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9 More Gorgeous European Libraries

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We’ve seen great libraries from all over the world, including a second look at amazing American libraries. Now it’s time for more beautiful libraries in Europe!

1. The Royal Library, Denmark


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The Royal Library is both the national library of Denmark and the University of Copenhagen’s library. It is also the largest library in all of the Nordic countries. The library was founded back in 1648, but its current building was constructed in 1999. In an attempt to keep the stunning old building (which was completed in 1906) in operation during the massive expansion, the new building was added across the street and features three bridges connecting it to the older wing. The new building is nicknamed the “Black Diamond” because it is made up of two black cubes clad in black granite with a massive glass atrium in the middle that allows visitors to look over the beautiful sea just outside.

In addition to the extra library space, the new building also features a concert hall, exhibition spaces, two museums, a bookstore, a restaurant, a café and a roof terrace.

2. Malmo City Library, Sweden

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When this library first opened in 1905, it was housed in a hotel. About 40 years later it was moved into its own building, a castle-inspired structure designed by architects John Smedberg and Fredrik Sundbärg. Since then, two buildings have been added, including a second collection wing known as the “Calendar of Light” and a central entrance to the two buildings, featuring a café and information desk, known as “The Cylinder.”

These days, the library holds over 550,000 different items, and in 2006 it became the first library in the country to lend out video games.

3. Leipzig University Library, Germany


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Founded in 1542, the Leipzig University Library is one of the oldest university libraries in Germany. The library was originally housed in a monastery building before being moved into a stunning neo-renaissance building on campus in 1891. Unfortunately, two-thirds of the building was destroyed in bombings during WWII. The majority of the books survived the destruction but, even so, 42,000 volumes were lost.

For years, only the undamaged left wing was used; the reconstruction of the rest of the building was only completed in 2002. These days, the library holds over 5 million volumes including 8700 manuscripts and 3600 incunabula dating from the 16th century. They also possess the longest and oldest surviving medical manuscript from ancient Egypt, which is dated from 1600 BC.

4. The University Library of Graz, Austria


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The third largest library in Austria, the University Library of Graz, was founded as a Jesuit college library in 1573; it was turned into a state university library in 1773 when the Jesuit order was abolished. In 1885, the library was moved to a new building on the new university campus. Nowadays, the library has almost 3 million books, 2000 manuscripts and 1200 incunabula.

5. Vilnius University Library, Lithuania


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Founded by Jesuits in 1570, the Vilnius University Library is the oldest library in Lithuania and one of the largest—it contains more than 5.4 million volumes. The library was opened to the public in 1804, then closed altogether after the November Uprising of 1831. It wasn’t opened again until 1856 and while it has largely remained opened since then, the library has been victimized by a number of fires as well as plundering during both World Wars.

Over the years, the rare book department has managed to accumulate over 160,000 items dating from between the 15th and 21st centuries and the manuscript department now holds over 265,000 documents; the oldest dates back to 1209.

6. National Library of Finland, Finland


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This national library is also the library of the University of Helsinki. Aside from maintaining a copy of all printed matter created in Finland, the library also has one of the most comprehensive collections of books published in the Russian Empire.

The oldest part of the National Library dates back to 1844; the "new" rotunda addition is still over 100 years old (it was added in 1903). Most of the library’s 3 million item collection, however, is stored underground in the library’s “bookcave.” The main library is one of the best examples of Empire-styled architecture in Finland and features extensive fire planning design innovations—including vaulted ceilings in all the rooms and halls. The rotunda also features fire precautions including a steel and concrete framework.

7. Biblioteca do Palacio e Convento de Mafra I, Portugal

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In the back of this massive palace is a Rococo library, which many consider to be the highlight of the entire structure. The 35,000 leather-bound books in the library’s collection cover the majority of western knowledge dating from the 14th to 19th centuries. The library was well-designed for the protection of books, leaving space between the shelves and the wall to prevent excess humidity from building up, and a bat roost to prevent accumulation of book-eating insects inside the library.

8. Casanata Library, Italy


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Established in 1701, Cardinal Girolamo Casanata ensured that this monastery library, completed the year after the Cardinal’s death, was always open to the public. Even after the library was taken over by the Italian government in 1872, the library has remained available to all Romans. Included in the library’s collection are 64 Greek codices and 230 Hebrew texts, including 5 Samaritan codices. There are over 2000 books printed before 1500 and 6000 manuscripts.

