oliver sacks loves libraries

Apaul-articleLargeOliver Sacks at Threepenny Review:

When I was a child, my favorite room at home was the library, a large oak-paneled room with all four walls covered by bookcases—and a solid table for writing and studying in the middle. It was here that my father had his special library, as a Hebrew scholar; here too were all of Ibsen’s plays—my parents had originally met in a medical students’ Ibsen society; here, on a single shelf, were the young poets of my father’s generation, many killed in the Great War; and here, on the lower shelves so I could easily reach them, were the adventure and history books belonging to my three older brothers. It was here that I found The Jungle Book; I identified deeply with Mowgli, and used his adventures as a taking-off point for my own fantasies.

My mother had her favorite books in a separate bookcase in the lounge—Dickens, Trollope, and Thackeray, Bernard Shaw’s plays in pale green bindings, as well as an entire set of Kipling bound in soft morocco. There was a beautiful three-volume set of Shakespeare’s works, a gilt-edged Milton, and other books, mostly poetry, that my mother had got as school prizes.

Medical books were kept in a special locked cabinet in my parents’ surgery (but the key was in the door, so it was easy to unlock).

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