It’s not everyday you see a book that can be read in six completely different ways, and this small book from the National Library of Sweden is definitely an anomaly. According to Medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel, this 16th century text has a special sixfold dos-à-dos (or “back to back”) binding with strategically placed clasps that makes it possible for six books to be neatly bound into one. This particular book contains devotional texts, including Martin Luther’s Der kleine Catechismus, which was printed in German between the 1550’s and 1570’s.
While it could be hard to keep your place in this book, you can’t ignore that the engineering of it is quite a feat. In the age of the Kindle, Nook, and iPad, it’s a nice reminder of handcrafted ingenuity.
The library closes far too early, in her opinion. Sure, it closes at eight, and sure, maybe she ought to try just showing up earlier, but in her defense, it isn’t solely her fault. She only gets off work at five, and there are just so many books to read. How are three hours anywhere near enough?
She frequents the place almost every day, knows it like the back of her hand. But there’s something off about it today. Maybe it’s the fact that the historical fiction section switched places with the biography section, but that was last week.
Lily grabs her books and walks up to the counter to ask Peggy whether or not there’s a copy of Everything, Everything available and oh shit that’s what’s different.
There’s a different librarian - a bloke - at the desk, with hair too messy to be legal, glasses too outdated to be unintentionally bought, and a shirt too wrinkled to ever have come in contact with an iron. He’s the kind of fellow who’d be perfect as the main character as one of the books Lily wants to check out - maybe a Peter Pan or a Percy Jackson kind of fellow.
He looks up from fiddling with the cuffs of his button-down, meets her gaze for a moment, and cocks an eyebrow.
“You’re the first person under forty I’ve seen so far.” His voice almost seems to echo, and it’s much louder than most librarians tend to be.
Lily can’t even tell if he’s being dense or just kind of cocky, but she’ll place her bet on the latter. It’s clear as day in the way he holds himself - self-assured, unashamed, even a bit arrogant but still good-natured.
She crosses her arms. “That’s not true, and you know it. You’re literally right next to the freaking children’s section.”
The bloke laughs, a sound almost out of place in this quiet library. She owes herself twenty dollars.
“Check and mate, I guess. But then again, it’s not like I can really see them.” He taps his glasses with a ridiculously long finger. “They’re getting smaller every day, I swear.”
Lily even smiles at that for a second, before stuffing it back where it came from. This arrogant, loud-mouthed (they’re in a fucking library, has he no sense of volume?), far-too-handsome idiot has no place in this library of hers.
(All the same, she wouldn’t mind reading about someone like him.)
“Yeah, sure” she says, quickly, trying to get to the point. “Listen, do you guys have another copy of Everything, Everything?”
He shrugs. “Hell if I know.”
Lily is done with this bloke. She makes her way around the desk to where he’s sitting, pushes away his chair (“Oi, what d’ya think you’re doing?” but he doesn’t sound particularly annoyed, just curious), opens up the catalog page on the monitor in front of him (the first thing she sees when she opens it up is a March Madness bracket - she now kind-of-sort-of-really wants to punch the guy), and soundlessly types in the words Everything, Everything.
No more copies available, but there’s one currently on hold. And it’s not hers. Damnit.
The guy standing behind her takes a look at her screen, and she can hear him let out a breath. “Oh, shit, that book? Isn’t that the one with like the mysterious guy and the girl who’s supposed to be sick but - “
Lily hastily shoves out her hand, as if to slap it over his rambling mouth. “No spoilers!” she all but yells. And she realizes that she’s being such a hypocrite right now, so she adds, a little bit more quietly, “Please.”
The bloke smirks, like he knows exactly what she’s thinking. “Alright, then.” He peers over at the screen once more, and Lily presses the power button. She gets up, and moves over to the side of the desk that she ought to be on.
“Well,” she says curtly, trying not to smile (for some reason) at this endearing annoying stranger. “Thanks.”
He grins at her. “Don’t mention it.”
Suddenly, something occurs to Lily. “Hold on,” she says slowly. “You’ve read this book?”
For some reason, the bloke turns red. “Er - um, no? I got it for my friend…Marlene? And like I read the summary on the back -”
Lily smirks. “Liar. You’ve totally read it.”
