homeless people.

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At City Hall, I went up to the Observation Deck and observed L.A. from above. On the way up there, I passed through the room highest up, a fancy gallery kind of space, where some Korean Award Ceremony was held. I liked the inscriptions on the walls about democracy, which made me think about the European elections.

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Mostly because the name sounded so nice, I went to the Angels Flight. It’s a a 117-year-old funicular and the world’s shortest railway. Upstairs you find mostly office buildings so after a short while of looking at local office workers eating lunch, I went down again to find my own lunch – at the Grand Central Market. The amount of choice in this country never ceases to amaze me and Grand Central Market was no exception. It took me more than half an hour to decide what I would get.

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They even had German food

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Test ate a bread roll. It was very acceptable.

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They send you home saying “Go with God” in Spanish.

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You could buy dried fish in bulk at the market. Why?

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I opted for Mac ‘n’ Cheese. I wasn’t aware of how not zero waste this meal would be.

For the afternoon, I had lots of plans. I was going to go on a tour of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, go shopping, see the library…I would just quickly pop into the famous “Last Bookstore” before. Turned out that bookstore is what Instagram is on a week night when you are supposed to go to bed early: you just can’t even get out of there again. The “Last Bookstore” was, however, considerably more inspiring than Instagram tends to be. It’s not only a bookstore, it’s also kind of an artsy space, a hang out and marketplace where you can sell books and buy crafts from other in-stores. I literally spent two and a half hours there and had to disclipine myself to move on. A wonderful place!

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Book tunnel

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I couldn’t resist and bought an Archie comic

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Spanish books for the kids of the pueblo

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Many beautiful and progressive children’s books

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There were some really good parenting books there. I briefly considered buying one, but neither did I want to feed any grandchild dreams nor freak out A.

Can you ever have too many books? Hmmm, yes. Which is why I love libraries. You get all these stories but you don’t need to have a huge house (or a huge budget). The L.A. Public Library has done me so much good. Emily lets me access their ebooks on my Kindle through her membership and I have been reading so much from there! Naturally, on my tourist list, the LAPL was a sight I had to see. And what can I say? It’s amazing.

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On the outside, they have quotes about reading

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The first thing you see when entering is the Short Story Dispenser. Pick how many minutes you want to read (1 or 3) and it prints you a story.

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In one of the hallways, this majestic globe is the lamp. Marvelous!

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The entrance to the children’s library is decorated by kids’ paintings and statements. “I love the library because it has books”.

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The former library catalogue is today a place for plaques with names of donors. I have noticed that there is barely anything that is not the “Dr Verna and Thomas Johnson Hall”, “The Hannah Scott Center for Dentistry” or “”Smidt Welcome Plaza”. Every little thing is named about someone who paid for it.

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In light of recent events…

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The adult fiction section is not as pretty but so abundant! I put ten new titles on my to-read-list on Goodreads!

New books on Goodreads to-read-list: Elisabeth Cohen, The Glitch; Elizabeth Noble, The Reading Group; Leah Franqui, America for Beginners;  Katie Williams, Tell the Machine Goodnight; Viet Tanh Nguyen, The Refugees; Celeste Ng, Little Fires everywhere.

Book Dating

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As I mentioned earlier, I have joined the local library. It’s a bit funny actually because I have lot of books I own that I still have to read. The DVDs they have you can only borrow for one week which gives me watching pressure. (Really, how are you supposed to watch the first seasons of “Girls” in seven days? I actually stopped after episode 5 because that series is really overrated.) So I decided I could get value for membership fee by joining one of their events. Yes, the library hosts events! The one that sounded the coolest was “Bookdating”. I’m single, I read, I figured I was the target group.

