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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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! 

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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!

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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.

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I suggest that you try the ‘On Loan’ button.

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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’.

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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.

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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? 

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