I believe in sea gods and sea people. I am under a strong spell of the Sea Library – this wildly beautiful beast. I’m filling its belly with books. I love sea-infected writers and sea-addicted readers. I need the sea as if my life would depend on it.
When American writer Madeline Miller’s novel “Circe” was first published in English in 2018, I drank it like the nectar of the gods – quickly and with an intoxicating aftertaste. Now, when reading in Latvian, the effect is the same.
Mikk Sander Lemberg is an Estonian designer who graduated in 2021 from the Interactive Design program of the Design Faculty of the Estonian Academy of Arts with a master’s thesis dedicated to public libraries “Shaping the Future of Public Libraries”.
“Every family with a newborn receives a bag with his or her first book, tips on reading for parents, and his or her first library card. Therefore, every family in Lithuania at least has the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the benefits of early reading and its best practices.”
Best Green Library Project this year is the Canopée Mediathèque in Paris, France. It was awarded as a pilot project – to try out how to be a sustainable library without a special budget for that, so that the lessons learned could be implemented in the entire Paris library network
“Together” is a keyword for the Missoula Public Library. Not only the structure of the building is made up of elements inspired by the surrounding nature, put together, but also the library itself implements a visionary idea: to gather various organizations under the “hat” of a public library.
Next year will mark 10 years since the Brooklyn Public Library launched a community studies project, collecting, recording and digitally storing the stories of residents of Brooklyn neighborhoods. The ambitious and at the same time intimate project “Our Streets, Our Stories” is easily accessible to every citizen of the world on the interactive map.
Since the grown-up Astrid lived in Stockholm she was not able to enjoy nature all the time, but she could travel there in her imagination. That’s how the story about Ronia began – with a longing for the forest.
Sea Library is a dream world I have created in our old wooden house, standing for a century on a dune peninsula between river and sea. For three years the doors of the library are wide open for books about seas and curious readers to come and go. To support what I do, I weave. If you will buy a woven bookmark, you can be sure that a new book will be bought and added to the unique watery collection.
Rachel Carson’s seminal ‘Sea’ trilogy – “Under the Sea-Wind” (1941), “The Sea Around Us” (1951), and “The Edge of the Sea” (1955) – has been reissued by Canongate in the publisher’s modern classics series, ‘The Canons’. The beautifully-produced paperbacks – each a celebration of the sea told through poetic nature writing – include a full set of integrated illustrations and a pertinent new introduction by Margaret Atwood.
Sea Library lives on a peninsula between the river and sea. After seven days by the sea, I’ve gathered talismans now from the riverside. It is Lielupe River, second largest in Latvia, and one of the slowest. I’ve grown to love this river, one hundred steps from our wooden house and the library.
Seven seas is a figurative term for all the seas of the world. To cross the seven seas means to sail them all, to sail to the most distant coast. But the only sea and the only coast that means all the world’s treasures to me is my Asari beach three miles from my bed. I cycle there to gaze, to swim, to take notes and guess birds. I collect talismans as if they were clues and try to untangle the secret of the sea…
“Saving American Beach” tells an important and inspiring story. The illustrations by Ekua Holmes are a work of art. I think this could be the most beautiful book for kids in the Sea Library. Mixing painting and collage each spread is vibrant and full of life. Perfectly mirroring the unique and powerful personality of MaVynee Betsch.
Children’s books on the shelves of the Sea Library bring tides of illustration. In “A Book About Whales” by Andrea Antinori you will find exquisite pencil-drawn whales, a beautiful pakicetus, the first cetacean that walked on land, and so much information told in a fun way.
“What is a River?” is a gentle gem, telling you a layered story about a river. “The river glimmers in the shade, reflecting trees and flowers. It has hidden depths beneath its surface. Just like people. “River, who are you? Grandma, what is a river?” The book tells you that river is a thread, a journey, a meeting place; that river is home, a name, a history and a mystery.
A beautiful and terrifying portrait of the oceans and their human subjects, and a fascinating study of big business afloat, “Down to the Sea in Ships” by Horatio Clare is a moving tribute to those who live and work on the great waters far from land.
I was honoured to be invited to write a piece for A La Luz about the Sea Library. My essay is about clocks and sea, and my dad’s thumbnail. A La Luz is an important and visually stunning online platform created for art and culture in a time of crisis. It is a compendium of creative responses to climate change. Happy to be a part of it now!
