09.07.2024 / Melanie Gamma

A Treasure Trove of Books in the Middle of the Village

We recently got a public bookcase in my town of Trimbach in the Canton of Solothurn, Switzerland. Located in the middle of a park, the weatherproof library was built by a school class. The concept behind this public bookshelf is to bring, lend or keep well maintained books.
Why I love public bookcases? Because they’re treasure troves. Books are valuable to me per se. They take us on magical journeys, lend wings to our fantasy, inspire us to dream, and allow us to escape reality. Before vacation especially, it’s high time to organize some reading material. Off to the library, to the book store, ... or to a public bookcase. Why the latter is particularly worthwhile? I'll let you in on it.
A true treasury of books in Ireland…
In 2010, I fished a true treasure out of a book trunk in Ireland. On a longer trip, we visited Hook Head. The black-and-white striped Hook Lighthouse is the oldest working lighthouse in Europe. The accessible tower is almost 800 years old. It would make a wonderful setting for an exciting novel. Inside the structure, I found a wooden crate with books to take for free. One with a gold, red and black cover caught my eye: The Poet by Michael Connelly.
I flipped through the brittle pages with my fingers, binge-reading the thriller over the next few days. 14 years after Ireland, The Poet may once again join me on vacation – because it’s one of the few books that I read a second time.
…a trouvaille in Burgundy…
I also discovered a mysterious box of books on a bike tour in the town of Arnay le Duc in the French region of Burgundy. A wooden crate with a glass pane was integrated into a castle wall. I stopped so abruptly that my brakes squeaked, the door on the little bookcase making the same noise. Voilà: I found Flammes de Velours by Maurice Dekobra from the year 1927.
“Très interessant,” someone scribbled right at the front, adding comments on the following pages in their shaky handwriting. The bleached, musty pages were held together by tape. Even though my French isn’t good enough to understand the work, I took it with me.
...and a dusty book from the secondhand shop
This isn’t the oldest book in my “archive.” That “honor” goes to a book on home economics for thoughtful fathers and concerned mothers from the 18th century that I got from a secondhand shop. It smells as musty as the “life tips” in it. Written in the squiggly German typeface, the book is certainly amusing.
An edition of The Little Prince from 1950 has a special place in my literary stock, found in a telephone booth converted into a bookcase in Guarda, in the Swiss Canton of Graubünden. The previous owner used two punched theater tickets as bookmarks – I left them in The Little Prince.
Stories between two covers
Do you feel my joy when a book doesn’t just tell a story between two covers, but becomes one itself? Our daughters have inherited this fascination for books. We own as many picture, children’s and beginner’s book as other families have shoes, hats or apps. Many of them were presents and, like “my” yellowed finds, are special to our girls. Others were gripping or sweet, but can move on.
Where to? To our community’s public bookcase, of course. Maybe I’ll discover some treasures like in Ireland or France there one day soon.
Melanie Gamma
Communications specialist
This text was originally published in “Oltner Tagblatt” on June 28, 2024.
09.07.2024 Melanie Gamma Kommunikationsfachfrau