9. Chethems Library, UK


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This Manchester library is the oldest free public library in all of the UK. It was opened as part of Chetham’s Hospital in 1653, according to the will of Humphrey Chetham, for the education of "the sons of honest, industrious and painful parents.” It has remained in continuous use since that time and holds 100,000 volumes, 60,000 of which were printed before 1851. To save the books from any flooding, the library collection is housed on the second story of the building. To prevent any book theft, all the titles were chained to the bookcases—a common practice of the time.

Even though this is a sequel to the first European libraries article, I’m sure there are still a few beautiful ones out there, so if I missed some you think deserve to be mentioned, feel free to tell everyone about them in the comments.

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Ernest Hemingway’s Guide to Life, In 20 Quotes
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Though he made his living as a writer, Ernest Hemingway was just as famous for his lust for adventure. Whether he was running with the bulls in Pamplona, fishing for marlin in Bimini, throwing back rum cocktails in Havana, or hanging out with his six-toed cats in Key West, the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author never did anything halfway. And he used his adventures as fodder for the unparalleled collection of novels, short stories, and nonfiction books he left behind, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, Death in the Afternoon, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea among them.

On what would be his 118th birthday—he was born in Oak Park, Illinois on July 21, 1899—here are 20 memorable quotes that offer a keen perspective into Hemingway’s way of life.

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen."

ON TRUST

"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them."

ON DECIDING WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT

"I never had to choose a subject—my subject rather chose me."

ON TRAVEL

"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love."

Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. [1], Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INTELLIGENCE AND HAPPINESS

"Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know."

ON TRUTH

"There's no one thing that is true. They're all true."

ON THE DOWNSIDE OF PEOPLE

"The only thing that could spoil a day was people. People were always the limiters of happiness, except for the very few that were as good as spring itself."

ON SUFFERING FOR YOUR ART

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

ON TAKING ACTION

"Never mistake motion for action."

ON GETTING WORDS OUT

"I wake up in the morning and my mind starts making sentences, and I have to get rid of them fast—talk them or write them down."

Photograph by Mary Hemingway, in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston., Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE BENEFITS OF SLEEP

"I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?"

ON FINDING STRENGTH 

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."

ON THE TRUE NATURE OF WICKEDNESS

"All things truly wicked start from innocence."

ON WRITING WHAT YOU KNOW

"If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water."

ON THE DEFINITION OF COURAGE

"Courage is grace under pressure."

ON THE PAINFULNESS OF BEING FUNNY

"A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book."

By Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. - JFK Library, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON KEEPING PROMISES

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."

ON GOOD VS. EVIL

"About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after."

ON REACHING FOR THE UNATTAINABLE

"For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed."

ON HAPPY ENDINGS

"There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it."

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12 Fantastic Facts About A Wrinkle in Time
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istock (blank book) / Taeeun Yoo (cover art)

Madeleine L’Engle’s acclaimed science fantasy novel A Wrinkle in Time has been delighting readers since its 1962 release. Whether you’ve never had the chance to read this timeless tale or haven’t picked it up in a while, here are some facts that are sure to get you in the mood for a literary journey through the universe—not to mention its upcoming big-screen adaptation.

1. THE AUTHOR’S PERSISTENCE PAID OFF.

She’s a revered writer today, but Madeleine L’Engle’s early literary career was rocky. She nearly gave up on writing on her 40th birthday. L’Engle stuck with it, though, and on a 10-week cross-country camping trip she found herself inspired to begin writing A Wrinkle in Time.

2. EINSTEIN SPARKED L'ENGLE'S INTEREST IN QUANTUM PHYSICS AND TESSERACTS.

L’Engle was never a strong math student, but as an adult she found herself drawn to concepts of cosmology and non-linear time after picking up a book about Albert Einstein. L’Engle adamantly believed that any theory of writing is also a theory of cosmology because “one cannot discuss structure in writing without discussing structure in all life." The idea that religion, science, and magic are different aspects of a single reality and should not be thought of as conflicting is a recurring theme in her work.

