Did you know that we have fantastic, monster-sized books that you can check out to take home and admire? This is not the technical name for the books, in fact, we tend to call them ‘oversize’ books around here because they don’t fit on the regular shelves very easily. We actually put them on special shelves that you can browse when you are in the mood to look at spectacular books like these – convenient! These books are gorgeous works of art and can feature a wide range of topics, like worldwide travel in Destinations of a Lifetime, lavish photographs and recipes in Thai Street Food: Authentic Recipes, Vibrant Traditions or contain amazing photographs of the galaxy in Cosmos. Don’t forget we also have an amazing assortment of huge atlases that you can take home to spend some time with when you are planning your next adventure or just reminiscing about one from the past. These books are beautiful ways to connect with the world, using your library card.
In the old days we would call this kind of book a coffee table book because people would leave them scattered about on their coffee tables so that when someone would visit their home would look extra impressive. I do know, from the world of Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram, that decorating with books has become a sensitive topic lately. Many, many librarians and bibliophiles that I follow online took to picking on poor ‘Lauren’ because of an image that circulated indicating that ‘she’ shelved her books with the spines facing inwards. This, naturally, would make it very hard to find the book anyone wanted on a shelf, but it seems it had a uniform look that suited her decor. Well, people were not kind to Lauren online and the hashtag of #backwardsbooks was born and I spent a fair bit of time looking at the funny comments and articles. Here is the original image of ‘Lauren’s shelves that I scooped from someone I follow on Twitter. I don’t think she would be able to find anything in a hurry.
I just purchased a wonderful new coffee table book after being swept away by one we have in the collection here at work. Actually, it isn’t the first time I’ve fallen for a book on this topic or even the first time I’ve written a blog post about the topic either, because my beautiful oversized book is about Barack Obama. Other books I have loved about him include his own – Dreams from My Father: A story of race and inheritance (I loved hearing about his early years as a community organizer) – one from his former deputy chief of staff Alyssa Mastromonaco called Who thought this was a good idea? : And other questions you should have answers to when you work at the White House and Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years which was written by a chief speech writer who never truly won me over but I did find his behind-the-scenes access riveting. So, why would I break down and actually purchase a book when I can just take one from the shelves of this grand public institution whenever I like (well, as long as the book isn’t currently checked out by another customer)? Well, Obama: An Intimate Portrait is, page after page, an inspiring look at eight years of moments that inspired and changed the world. The author, Pete Souza, was the official White House photographer and had access to every moment of this incredible presidency. He was present for each of the hills and valleys that Obama, his staff and family were living through. It’s a time capsule his time in office – of the situation room, the Rose garden, the Oval office, landmark meetings with international leaders – but it is also filled with personal moments and small kindnesses. When we had the library’s copy at home we would pore over each page and look at it like a photo album (which is really what it is) with lovely captions written by a man who was there, by Obama’s side, every day. We would say things like “I remember this!” or “Hey, come look at this one!” and then look at the photographs together. So, I think it’s worth spending the money to have this book on our coffee table because as decorative as it may be it is also inspiring and extraordinary. You can be sure that we won’t be displaying it with the spine facing in.