I was one of those people who never really fell for the Beast in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, never thought he deserved Belle. Do a few days of awkward flirting to save himself from a curse really warrant forgiving the almost twenty-one years of being a jerk? I thought no.
Then came the library scene. Talk about style! Every bit of my stubborn, fiercely critical teenager just melted when Belle opens her eyes and takes in the huge stacks of books that contain stories she never even knew existed. This was my fairytale ending: just lock me in that library and throw away the key. Cogsworth and Mrs. Potts can bring me food and drink, I’ll put my feet up on that cute little former dog and say goodbye to the world outside leatherbound covers.
No place like that exists in real life, right? I went searching the wilds of the internet to find out in honor of National Library Week.. (I suppose I should have researched at the library, but there’s too much distraction there for me.)
Beijing’s Liyuan Library had me at “hidden in a small village.” Then I saw it’s made entirely of wood and recycled materials. The Beijinger called it “Beijing’s Most Instagrammable Library,” and in a country where you have The Great Wall and Winter Palace, that’s saying a lot. Architecture Professor Li Xiaodong thought his minimalist design could bring more focus to the small villages near Jiaojiehe, helping tourists appreciate its surrounding landscapes.
In sharp contrast are the majestic walls that enclose the New York City Public Library, glorious for its Beaux Arts style. The largest marble building in the U.S. when it was built in 1911, its stacks boast 125 miles of reading which also buttress the structure in some underground areas. And who hasn’t seen that iconic angled image of the lions who guard New York’s knowledge?
Guests of the Hearst Castle can choose to cuddle up with one of 4,000 volumes in a cozy Gothic setting. Where many traditional libraries focus on the shelves, here the seats are central, with reading and meeting tables always at the ready. Hearst’s office was just next door, and he would convene in the library often. Be sure to look upwards for wood ribbed arches and gorgeous Moroccan lanterns.
The St. Florian Monastery in Austria comes the closest to my Beastly Castle ideal, and even gives me the chance to use Cogsworth’s pun “If it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it” 150,000 volumes rising to meet a vibrant ceiling fresco by Bartolomeo Altomonte and Antonio Tassi, I may have found my next nerdy vacation spot.
If living near a library sounds just as delightful to you, Search With Style© on our website to find the just the right spot.