Critical Linking: January 17, 2015

Because of their critical importance, libraries were often built to be beautiful and built to last. Combined with the sometimes priceless treasures that they hold, their simultaneously enormous and intimate spaces possess a charm that no other type of building can command.

I could do without the inane first paragraph about libraries losing importance, but this round-up of beautiful libraries is drool-worthy.


January 18th marks not only the birthday of celebrated English author A.A. Milne, but also—by no coincidence—Winnie The Pooh Day, a holiday intended to celebrate the eponymous bear and his creator. To pay tribute to both Milne and his lovable bear, we’ve compiled a collection of incredible facts that even the most dedicated visitor to the Hundred Acre Wood might not know. 

I didn’t know any of these things about Winnie The Pooh. #5 might be my favorite, as a former Latin student.


No fancy introduction for this straight-to-the-point quiz: which author would write your life story?


Nalini’s day begins at five every morning with a glass of water, the chanting of Sanskrit mantras and some calisthenics that stretch her bookseller wingspan. Then she settles down to read, often juggling five books at a time. “There’s an instinct I’ve honed,” says Nalini, “I just know whether a new book will work or not. I was pushing Midnight’s Children long before the Booker made it famous. It’s a sixth sense.” She also scours Indian newspapers for book reviews, and a friend prints her out reviews from international newspapers for she doesn’t use a computer. And then begin her round of calls to Delhi publishers for fresh orders, and another round of calls to her regulars, to let each know of the latest find that’s arrived in their oeuvre of interest. Until last year she used a dial-up with scores of numbers stored in her head; she’s a recent convert to a keypad mobile. For the customers turning up that day, Nalini packs all they’ve asked for into separate plastic covers, and heads to Connemara in a rickshaw. “I’m famous in the tuk-tuk circles,” she giggles, “If any of them act funny, I’ve bags of books to knock them with!”

A neat profile of Nalini Chettur, a bookseller in Chennai, India (how often do you hear the stories behind foreign bookstores?).


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