You don’t need a big room like this to enjoy reading, yet there is something very conducive, perhaps even seductive, about an airy library space that entices the book browser to sit down and enjoy an extended period of quiet and intellectual stimulation. Quiet reading places can be usually be found at home, but use of a public place to sit down and absorb an engaging piece of literature is also very rewarding.
Both Boston and New York have excellent public library systems, each with their own late 19th century edifice that is worth a visit just to admire the exquisite architecture and interior design of each place. When in New York be sure to check out the Rose Room on the second floor of the library at Bryant Park. With an elaborate wood decor and heavenly murals placed across the ceiling, this vast space is like the Sistine Chapel of US libraries.
Besides the exquisite Reading Room the Boston Public Library has a pair of lions and and several gallery spaces are worth checking out, plus a fancy restaurant called Sebastian’s. All in all, it is a great space to spend a few minutes or the whole day.
Bookstores, although not as ornate, still can provide a rich experience for those who like the idea of having a printed word or image that has been printed on paper and bound within a soft or hard cover. Of course, the idea is to purchase a book and take the reading material home. How these institutions will survive the growing phenomena of the e-books is beyond me, but I do enjoy visiting the brick-and-mortar merchants and bringing home a new book.
In retrospect, anyone visiting NYC or Boston ought to check out these institutions along with the adjoining plazas and park areas. In the process you will learn much the creation of both interior and exterior public space in two of the Northeast’s most important cities.