Saturday, February 22, 2014

Saturday fun: where is this?

    When all of our reading matter is finally stored on electronic devices, we won't need all these books jamming our shelves. Which I suppose might be a good thing, or have its good aspects—from a housekeeping point of view, for instance. Less dusting. 
      That is the brave, you-might-as-well-be-glad-about-what's-going-to-happen-whether-you-like-it-or-not view. Though speaking for myself, I will miss books. A person's library speaks volumes about who they are (sorry, the mindset of yesterday's pun column lingering...)  When I walk into someone's home or, in this case, their office, my eye is immediately drawn to their books. First, because I'm glad they have them — not everybody does — and second because I'm interested in what those books are. Sometimes a person's books indict them—junk fiction, dare-to-win self-help swill, stuff that makes the heart sink. And sometimes books compliment their owners and intrigue guests. As someone who has an entire shelf of books selected purely for their off-beat topics—Snow in America by Bernard Mergen next to to a pair of volumes both titled Ice (one, by Marina Gosnell, subtitled The Nature, the History, and the Uses of an Astonishing Substance, the other, by Karal Ann Marling, Great Moments in the History of Hard, Cold Water) I admired this collection of useful volumes that I noticed Friday when I spent a pleasant 90 minutes visiting ... well, maybe I shouldn't say. Maybe I should be coy, and leave you hanging about exactly where these books are shelved, and make it into a puzzle.  In the office of a beloved institution that has been in operation a long, long time, one located within 15 minutes of my house in Northbrook, one whose director could be expected to own books such as these. 
      Who would have such a collection? The first reader to email me the answer at, will receive one of my limited edition blog posters as a prize, and I'll share the answer here as soon as someone figures it out. 

    That was fast. A half hour after midnight, Lynne Arons guessed Wagner Farm. The books are in the office of director Todd Price, an eighth generation Iowa farmer who left the family farm to run the 18-acre Glenview institution. I was there Friday researching a Sunday piece that will run in the Sun-Times this spring. Thanks to everyone for playing—a lot of people suspected the Chicago Botanic Garden, as well as places like weatherman Tom Skilling's office or that of WGN farm reporter Orion Samuelson.  Next time I'll try to find something a little harder to figure out. 

Photo atop blog -- Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University 


  1. Replies
    1. Aww, that must have been too easy. Yes, office of the director of Wagner Farm. Email me your address and I'll mail you a poster, if you want one.

  2. Chgo Botanic Garden

  3. Neil,

    You should be PUNished for that bad joke about "volumes".

  4. Neil--You sure about the photo attribution? That looks a lot like the British Library to me, the new iteration. Had lunch there (a cafe is adjacent to this huge book tower that in my memory matches this one, but I could be wrong). Of course, two such places might have similar designs. Great contest idea, by the way: a bit more idiosyncratic and personal than Sullivan's View from Your Window contest.

    1. Absolutely. Though I know exactly what you mean -- the King's Library has the same glassed in construction. They look similar, but I shot this last August, on our trip out East. And of course I remember the gal in the picture, our tour guide.

  5. Donate some books to your local library or high school. Don't hoard.


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