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Our little black book of enchanting places


BOOKS ON THE BEACH by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in NEWS By The Travelwrap Company

Picture via Designboom

Outdoor cinemas are everywhere this summer. But there is another en-plein-air trend we like even more: libraries on the beach. So if your Kindle batteries die or you finish your paperback, you can find something else to read without leaving the beach. Genius.

Apparently, it’s all thanks to Ikea. When it celebrated the 30th birthday of its Billy bookcase in 2010, it put 30 of them on Bondi Beach, filling the shelves with hundreds of books. Not surprisingly, Bondi’s pop-up library (pictured top) was a huge hit.

Picture via Albena Resort

One of this summer’s biggest pop-up beach libraries is in the Black Sea resort of Albena, where some 2,500 books are arranged over 140 shelves. Don’t speak Bulgarian? No problem – books are organised in more than 10 different language sections, each marked with a national flag. Look out for a collection of short stories by Bulgarian author Yordan Yovkov, published in six languages, and entitled, appropriately, Albena.

Picture via Designboom

The most stylish pop-up beach library has to be the Bibliothèque de Plage in Istres, on the south coast of France. With 350 titles, ranging from Jane Austen to contemporary fiction, the library is a collaboration between its designer, Matali Crasset, and the town’s municipal library, and is intended to be a reminder, says Crasset, of the importance of maintaining physical, personally curated collections of books. Just so.

Picture via lirealaplage

In Normandy, they do things slightly differently, arranging their bookshelves not on the sand but in purpose-built cabins with a reading terrace. The Lire à la Plage scheme was launched in 2006 and this year includes 14 cabins on or next to beaches between Criel-sur-Mer and Le Havre. The white huts with scarlet roofs and matching chairs are not difficult to miss, though bibliophiles will have to move quickly as they close for the season at the end of this month. Further information, www.lirealaplage.net.

Similar to the Lire à la Plage cabins, is the Biblioplatja in Vinarós, Valencia, which co-hosts workshops and readings as well as operating a lending library. Incidentally, this beach town organises several Cinema under the Stars evenings, too, so visitors to Vinarós this summer get two trends for the price of one.

The Netherlands, Albania and Israel are three other early adopters. And though we haven’t heard of any in the UK yet, we’re sure Books on Bognor Beach is only a matter of time.

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