“The Little Book of Swimming Safely: Incomplete Advice for Wild Swimmers” was written last year in the middle of the pandemic with closed public pools and a huge increase in the number of people heading to rivers, seas and lochs near home. Even before lockdown swimming throughout the year in wildness had become more and more popular. Cold water swimming is beautiful, healthy and also dangerous. This little blue book comes in handy.
Erin is fascinated by the legend of Black Rock. It is huge, dark and spiky mass that is said to destroy boats. But are the tales really true? One day Erin sneaks on board her mother’s fishing boat to find out.
“Be careful when opening this book,” writes American author Lewis Buzbee in an added letter, “inside is a tiny sliver of wood, which is a veneer from the original planking of the Western Flyer, the boat Steinbeck used for this journey.” Gifts like these make me a grateful and happy sea librarian.
I am happy to announce that brilliant Robert Caskie is my agent and that I am writing a book about my road to the Sea Library. I can’t believe to see my name among writers I admire! It’s time to set sail…
Beautiful new book for kids in the Sea Library. “Meet me by the Sea” is written and illustrated by Taltal Levi who was born in Israel and currently works and lives in Switzerland. From a young age she used drawing as a tool to liberate herself from reality’s hardships and dullness.
Sea comes back closer again, ice melts, and a silver cover appears. There are not so many books that I am afraid to begin because who knows where will I become stranded this time. “Albert and the Whale” by Philip Hoare is published in March, 2021.
What happens to abandoned places when nature is allowed to reclaim its place. A unique book “Islands of Abandonment: Life in the Post-Human Landscape” by Cal Flyn, published earlier this year, has reached the Sea Library thanks to the generosity of Iain Rousham from England.
A book I didn’t know existed until I received it as a gift from Jean Wilson in Christmas. Henry Beston’s nature writing classic “The Outermost House” turned into a beautifully illustrated book “The Fo’c’sle” for children. Nan Parson Rossiter is the author of text and drawings.
How to draw water? “The Mousehole Cat”, written by Antonia Barber and illustrated by Nicola Bayley, is a beautiful example to explore. It has become a Christmas tradition in Cornwall to re-tell the story of a brave old fisherman and his cat Mowzer who saved their coastal village.
“And she recounted her adventures until the starfish came out and the anemones fell asleep.” A gorgeous book for kids by K. G. Campbell will take you to the underwater world of Neptune’s daughters. One of the mermaids, Minnow, wants to find her purpose and has so so many questions.
It is 1984 and forty years since Simon, Patricia and Evelyn and Larry first stepped through a magical library door into the enchanted world of Folio. When Patricia’s daughter, Jewel, makes a mysterious discovery in an old bookshop, she begins a quest that will make her question everything she thought she knew. Summoned to Folio, she must rescue a missing prince, helped only by her pet hamster and a malfunctioning robot. Their mission to the Frozen Sea will bring them face-to-face with a danger both more deadly and more magnificent than they ever imagined.
Book chronicles the turning of 15-year-old Dara McAnulty’s world. From spring and through a year in his home patch in Northern Ireland, Dara spent the seasons writing. These vivid, evocative and moving diary entries about his connection to wildlife and the way he sees the world are raw in their telling.
Surf’s up! Mrs. Armitage and her dog, Breakspear, paddle out to surf the Big Wave. Soon the kindly Mrs. Armitage notices that Breakspear’s little legs are getting tired–so she swims off and returns with an inflatable desert island for him to rest on.
Grāmatā “Ukujali dzelmēs zivis dzied” poļu rakstnieks, žurnālists un dabas pētnieks Arkādijs Fīdlers 20. gadsimta 30. un 40. gados vairākas reizes dodas zooloģiskā ekspedīcijā uz tolaik maz izpētīto Amazones baseinu.
There are some summers, like there are some waves, that can never be forgotten. Hannah has dropped out of university to learn how to ‘walk on water’. At Ruben’s Cafe at the end of the Peninsula, she meets Jake, who has demons of his own and dreams of surfing the night. They come from different worlds but what brings them together is a love affair with the sea.
I wrote a 100-day diary this summer, from May 27 to September 4, choosing one swim each day to write about in around one hundred words. Here are five from the documented dips in river Lielupe and the Baltic Sea.
“If we can still learn from the ocean and its creatures, then we are not lost,” says Canadian author Laura Trethewey in an interview about her debut book “The Imperiled Ocean” and a new one she is working on right now.
