Isn’t that magical how printed black signs work together and form an actual meaning? (or, My Reading History)

college library

The Western Galilee College library.

I was always encouraged to read at home. My mom read a lot growing up and she passed on her love of reading to me. I loved school and learning and doing my homework! I am such a geek! But a cool geek though.. I learned how to read Russian from my mom in order to read on my own the Russian collection we had at home.

I started to get more interested in reading in middle school and visited the tiny library there from time to time. Mostly I wanted to practice my English, I remember choosing the classics in English for beginners. In high school our small library had a little collection of art books that caught my attention. I was studying graphic design at the time and that department contained a collection of old album series of the greatest artists, It was an old edition from 1964. I was fascinated with that series of albums! I would visit our Public Library and go through the art books and at that time my friend got me reading the Dragonlance Chronicles Trilogy. Go Raist! It’s the only Fantasy I’ve ever read. All this time I wasn’t the most eager reader, I didn’t read a lot. Also, I didn’t have a substantial variety to be inspired from. Living in a small town I only had one small Public library and practically no book stores (the horror!). In the late 90’s, I still had no idea what internet was. But I knew I liked books, and that one day I’ll be able to afford the ones that I wanted most.

Later on, at the age of 18 I joined the army and didn’t have time for reading at all, but precisely then I started to collect. I was getting an allowance and I was traveling more around the country. Many times I got to visit Tel-Aviv. Tel- Aviv was like another planet on its own. Everywhere there were old, secondhand book stores. It was affordable, there was variety, it was exciting like finding a priceless treasure

On holidays we used to get these coupons and guess what I used to buy?…. The biggest treasure I got from the coupons was “Fantasy Workshop” by Boris Vallejo and Jullie Bell. I purchased it in another town of course. Still can’t believe my luck, cus it’s a process book, with sketches and everything. It was soooo expensive.

After the army and after working for another year I quit and began my studies in Graphic Design. Finally, I was exposed to a two story heaven on earth, the college library! Although it’s also small for a college library, nevertheless I got my inspiration at last. The first year was tough and left me no time to explore, but on the second year I’ve already examined what the library had to offer as far as my interests went. By the third year I was using books as a reference and idea generating tool for my projects. Also at that time I got to some more serious reading. Every chance I got, I would go to the library.


The widest book I’ve seen so far in person, 6” wide! Moses Sar’el’s collection, Western Galilee College library.

The college library literary changed my life. It contained something extremely special in it, a vast collection of a true bibliomaniac. That man was crazy about books! Everything worth reading, discovering, knowing, was of his inheritance. Most of the books in fact. A whole universe in one man’s private collection. His name was Moses Sar’el, he was a Sociology professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He bought the books in different old book stores across Jerusalem, throughout many years. Those book stores don’t exist anymore. When he died, in the early 90’s (his newest book I found was from 1993), his widow donated the collection to our college and thus freed the whole apartment that was blocked with books, even the bathroom! He’s one of the most influential non-existing people in my life. During my exploration in the library over 2 years, it felt like I was getting to know him, and I could even tell by the cover if that was Sar’el’s book. Most of his interests were dear to me as they were to him: art, especially the Italian Renaissance, ancient history and cultures of Egypt, Greece and Rome, ancient and classical literature and poetry, dictionaries, ancient maps and more. The widest book I’ve ever seen in person was Sar’el’s “The New Century Dictionary of the English Language”, about 6” wide. Many copies of my collection today are the ones that I encountered and fell in love with in Sarel’s collection. Thanks to him I discovered so many new worlds and started to develop my own little Bibliophillia. The amazing Time life series of “The Great Ages of Man” was revealed to me in all its glory, Ernst Gombrich’s “The Story of Art”, Jacob Burckhardt’s “The Civilization of the Renaissance”, Dante’s “Divine Comedy” with Duré’s illustrations and many many more.

After graduating college, very luckily I found work pretty soon, and about a year I was extremely busy learning the craft of dissecting graphics in the real world for print. I still could take books from the college library for the next two years, and I did.

About 3 years ago I’ve experienced a new twist of events by discovering a popular Israeli site of book blogging, much like Goodreads and such, only here I could also purchase secondhand books from all over the country pretty easily. Need I say more? And the binging began…..

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4 thoughts on “Isn’t that magical how printed black signs work together and form an actual meaning? (or, My Reading History)

  1. The Galiliee library looks imposing. I’m surprised and a little envious that you know Russian. I’ve always wanted to read Chekhov in his mother tongue, the way it was intended to be read. Translations are usually done by scholars who do a good job. I’m yet to read a short story by Chekov that I hated.
    However, there are certain nuances to the language that get lost in translation. Some things simply do not translate well. Its’ got less to do with limitations of language, and more to do with cultural disparities, I think. Its’ a pity because most of my favourite authors do not write in English.

    I’ve read so much about your collection, that I can’t wait for a post where you show us the collection and the titles you’ve collected. Just saying…

    • Anna says:

      You have such a good taste in literature. Chekhov is the master! I have his whole works in Russian, in a series that’s lacking only one volume unfortunately. Have you read ‘Fat and the Thin’? You’re absolutely right about cultural differences as being somewhat a barrier in front of a true pleasure of a full apprehension. Alas, there’s nothing to do with that. Yet I cannot brag about reading a lot of Chekhov though.
      About my collection, it will be seen in the next posts. I’m just thinking about how to present the books, what do I have new to say and how to make it interesting. Takes time. I have pending subjects for posts. There’s so much I want to say about books that it creates a big problem for me. But- I’m definitely working on it. Thanks for such a support!
      Who are your most favorite authors?

      • I’ve read a lot of his short stories. But I don’t think I’ve read The fat and the thin.
        A lot of my favourite authors are known for just a single book. The God Of Small Things is the only book Arundhati Roy ever wrote. That was enough to make me a fan.
        Same goes for ‘Pather Panchali’ (A Bengali novel) written by Bibudibhushan Bandhopadhyay. Don’t bother going over the name. I’ve got trouble digesting the name myself, and I’m Indian. He wrote other books too, but none were as good.
        Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Chekhov are my favourite Russian writers. Crime and punishment is my favourite work. Some of their other books were better, but I felt a deep connection with the lead character, Raskolnikov.
        If I could suggest just one book for your Library from India, it would definitely have to be Pather Panchali. I had borrowed the book from our library without knowing about its’ brilliance. Later, I moved away from home, and took the book with me. I had fallen in love, not only with the words, but also physically with the book itself. It’s strange, I know. Eventually, once when I went home on a visit, my sister sneaked the book back to the library. She paid more in library dues than what the book was actually worth. I went as far as to consider stealing it back. (Don’t worry, I didn’t go through with it :D) I’m planning on buying a copy now.
        I don’t wanna bore you anymore, but I assure you that Pather Panchali is worthy of being in your collection. You will fall in love with Apu and Durga. I don’t know if the book is available in Israel, though.

      • Anna says:

        You do not bore me at all. This is very interesting, I will check that book out. You’ve intrigued me. I completely understand what it means to fall in love physically with a book.

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