Book Dating


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.