“Sometimes when I’m near water I can switch off and appreciate the beauty of it all, and in much of my painting I hope to convey this feeling. But at other times, I can’t help but fear the ocean’s power, and regret the damage we’ve done.”
Create your own UNREAL ESTATE collection of coastal houses in literature, and note that there are only 50 copies of each signed, numbered and framed drawing and some have already found their new homes in UK, Ireland and Latvia.
A beautiful, wise and summery book “Mop Rides the Waves of Life” by writer and surfer Jaimal Yogis has arrived in the Sea Library. Mop loves to surf but struggles with mood swings until his mum shows that it is possible to surf those waves too!
In the third of a series of essays on seaside houses from literature, Anna Iltnere takes us to The Easternmost House Juliet Blaxland’s book of the same name. “On a stormy night, sleeping at the Easternmost House is like sleeping in a boat.”
“To have feelings for the natural world, we fundamentally need contact with it, something which is itself imperilled as we’re continually losing places of importance from our surroundings,” says British writer Julian Hoffman in an interview about his book “Irreplaceable”.
The year 2020 marks 75 years since Finnish writer and artist Tove Jansson wrote her first story about the Moomins. To celebrate the anniversary, Moomin Characters together with its partners is launching a one-year campaign to save the Baltic Sea from blue-green algae.
“I’ve always found the sea uncomfortable. Its flat horizon, bare dunes, everything in the spotlight of the sun, no shadows to hide in, wind pushing me from all sides and the pull of the waves. I much rather admire its greatness from a hideout.” Katrīna Ģelze
As a companion piece to the second of our essays by Anna Iltnere about literary seaside houses – Quoyle’s Point from “The Shipping News” – we present an interview with Annie Proulx, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the novel.
“I think seeing the stars has probably never been so important. They locate us within the universe, show us where we live and allow us to grasp (even if it is just for a second) the sheer scale of life.” Matt Gaw
In the second of a series of essays on seaside houses from literature, Anna Iltnere takes us to Quoyle’s Point from Annie Proulx’s “The Shipping News”. “No matter what they did to the house, it kept its gaunt look, never altered from that first looming vision behind the fog.”
Barbarian Days is William Finnegan’s memoir of an obsession, a complex enchantment. Surfing only looks like a sport. To initiates, it is something else: a beautiful addiction, a demanding course of study, a morally dangerous pastime, a way of life. For this book William Finnegan received 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Autobiography.
“As a terrible swimmer, the sea is the only place, strangely enough, that I enjoy splashing about in the water. Swimming pools are too noisy or organised, but La Mer is the place for me to practice my terrible breast stroke.” Jonny Hannah
For Umi, life on the lush and colorful islands of Hawaii is about as average as it can be. As commoners, he and his brothers spend their days weeding the taro field, fishing in the sparkling blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, and dreaming of the delicious foods and thrilling games that are reserved only for the chiefs and priests. But late one night, when everyone is supposed to be asleep, Umi’s longing for adventure gets the best of him.
Tom Anderson has always loved surfing – anywhere except the UK. But a chance encounter leads him to adventure on home shores. As he visits the popular haunts and secret gems of British surfing he meets the Christians who pray for waves (and get them), is nearly drowned in the River Severn and has a watery encounter with a pedigree sheep. All this rekindles his love affair with the freezing fun that is surfing the North Atlantic.
Kiran and Tom collaborated more than once before, blending their imagination and skills to create unique universes. Even now they are working on a joint book, which is still secret but will feature a lighthouse and a Greenland shark. I interviewed them together, although each was on a different continent when I received their answers.
“Walking by the sea is one of my favourite activities – sounds, colours, smells and temper, always different, always changing, affect me. I’m meditative, exhilarated, reflective, creative. It makes me feel how comforting the change could be.” Elina Ruka
As a companion piece to the first of our essays by Anna Iltnere about literary seaside houses – Shruff End from “The Sea, The Sea” by Iris Murdoch – we present an interview with Miles Leeson, lead editor of the Iris Murdoch Review.
In the first of a new series of essays on seaside houses from literature, Anna Iltnere, founder of the Sea Library on Latvia’s Baltic shore, takes us to Shruff End from Iris Murdoch’s novel “The Sea, The Sea”. Each essay will be about a different house, illustrated by the artist Katrina Gelze.
