Monday, 16 January 2012

Words Words Words: The Selfridges Library

Last Thursday in the exhibition room on the ground floor of Selfridges what has to be my favourite use for the room yet opened: Selfridges' Library, a pretty rad pop up library which proves to be a quiet and calm oasis from the busy bustle of Oxford Street where you sadly can't borrow the books, but you can either buy them or just pick them off of the shelves and curl up in one of the chairs or sofas and read for however long you want. 
The library will also be running a series of literary themed events over the next two months. You can view the full schedule for them here. I'd love to attend some of their handwriting analysis sessions and their poetry readings.
There are not as many novels in the library as there are plays, poetry books and table books because they did not think many people would want to sit there and read an entire novel, and I found it nice to just sit down and read a poetry book for a change. 
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Selfridges had asked celebrities about their favourite books and put them on display. It was fascinating, and sometimes really supprising to see what public figures enjoy reading. 
It was fun and actually rather interesting to have a play around on some of the vintage typewriters they had put out for visitors to enjoy. As someone who is very used to typing on my Mac Book, I have a great admiration for novelists who produced great works on the things - they are very difficult to type on! 
Their poetry selection is brilliant, and I guarantee you that even if you've never read poetry before or enjoyed it before there will be something for you there. The Selfridges staff acting as 'librarians' in the library are friendly, really great to chat to and really knowledgeable. If you are not sure what to read, ask them to pick something out for you! I spent a great deal of time chatting to the guy there about books, libraries, Caitlin Moran and the relationship between literature and technology. I could tell that he really enjoyed being assigned to the library.

They also have quite a few drama books on display, but they all happen to be by Samuel Beckett. If you are not familiar with his work, I suggest you dip into a copy of Waiting For Godot - you'll be in for a surprise!
I found the Story Chair really fun. It was the first thing in the library that I explored. Relax back in the chair and put on the headphones, then press one of the buttons and sit back to enjoy either the first sentence, the first paragraph, the first page or the first chapter of a great literary classic. I found myself mouthing along with some of the famous openings of classic novels.
I suggest that you try the 'On Loan' button.
At one end of the library there is a little movie viewing room that plays a loop of footage of speeches that changed the world. I listened to Martin Luther King's 'I Have A Dream'.
If you are going to visit, I suggest you take along any old childrens books you might have to donate in the hole in the wall to help Volunteer Reading Help, a charity that helps children who struggle to read.
When I finally have a house or apartment of my own to decorate I really want to have a couple of literary inspired spray painted stools like this one in my study. 
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I spent a lovely and tranquil 20 minutes curled up with what is, in my opinion Sylvia Plath's best collection of poetry, Ariel, that happened to be handily perched on the corner of the table. 

The library is open until March 1st, and I'm definitely going to be spending a lot of time there, reading writing and catching up on some of my uni work - if you see me in there, be sure to come over and say hello!

Have any of you been to visit the Selfridges Library yet? What did you think of it? 


  1. I actually just got home from Selfridges and I popped into this library while I was there. It's fantastic, and you're so right about the staff being very knowledgable and friendly.

    I'm hoping to go to a couple of the events too so maybe I'll see you there!


  2. Adele Joanna Gould16 January 2012 at 19:46

    Great photos!

  3. adorable pictures! ;)
    you want to follow each other?

  4. New favourite place in London for sure! It was so relaxing to sit there.

  5. This looks awesome! Will definitely try & make the effort to pop by just to visit this for sure! :) Thanks for sharing!

    Love Aysh xoxo

  6. This is such a great idea! I'm in London in a few weeks, I hope I have a chance to go check it out! xx

  7. This sounds like my idea of absolute heaven!! I need to visit!! XX

  8. I am very, very jealous that I live 10 000 miles away right now! This looks so, so wonderful - and yes, Waiting for Godot is a must. Samuel Beckett on the whole is a must. It's just a little bit marvelous.


  9. This looks amazing! Definitely gonna have to have a visit. xx

  10. Really nice place!

  11. Wow, I'd be in heaven! So jealous! That just seems like the best way to spend an afternoon. Glad you enjoyed yourself (and will now look into Plath's poetry collection!).

  12. what an amazing space! i love how you've captured it so well- looks like the perfect spot to just escape in all these wonderful books. love the presentation as well x

  13. I visited The Library yesterday & it was heaven! Great photos.

  14. Beautiful pictures, I never knew that selfridges had a Library. I'd like to explore it myself, but the thing is that I live very far from England.

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