Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A fortuitous trip to the library, light reading... and heavy questions

I had a library book to return last week and Friday was the first of what was to be three nice days in a row. So it happened that, after I thought I had tended to the Typical Friday Crisis, I decided to take a walk to the other end of the Loop, to the Harold Washington Library, the flagship of the Chicago Public Library system -- and one of the ugliest public buildings in the world.

That's not just my opinion, either. Forbes Magazine agrees with me (quoting from the slideshow that can be accessed from the preceding link):
At the time of its opening, it was billed as the "world's largest public library." It could be one of the most expensive public libraries as well. When it was finished in September 1991, local press raved that the building was finished on time and within its mighty budget of $144 million. But even when the design was first proposed, critics weren't sure of its aesthetic appeal. Chicago Tribune architecture critic Paul Gapp called architect Thomas Beeby's design "a heavy, lackluster statement." Said one Manhattan-based architect of the library, "It's truly, truly horrific."
On the other hand, if barbarian invaders ever storm the City -- assuming that those invaders are not toting the most advanced weaponry -- the Harold Washington Library Building would be a good place to stage a last stand. The masonry walls are literally several feet thick... necessary to hold the weight of all the books stacked within.

There were, however, no more barbarians than usual on Friday afternoon, and I went to the library after finishing my other chores.

Yes, chores.

Chief among these was the need to buy a new office diary over at the Chicago Bar Association, also isolated in the southeast corner of the Loop. Judges are starting to give out 2010 dates and I need to calendar them.

Yes, on paper.

I like to hit the 7th floor of the Washington library every time I visit. That's the "language and literature" section. In other words, fiction. And a couple of stacks are devoted to newly published books. I never know what I'll find intriguing. Friday, I found five books.

I had to buy a book bag to tote them back to the Undisclosed Location and my wife eyed me curiously when she saw the bag.

As it turned out, though, it was a good thing I'd laid in supplies.

Saturday morning, out with Long Suffering Spouse at the local Costco, I began to feel "puny" (as Bee might put it) -- lightheaded, faint -- and this was before we got to the cash register.

I took to my chair when we got home and stayed there pretty much straight through the rest of Saturday... then Sunday... then yesterday.

Today, I'm back at work.

Whether the virus has been thoroughly routed is really beside the point: When you're self-employed you can't afford to be away from the office for long. And I worked the phone and the email yesterday even though I had no head for it.

About all I could do was read.

So I read three of the five novels I checked out on Friday. All told, these came to a lot less than 1990 pages -- and, what with plots and characters and all -- they were far more interesting than the national health bill that passed the House of Representatives on Saturday night. That bill ran to 1990 pages, too.

It was filed on October 29 -- just about 10 days before the vote was taken. One has to wonder -- given the tight timeframe -- how many of those congresspersons making impassioned speeches on C-Span (to largely empty galleries as you may have seen) had actually read the bill... much less studied it. And I'm being bipartisan here: I wonder how many of those for and against it have any idea what they actually voted on.

I'll stop now before I suffer a relapse.


Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

puny sucks curmy. sorry...

smiles, bee

Shelby said...

Yes, but what DID you read? Names of books please :)

do tell..

landgirl said...

Well, maybe puny was just a much needed excuse to sit and read--a great treat.
Yes, what did you read?
I have never been inside the library but I actually kind of like it--there is something grand about it.