Libraries are one of the oldest institutions our collective dreams have shaped. Every book lover dreams of having his or her own library one day. This desire to share and flaunt one’s painstakingly built reading history coupled with the longing to meet with other like-minded souls who love the same books, has led to the creation of many libraries, albeit invisible.
Our Book of the Week, ‘Invisible Libraries’ (2016, Yoda Press) is a beautiful little book that fits snugly in your hands. It is a collection of libraries, libraries of ideas, libraries of people and things, that should exist. From the library where ‘reading for pleasure’ is of the utmost importance to one where only the oral storytelling tradition exists; a library where the reader will feel each book is just meant for him and only him, and in another library each time you read a book, it is a fresh, new reading. Memories formed, connections felt, mean nothing in this library.
A bibliophile will love the fantasy-like concepts in the short chapters. The succinct writings pack an entire universe of wonder and longing.You will wish for at least one such ‘invisible library’ to exist. Writers Lawrence Liang, Monica James, Danish Sheikh, Amy Trautwein take inspiration from Italo Calvino’s ‘Invisible Cities’,they indirectly refer to the concepts of Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges, intersperse their imagination with his thoughts and life happenings.
The end result is a book which is entertainingly absurd, gives commentary on world politics, chides people who believe books are a waste of time and talks to you in an intimate way. ‘Invisible Libraries’ feels like a conversation with profound meaning. You can’t just dive into this one, you have to walk in, feel your way through the shelves, letting your fingers brush past invisible stories.