I'm practicing a little fiscal restraint this summer, so instead of buying a ton of books from Amazon, i've happily reacquainted myself with that marvelous institution, the Chicago Public Library. Usually i'm too lazy to go any further than my local branch, but today i treated myself with a trip to the main branch, the Harold Washington Library Center on State Street. Although the building is loved by some and hated by others, it certainly is bold. To me, the architecture seems like something out of a Tim Burton movie, and i mean that in a good way. It's wild, fanciful, oversized, and kind of wonderful. That being said, i'm not going to give you a picture of the exterior of the building. If you've never been there, you can click here to see what it looks like.
One of the things that i really admire about this building (aside from all those glorious books) is the richness of the materials used in the interior. Maybe it's because i work in a building that is constructed so shoddily that i expect it to come crashing down around me at any moment, but i've really gained an appreciation for the quality and craftsmanship that went into the library. I find myself running my hands over the marble wainscoting and warm, honey-colored, wood paneling. I have a special fondness for the escalators shown here. I can't recall ever seeing this pattern of two short escalators between each floor used anywhere else; somehow it makes them seem friendlier, less mechanical.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, i managed to stop fondling the woodwork long enough to find a few good books while i was there. Of the three books i hoped to borrow today, i only found one on the shelves: In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson, which i'm hoping is better than Devil in the White City (Yes, i know, you loved it, and so did everyone else, with the exception of myself and one charmingly cantankerous librarian whom i spoke to today; but i thought it was poorly written and annoying). I was hoping to find a copy of 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, but no dice; so i picked up a copy of Kafka on the Shore by the same author instead. I also got a copy of Chair of Tears by Gerald Vizenor and Steampunk II, an anthology edited by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer, because it just happened to catch my eye. I will now curl up in my chair and read eclectically for the next few weeks.