If possible, he turns even redder - it’s quite a funny sight. “I was bored, alright? And it was lying around - I really had bought it for Marlene - and I…may have skimmed it?”
Lily laughs and tucks a strand of red hair behind her ear. “Why are you acting so defensive? It’s just a book, relax.”
“Well, it’s not as good as the Percy Jackson series.” Besides the point, but Lily can’t deny that it’s true.
“Fair,” she admits.
She notices a watch on his hand (it looks extraordinarily beat-up, made of old leather and a face of cracked glass), and checks the time. Crap, the library closes in a few minutes. “I really should be going,” she says, making sure she has all the books she wants before turning around.
(She’s not sure if she’s imagining it, but the librarian’s face seems to fall slightly.)
Just as Lily’s about to head back, she hears a quiet “Wait.” She turns around.
“What is it?”
“Er.” The librarian looks…pretty sheepish, and he rubs the back of his neck. “What - what does it say on your shirt?”
Lily almost rolls her eyes, and she pulls back the cardigan she’s wearing.
“I left my heart in a book,” the guy reads. He looks back up at her.
“Is that, like, for a book club or something?”
Lily stares at him in confusion. “Sorry?”
“The shirt - you must’ve got it from some sort of club.”
“I…got it from Macy’s? So no, not a book club.”
He looks quizzically at her. “You know, you should probably make that shirt a book club, then.”
Lily raises an eyebrow. “For hearts in books?”
“Yeah, something like that. Like, aggressive bibliophiles or something.”
She perches herself on the desk, her legs starting to get tired of standing, and almost ends up knocking over a stapler. “Who’d join?”
“Yeah, and I’d grab some friends, too. Get some drinks, maybe some fries, and master the art of abandoning our poor, forsaken hearts in some dusty old books.”
Lily actually lets out a laugh. “I - don’t think that’s what it means.”
“But wouldn’t that be more dramatic?”
Come to think of it, it would be. Lily tries to envision it, but the only thing that really comes to mind is some sort of cult with an obsession for Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley. And they, of course, take their fries with a small cup of blood.
Anyways. She shrugs, and gets off the desk. “You do have a flair for the dramatics, then. Say, who the hell are you?”
His hands fly up to his hair - for what, to make it even messier? - and ends up almost knocking his glasses off the bridge of his nose.
“Stop giggling, bloody hell. And it’s James.”
Against her better judgement (sod it all, rational thought), she reaches over and pushes up his glasses. His hazel eyes follow her fingers, and he looks a little bit cross-eyed. It’s all a little bit sweet.
“James, is it? Well, I’m Lily, founder of the Hearts in Books Club.” The bloke - James, now - snorts at that, only causing to Lily to giggle even more.
James looks down at his watch . “I think the library closes right about now, you’d best be off.”
Lily swears under her breath, and James raises an eyebrow.
“Now, what was that?” The accent he’s putting on sounds a bit like some old-fashioned English professor, which kind of goes with the button-down, but not with the hair. “You do know you’re near the children’s section, next to so many impressionable young minds - you wouldn’t want to give them the wrong idea -”
“Oh, sod off,” she says, but not before glancing over to see if there’s anyone under the age of ten watching them. She checks to see if she still has all her books, and actually turns to leave.
“See you, Jimmy.” She smirks.
“OI, WATCH IT!”
Once she turns the corner, she can’t stop smiling. And even once she gets home and picks up her books and tries to - tries to lose her heart in them, damnit, she can’t stop thinking of James and the Hearts in Books Club and that damn hair.
Fuck, she thinks.
Lily returns to the library the next day, of course - she needs to pick up the sequel to Six of Crows, the novel she just finished.
(And she may or may not want to see if James is there.)
(He isn’t. Peggy is back, and though she loves Peggy, she’s a bit disappointed.)
(What is wrong with me, she thinks.)
After finding Crooked Kingdom, finally, she traipses over to the holds section. As far as she remembers, she doesn’t have anything on hold, but it’s always good to check.
There’s a book in her slot.
Furrowing her brows, she reaches up (and, quite embarrassingly, has to get up her tippy-toes; damn her lack of height), and grabs it. It’s hardcover, feels pretty new, and strangely enough, it doesn’t have that clear library binding around it.