3. L’ENGLE BASED THE PROTAGONIST ON HERSELF.

L’Engle often compared her young heroine, Meg Murry, to her childhood self—gangly, awkward, and a poor student. Like many young girls, both Meg and L’Engle were dissatisfied with their looks and felt their appearances were homely, unkempt, and in a constant state of disarray.

4. IT WAS REJECTED BY MORE THAN TWO DOZEN PUBLISHERS.

L’Engle weathered 26 rejections before Farrar, Straus & Giroux finally took a chance on A Wrinkle in Time. Many publishers were nervous about acquiring the novel because it was too difficult to categorize. Was it written for children or adults? Was the genre science fiction or fantasy?

5. L’ENGLE DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO CATEGORIZE THE BOOK, EITHER.

To compound publishers’ worries, L’Engle famously rejected these arbitrary categories and insisted that her writing was for anyone, regardless of age. She believed that children could often understand concepts that would baffle adults, due to their childlike ability to use their imaginations with the unknown.

6. MEG MURRY WAS ONE OF SCIENCE FICTION'S FIRST GREAT FEMALE PROTAGONISTS ...

… and that scared publishers even more. L’Engle believed that the relatively uncommon choice of a young heroine contributed to her struggles getting the book in stores since men and boys dominated science fiction.

Nevertheless, the author stood by her heroine and consistently promoted acceptance of one’s unique traits and personality. When A Wrinkle in Time won the 1963 Newbury Award, L’Engle used her acceptance speech to decry forces working for the standardization of mankind, or, as she so eloquently put it, “making muffins of us, muffins like every other muffin in the muffin tin.” L’Engle’s commitment to individualism contributed to the very future of science fiction. Without her we may never have met The Hunger Games’s Katniss Everdeen or Divergent’s Tris Prior.

7. THE MURKY GENRE HELPED MAKE THE BOOK A SUCCESS.

Once A Wrinkle in Time hit bookstores, its slippery categorization stopped being a drawback. The book was smart enough for adults without losing sight of the storytelling elements kids love. A glowing 1963 review in The Milwaukee Sentinel captured this sentiment: “A sort of space age Alice in Wonderland, Miss L’Engle’s book combines a warm story of family life with science fiction and a most convincing case for nonconformity. Adults who still enjoy Alice will find it delightful reading along with their youngsters.”

8. THE BOOK IS ACTUALLY THE FIRST OF A SERIES.

Although the other four novels are not as well known as A Wrinkle in Time, the “Time Quintet” is a favorite of science fiction fans. The series, written over a period of nearly 30 years, follows the Murry family’s continuing battle over evil forces.

9. IT IS ONE OF THE MOST FREQUENTLY BANNED BOOKS OF ALL TIME.

Oddly enough, A Wrinkle in Time has been accused of being both too religious and anti-Christian. L’Engle’s particular brand of liberal Christianity was deeply rooted in universal salvation, a view that some critics have claimed “denigrates organized Christianity and promotes an occultic world view.” There have also been objections to the use of Jesus Christ’s name alongside figures like Buddha, Shakespeare, and Gandhi. Detractors feel that grouping these names together trivializes Christ’s divine nature.

10. L’ENGLE LEARNED TO SEE THE UPSIDE OF THIS CONTROVERSY.

The author revealed how she felt about all this sniping in a 2001 interview with The New York Times. She brushed it aside, saying, “It seems people are willing to damn the book without reading it. Nonsense about witchcraft and fantasy. First I felt horror, then anger, and finally I said, 'Ah, the hell with it.' It's great publicity, really.''

11. THE SCIENCE FICTION HAS INSPIRED SCIENCE FACTS.

American astronaut Janice Voss once told L’Engle that A Wrinkle in Time inspired her career path. When Voss asked if she could bring a copy of the novel into space, L’Engle jokingly asked why she couldn’t go, too.

Inspiring astronauts wasn’t L’Engle’s only out-of-this-world achievement. In 2013 the International Astronomical Union (IAU) honored the writer’s memory by naming a crater on Mercury’s south pole “L’Engle.”

12. A STAR-STUDDED MOVIE ADAPTATION WILL HIT THEATERS IN 2018.

Although L’Engle was famously skeptical of film adaptations of the novel, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay (13th; Selma) is bringing a star-filled version of the book to the big screen next year. Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Mindy Kaling, and Zach Galifianakis are among the film's stars. It's due in theaters on March 9, 2018.

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