The Library Project is a three-month long literary residency from June - September at citizenM London Bankside hotel. For its first edition, citizenM has commissioned Seb Emina, author and editor-in-chief of The Happy Reader to curate a communal travel book library, in collaboration with Stanfords, which charts a map of our timeless fascination with travel through the ages, from explorations of classical civilisation to intergalactic journeys.
Seb’s creative process saw him separate the book list into several distinctive categories: ranging from ‘Road’ and ‘River’ to ‘Family vacations’ and ‘Islands’. Beyond the classics, Seb’s categories extend into more abstract and playful elements of travel: including ‘Time Travel’, ‘Interstellar’ and the curious ‘Dogs, donkeys, fridges’. Each grouping brings books of a similar nature together, guiding guests to the distant lands or areas of expertise that may interest them the most. Or perhaps, encourages readers to delve into books that are new to them.
The library comprises 100 of the best travel books: ranging from The Odyssey to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Visit citizenM Bankside from 6th June - 6th September 2019 to to browse the library, immerse yourself in the many books and awaken your wanderlust.
All books are available at www.stanfords.co.uk/citizenm-library. Use code CITIZEN19 for a 15% discount.
A note from the Curator:
“It’s a nice job, selecting a hundred travel-themed books for a hotel library, but it took longer than I imagined. This was partly my fault. If I’d just included everything ever published by the world’s most exalted travel writers, the complete works of illustrious journey-describers like Jan Morris, Paul Theroux and Bill Bryson, I could have finished the job in an hour or two. But this seemed too easy, and I set myself a constraint: no more than one book by any given writer. In the end it took months to settle on a list with, I hope, the right sort of balance between practical and literary, serious and hilarious, famous and obscure."
In a proper library, books are ordered according to the Dewey Decimal Classification System. Travel books fall under class 910 denoting ‘geography and travel’ (subdivision 910.4 for example is the correct location for ‘accounts of travel, discoveries, shipwrecks, adventures’). I wanted to devise a new filing system, tailor-made for this list of books, in this particular hotel. Hence a section dedicated to ‘the city we’re in’ for books that will enhance a guest’s appreciation of London. Hence, also, another section given over to ‘guidebooks (current)’ at various scales: to help tourists navigate their visits to London, England, Europe, Earth. And for those mostly in the mood to just look at a bookshelf and think vaguely about reading sometime in the future, are sections that can double as prompts for the imagination: ‘interstellar’, ‘dogs, donkeys, fridges’, ‘road trips’.
Within these groupings are plenty of titles you might blurt out if someone said ‘travel book’ in a word association game, like The Travels by Marco Polo or On the Road by Jack Kerouac. But there are also those which are surprising (but valid!) in a travel library: Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express or Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Some came to mind having been mentioned in The Happy Reader magazine. The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen comes courtesy of our interview in the current issue with the America actor Owen Wilson. He says of the Himalayan memoir that, “It seems like almost every page has something that’s really meaningful in it, that I want to think about, to savour.” The ideal book to sit with for five minutes, or five hours.
I want to make this library work for all kinds of hotel visitor, from those thrilled to finally take The Travels of Ibn Battuta to bed with them, to those who want to leaf through an atlas for thirty seconds. Why not use it like the TV in a hotel room? Flip through each book for a few minutes at a time then pick one and settle in for the night. Or don’t, and just keep changing channels, which is the way most of us use our in-room TVs, and is perhaps the most hotel-friendly way of reading books too.” - Seb Emina, Curator