The cover reads Everything, Everything. It’s the book she wanted yesterday - the one that the library shouldn’t have an available copy of. Confused, Lily opens the front cover, and the first thing she sees is a little note on a yellow Post-It, scribbled in Sharpie.
Can this be the first book of the Hearts in Books Club?
See you Thursdays and Tuesdays.
There’s a little smiley face doodled next to her name, and Lily feels a strange, swooping feeling that she normally only feels at the end of a really good book.
And oh, fuck, she can’t stop grinning.
(But maybe, when she gets home, it’s something more than the book itself - something having to do with the note on the inside front cover - that prompts her to read it over and over again).
1690s book with filigree silver binding - National Library of Sweden
This binding is an exquisite example of Danish filigree technique from the 1690s.It belongs to the National Library’s Huseby Collection and was once owned by Karren Mogensdotter Skoug. Her name and the year 1692 are engraved on the inside of the clasps. -(x)
This is an ongoing plot in my “The Ties That Bind Us” storyline featuring all 8 of my characters. Read it all from the beginning HERE!
Gogo held up a thick packet of handwritten notes he’d been reading, showing it to Granny. "Look at this! These notes say there’s a whole research facility dedicated to the Mothercrystal and the Echo.“
The old Roegadyn strode over to him, placing down her heavy tome on the desk in front of Gogo. “Ooh… The only books I’ve found are historical accounts of people who had possessed the Echo.”
“These are recent notes,” Gogo said. They were very scientific, and full of numbers related to accumulated aether levels and experiments used to measure the Mothercrystal as a power source, but interesting to him nonetheless. “Made by a Sharlayan researcher. The name of the facility was the Antitower.”
Granny scratched her chin. “Hm… I’m afraid I’ve never heard of it.” She looked around at all of the tomes and notes they had assembled already. “Perhaps we should bring all this back to the others.”
Gogo looked around the room. The Forbidden Section was a lot larger than he expected it to be, with a ceiling so high he couldn’t even see it. The Sharlayans apparently seemed to think a lot of topics were “forbidden” - everything ranging from the Echo, to dark magicks, and weapon development were all contained here. “Yeah…” he said. “This library is a little creepy.”
“The Antitower, hm?”
Gogo and Granny both whirled to face the entrance of the chamber at the same time, instantly on guard when they spotted Invidia. Granny held her gnarled wooden staff at the ready, and Gogo fumbled for his gun.
“What? You were all so welcoming before, but now you want to fight,” said the Garlean woman. She, too, held her spearcannon, but it was slack in her hands as she started to walk toward them.
“Come no closer,” said Granny, her face set in a scowl. “This knowledge is not meant for you.”
Invidia’s face was impassive behind her half-mask. “What could an old crone and a child whose fingers shake too much to hold his gun do to me?”
Gogo set his jaw and immediately launched a pair of lightning-aspected discs at her from his gun. In a flash, Invidia shot them out of the air, but a blast of wind from Granny sent her flying back into another desk with a grunt of pain. When she landed, globs of sticky black pitch fell from a stack of books, dousing her and holding her in place.
“Woohoo!” Gogo cheered. “The trap worked! How’s that for a crone and a child?”
"Excellent form, my dear,” said Granny. She put her staff on her back and took a step closer to Invidia. “Now… you stay there. The others will be here shortly, and we’ll be bringing you into custody.”
The Garlean snarled. “You underestimate me.” She struggled against the sticky pitch, mumbling something to herself. “Voice command: Junction. Activate.”
Gogo thought he had imagined it, but something on her arms glowed, underneath her armor but vibrant enough for him to see. Orbs of light in red, green, yellow, and blue popped into existence for just a moment, and as soon as they faded, Invidia turned her head sharply to look at them. “Para-Magic: Water Configuration!”
In a moment, water swirled around her, washing away the pitch and freeing her limbs. Granny moved for her staff again in one quick movement. “Magic? But how?”
Invidia held out her hand, aiming it at Gogo. “Para-Magic: Lightning Configuration!” Lightning flashed from her palm, striking Gogo square in the chest before he could react. Sharp, burning pain coursed through his body, and for a moment he saw nothing but white. He felt himself crumple to the floor, unable to move, and just as quick as it came the pain faded to a steady burning in each of his limbs. He watched Granny through bleary eyes as she wove a magic spell in retaliation.