The prospect of attending the bookdating night brought me back to my bookshelf of unread books. Was I to bring one book or more? And given the fact that I haven’t read 30 % of the shelf, which books a) did I read b) didn’t have a story that by recommeding them made me look like a weirdo c) were age-appropriate? It’s not that easy. You don’t want to appear like a besserwisser by taking a non-fiction book with you (“Look at me, I only read about the politics of English queens through the centuries”), you don’t want to appear overly naive-romantic by showing up with a diary novel of a 14-year-old that starts with contemplations on cleavage (“Hello, I’m superficial and stuck in my teens, waiting for the knight on the white horse”) or a comic book about the struggle of living in a dictatorship (“Good evening, I deeply care about democracy but not so much as to bring myself to reading something more challenging than a picture book”).

Yeah, you guessed it, I brought Désirée, Persepolis and England’s Queens.

The group made of was not ideal for dating: two men, five women and everyone except me and my company was out of my dating league age-wise. But that’s not what bookdating is about anyway. It’s more about dating the actual book. Just like with speeddating, you meet a new person (and, unlike speeddating, their books) every five minutes. That way, you gather lots of reading recommendations as every new person explains to you why the book they have brought is totally worth reading. And the best part of it is that the library has these books (or will buy them), so you don’t even have to wreck your wallet to put the tips into action. And who knows, maybe one day you end up at a table with a person who brought the same book as you? Then you know: that’s love.

Library Love

The impressive Stockholm Central Library (Photo Simon Paulin/imagebank sweden)

The impressive Stockholm Central Library (Photo Simon Paulin/imagebank sweden)

Remember how I suffered from the excruciating heat during my first weeks in Dizzel? Well, it seems that this town only offers two kinds of weather: burning heat or pouring rain. In the last week, I came home rain-drenched twice. And when I say rain-drenched, I mean completely wet to the bone.

Raininess does add to the mysfaktor/Gemütlichkeitsfaktor though – if you’re inside with a lit candle and a hot cup of tea. And – yes, a good book. Yesterday, I registered at the public library.

Libraries and me have history. We go way back. Some of my very first memories is the children’s section at Heidelberg’s public library. There was a dragon of some sort and a kind of reading arena (do I remember this correctly, mom?) and it was wonderful there.

Actually, I’ve gone through various public libaries in my life. In the small village where I went to primary school, I read through all the shelves. (They were rather limited numbers of shelves, to be fair.) In the small town we moved next, I was a frequent visitor in both the school library (with great enthusiasm, I read all of “Malory Towers” (“Dolly” in German) and “St Clare’s” (“Hanni und Nanni”) and we reenacted their Midnight Parties) and the so-called Catholic library (where the biography of a terrorist made the biggest impression on me).

Düsseldorf Library

Düsseldorf Library

As I moved to Bremen to study, I got to enjoy a large and most beautifully designed library. When my mom came to visit, we would plan spending an afternoon there, leaving with heaps of books. After relocating to Stockholm, I devoured all the Swedish literature I could finally access so easily. The Stockholm Central Library is a piece of architecural art, and the branches in the parts of the city are so many that it was never more than 10 minutes to walk to a library. They even have a library in the subway – so convenient! There, you could take “literature to go” with you in a paper bag that had “crime” or “love” written on it and preselected books in it.

Graduation Day, me in front of the Carolina Rediviva

Graduation Day, me in front of the Carolina Rediviva

In Uppsala, the dignified National and University Library Carolina Rediviva became my second home and I wrote my entire thesis in the cozy Karin Boye Library. Each Monday night, I would go to the local public library close to my student dorm and meet Janne and Britt, two eldery Swedes, who would practice language skills with me. The concept is called MedsprÃ¥k and the library kindly hosted it. (I also took the opportunity to borrow a children’s book series on Queen Kristina there.)

Only in Hamburg, I never set foot into the library. In retrospective, this worries me because I kind of believe in the (allegedly Chinese) saying, “After three day without reading, one’s speech becomes tasteless.” I hope no one was bothered by my potentially tasteless speech.

So yesterday I took the important step to register at the Düsseldorf Library. It is squeezed between the main railway station, some weird sculptures, and the Consulate of Greece. I had very little time (and actually the last book of Moberg’s distinguished “Emigrants” series left to finish) but I remembered hearing recommendations about Donna Tartt who only publishes one book per decade and blows the critics away every time.

So now it’s me, the rain and “The little friend” for October.