Anthony Burgess: ‘What’s wrong with libraries’

Anthony Burgess (1917-1993), that grumpy old author of A Clockwork Orange, wrote this about libraries:

Reference libraries won’t do. You can’t read a book seated at a table on a hard chair without a smoke and without a drink. A book can be properly read only when lying down or slouched gracelessly.

– Urgent Copy p.291

I certainly prefer to read in bed, and I have sympathy with what he is saying. Yet not all reading is for pleasure; some is for study or reference.

The trend toward comfortable chairs in libraries suggests libraries might be taking heed of him forty years after he wrote.

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