By Rachel Arandilla
I LOOKED around in amazement.
Around me were 50,000-something books with 13-meter tall bookshelves, lots of open air and natural light. Quite a few people are taking selfies, while some are silently reading or working on their laptops. I was just looking around, unable to hide my amazement with all the books around me.
I was in South Korea’s Starfield Library in COEX, Seoul. There was enough furniture for people to sit and lounge around. The free wifi is perfect for you to check on emails and social media. There are daily special events that promote art and culture such as book tours, music events, art exhibits and more.
I took a few photos, of course. More than a few.
Libraries always fascinated me. It transported me back to my childhood, when I didn’t have friends and all I had were books.
The books in my shelf were my friends.
They were a odd bunch of friends, too. There was Harry Potter, of course. And then there was Elizabeth Bennet; to her left was Blair Waldorf; and to her right was the weirdo Lisbeth Salander. There was The Little Prince, the Greek Odysseus, and then the pedophilic Humbert Humbert. There was the ironic Holden Caulfield, Robert Langdon, the prostitute Veronika and the old wise man Morrie, and finally, Robert Kiyosaki.
As I assembled this cast of characters, I wondered what would happen if they were in the same room. It would be quite a party; and none of them would ever get along!
And then, like most of us, I grew up. I didn’t read as voraciously anymore. I transferred my energies and learned to explore the external world. I gained self-confidence, traveled more, met more people, took on new activities. I left my books to dust in the shelves.
It’s good to be reminded of your childhood and pick up books. Once in a while.
Sometimes I wish I was more introverted. Then maybe I could have been more intellectual. Friends are such distractions. I wish I had the urge to stay indoors more often, so I can read more often, study more often, gain more knowledge about the world.
But then again, aren’t friends like borrowed books you take out in the library? Certain ones that get you like, “I wanna take you out on a drink? So I can pick your beautiful mind…”
My cast of friends are also a diverse and odd bunch of vegans and artists and mothers and dancers and businessmen, some of whom you compartmentalize because you know it might either result in an orgy (unlikely) or hell on earth (more plausible).
Sometimes I still revisit the library or bookstore and get lost for hours. Books are still a lot like friends — we tend to only read and retain the ones we want to believe in. Some books will fool you, lie to you, give you wrong perspectives. Books that make you question yourself, books that make you question your parents. Books that make you feel love, fear, awe, inspiration.
What makes me more at ease with books than warm bodies? Books have conclusions. (Unless it’s a series and the author is still taking his time finishing the last two books — I’m looking at you, George R.R. Martin).
Books have endings, and the endings don’t change. The fates of Sirius Black or Augustus Waters are sealed, whilst the people we know are still living another chapter of their life. We will never know how long our novels will be. The fact that I wouldn’t be able to peek through the last pages and see how this one will end… that gives me a lot of unease.