“Afloat on the afterglow of forbidden energy, texting the celestial canopy above. To sleep on the sea I return to a primeval cradle, a place to rest, not to think, but absorb. Transmuted in dreams I become the ocean.” Angela Cockayne
“Greetings from Almaty!” she writes in her e-mail a few days ago. If British writer Caroline Eden is not at home in Edinburgh, she is most probably traveling the roads of Eastern Europe or Central Asia, and her explorations in different cultures have a special kind of prism – food.
From the opening line—”Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last”—you will know that you are in the hands of a master storyteller and in the company of a fascinating woman hero. Inspired by a brief passage in “Moby-Dick”, American writer Sena Jeter Naslund has created an enthralling and compellingly readable saga, spanning a rich, eventful, and dramatic life.
Do visionaries – artists, writers, musicians, – have a responsibility to give us new languages and tools to actually do something about our deteriorating world? I asked. Artists David Bramwell, Justin Brice Guariglia, Olafur Eliasson, Antony Gormley and Jonathan Meese, writers Jay Griffiths, Caspar Henderson, Dahr Jamail and Barry Lopez, poet Craig Santos Perez, philosopher Graham Harman, and scientist Peter Wadhams wrote me back.
“I have already forgotten darkness,” Adam Weymouth writes after first weeks of kayaking through Midnight Sun in Alaska, following the kings, the salmons, to the Bering Sea. He paddles a bright yellow 18ft glass-fibre canoe down the Yukon, for almost 2,000 miles.
“River-Horse: The Logbook of a Boat Across America” is William Least Heat-Moon’s account of a four-month coast-to-coast boat trip across the United States in which he traveled almost exclusively on the nation’s waterways from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
This book is about waves. It is the story of an obsession, a journey through heaven and hell, the clumsy initiation of an outsider, the author himself, into a cult and a culture. It is also an oblique history of the world, a human comedy on waves, that will find an echo in anyone who has fallen prey to the spell of the ocean. Surfing is less a sport than a state of mind, an adventure in mythology, a religion with its own high priests and ritual sacrifices.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. Twain was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, which later provided the setting for “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn”.
Roger Cox, journalist from Scotland who writes about books, art and outdoors for Scotland’s National newspaper “The Scotsman” has donated a book for the Sea Library – “Stealing the Wave: The Epic Struggle Between Ken Bradshaw and Mark Foo”. It is written by Andy Martin, British author, academic and retired surfer, and published in 2007.
“Fuck the dry land. I am a mermaid,” she says in one of the first pages. Narrator of Samantha Hunt’s debut novel “The Seas”, originally published in 2004, is a 19-year-old girl, a protagonist with a witty tomboy’s voice, living in a remote, alcoholic seaside town in North America.
Charlotte Runcie’s “Salt on Your Tongue” is a book of stories, legends, myths and songs about the sea, and about women who are left on the shore to take care of the life on land, to wait and hope, while men are in the sea, and about women, who are as dangerous, powerful and mysterious as the sea itself, the mermaids, selkies, sea goddesses and witches.
Skotu rakstnieka Keneta Greiema grāmata “Vējš vītolos” ir bērnu literatūras klasika. Stāsta varoņi ir draugi Ūdensžurks un Kurmis, kuri kopā ar prātīgo Āpsi mēģina pāraudzināt avantūristu un sapņotāju Krupi. “Vējš vītolos” ir tapis no gulētiešanas pasakām, ko Kenets Greiems izdomāja savam dēlam Elisteram.
My interview with British writer William Atkins for The Island Review. His books “The Moor: A Journey into the English Wilderness” and “The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places” are available in the Sea Library.
“Ship to Shore: Art and the Lure of the Sea” is a monograph, a book of conversations with selected international artists whose work is connected to the sea. In sixteen intimate interviews with curator and book’s editor Jean Wainwright artists reveal how their works came to be and what the lure of the sea means to them.
My interview with British writer Adam Nicolson, author of “Seamanship”, “Sea Room”, “The Mighty Dead” and “The Seabird’s Cry”, I did for for The Island Review. You can borrow these books from the Sea Library.
“The Immeasurable World” by British writer William Atkins is about seven deserts in five continents, and about desert per se, divine and infernal. Author travels to Oman, Australia, China, Kazakhstan, United States and Egypt. “It was like nothing I had experienced save for being at sea.”