We love libraries because they are home to books. And when said books are also home to libraries? Well, that’s even better!
Libraries turn up as settings, even as characters themselves, in works of art more often than you would think. To celebrate these monumental book collections we have rounded up, in no particular order, our top eight favourite libraries found in legendary pieces of literature.
1) Hogwarts Library
Work: The Harry Potter series
Author: J.K. Rowling
Significance: An obvious addition to this list, Hogwarts Library is home to tens of thousands of books, including the pivotal Secrets of the Darkest Arts and Moste Potente Potions.
2) Lucien’s Library
Work: Sandman series
Author: Neil Gaiman
Significance: If you have ever thought of a book that would be great to read, but don’t want to actually write it, then the library at the Castle in the centre of the Dreaming is the one for you. Overseen by the librarian Lucien, this library is home to all the books dreamed up but unwritten.
3) The Library of Babel
Work: The Library of Babel
Author: Jorge Luis Borges
Significance: We mentioned that a library could be a setting or even a character, but in the case of Borges’ classic short story, the library is the entire universe!
4) The Camel Bookmobile
Work: The Camel Bookmobile
Author: Masha Hamilton
Significance: A library on wheels, the Camel Bookmobile represents the good, but uninformed, intentions of Westerner Fiona Sweeney as she seeks to bring classic literature to impoverished people in small northeastern Kenyan communities.
5) The Aedificium Library
Work: The Name of the Rose
Author: Umberto Eco
Significance: The entire mystery of the novel, Eco’s debut, revolves around the labyrinthine abbey library at an Italian monastery.
6) Shawshank Prison Library
Work: Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption
Author: Stephen King
Significance: It is the library at Shawshank that offers Andy Dufresne joy and a chance to escape the harsh realities of prison life, but ironically also the reason why his imprisonment continues.
7) The Cemetery of Forgotten Books
Work: The Shadow of the Wind
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Significance: In this bestselling novel, it is the protagonist’s visit to the library that acts as a catalyst for the story’s events. As a young boy, Daniel Sempere is initiated into this library, meaning he is allowed to select one forgotten book and must protect it for life.
8) Living Libraries
Work: Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
Significance: A special mention for actually being living, breathing characters, the libraries in Fahrenheit 451’s dystopian post-literature society are humans who have memorised written works in order to keep the spirit of the book alive.
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