A blast of light fired from Granny’s hands, but Invidia whirled out of the way and leapt at Granny with lightning coursing up and down her spearcannon. With a flick of her wrist, the stone floor rose up to meet Invidia, defending Granny from the front. Water rose up from behind the wall, converging on Invidia, but she leapt to one of the higher bookshelves and lashed back at Granny with a lasso of lightning.
Granny covered herself with a magic barrier, but banged her staff on the floor to summon stones to launch up high. “You will not hurt these children!”
Edge appeared next to Gogo, then, kneeling down to check if he was okay. Even in as much pain as he was in, Gogo knew he wasn’t physically there, but he was comforted by his presence nonetheless. “Damn, she found you two of all people! What’s going on? How’s she using magic?”
“I don't…” he started to say with a raspy voice. “Granny… needs help…”
Invidia dropped to the ground, landing gracefully. “Para-Magic: Fire Configuration!” She held up both her hands, conjuring flames that she threw at Granny. The old Roegadyn diverted the spell, but it lit the books aflame. The fire quickly spread, heat licking at Gogo and Granny both. Granny began casting water spells, but Invidia’s barrage didn’t let up.
“We’ll try to find you guys as quick as we can,” said Edge.
“We don’t need to,” said a voice in Gogo’s head. He recognized it immediately as Azionne’s. “You’ve got me. My manifestation of the Echo.”
Help me, Gogo thought. And, just like that, he was Azionne. Or, rather, he felt her taking control… stepping into the pilot’s seat while he watched.
“Are you mad?” Granny asked Invidia. “You’ll destroy all this research! And get us both killed!”
“I can control it,” said Invidia, aiming her spearcannon at Granny. “You were unwise to cross me, you old crone. I’m afraid I’ll have to kill you and take that boy in to research and experiment with his Echo.”
Right before she pulled the trigger, a sudden chill swept through the room. Ice bloomed on the walls and the books, immediately dousing the flames. Gogo stood, the pain coursing through his body like a distant memory, and he held out his hands in a casting stance that he was not at all familiar with. Even so, he watched, a passenger in his own body.
“Gogonegi?” Granny asked, perplexed. “You are capable of such magic?”
“Gogonegi isn’t here,” said Gogo, but in a singsong way only Azionne would say it. "What say you we take down this Garlean together, Moss?“
1. Pick a book with a character you see yourself in: Amy Cahill from the 39 clues series.
2. What about them makes you think of yourself?: She’s bookish, she’s shy and awkward in social situations, she loves learning about obscure things and is a total nerd, what more is there to say?
3. Is it hard to find this kind of character in books and other media?: Eh, I think there are a fair few, especially in older YA. What I love most about Amy though is that although she’s not loud-spoken or brazen or a “badass” or whatever, she is still written as such a strong and brave individual. That’s definitely not something you see a lot of in books, sadly.
4. Post a selfie or a book photo—or both! Or neither! Whatever you feel comfortable with.
Our 1880 edition of The Poetical Works of John Milton, printed by Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., No. 13 Astor Place, New York. With a bookplate from Wilber C. Mickey, purchased on March 26th, 1887 for 85 cents.
Hubby wrote up a really cool guide to vampire hunting for the Dnd campaign and I couldn’t help but turn it into a prop. “The Occult of the Curse of Vampirism,” in Alaria Obarskyr’s possession, of course. Could come in handy :)
Circulation just sent me this book, which apparently is actually the halves of TWO different books bound together accidentally by our commercial binder.
As far as I can tell, the first half of the book is “What we talk about when we talk about love" by Raymond Carver, and the second half is a book by Jilly Cooper, whose work we do not actually have listed in our library catalog. In other words, one of these books IS from our library, and the other is probably from some other library. So that means there might be another library book floating around with the first half of Jilly Cooper’s book, and another book with the last half of our copy of Raymond Carver’s book.
This beautiful #publishersbinding is from the 1903 edition of Madame Butterfly. It’s an example of the interest in Japanese art and design that spanned the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning years of the twentieth.⠀
MU Ellis Special Collections Rare PS3523.O47 M3 1903 ⠀