My book friendship started in the autumn of 2019. When we first visited the Werner Oechslin library in Einsiedeln, where my book was stored, I was not handed the book that was originally assigned to me, “Exercitationes vitruvianae”. Instead, I was handed a different book by the same author, Giovanni Poleni, named “Memorie istoriche della gran cupola del tempio vaticano”. I could then decide whether I would want to stick with my new book or return to the library at a later date and work with my originally assigned book; however, working with the new book meant that I would have to re-write task 1 of our assignment. I interpreted this mistake made by the librarian as fate and decided to work with the new book, which was also written in Italian and not, like my originally assigned book, in Latin.
I would describe meeting my new book as love at first sight. It was by far the largest book in the whole library and therefore immediately caught my attention. To turn the pages, I even had to get up from my chair (I am rather small) to not rip the paper while doing so. I immediately liked the book, because its large amount of text was written in two columns per page, which was a layout that was to this date unknown to me. Additionally, every now and then there were pages you could fold open and then unveiled large-scale pictures. Just as you might know it from your childhood books.
It is nice to know that out of 250 students, I am the only one who had such a close relationship with this book and knows it so well. It certainly helped to have had a can-do attitude towards these oftentimes overwhelming tasks right from the beginning. I never thought that I could develop such empathetic feelings towards a book! This became even clearer to me when we had to search for different versions and editions of our book. I could not find any and remember thinking “it’s a pity that you don’t have any relatives”.
Additionally, I was always excited to come across the book’s author, Giovanni Poleni, and its content, the St Peter’s Dome in Vatican City, during our History of Architecture classes. I realized more and more how knowledgeable, important, and unique my new friend was: it is the only book that contains the historically important restauration of the St Peter’s Dome’s cupola.
Eventually, I started realizing that I only know my book superficially and I got drawn into its contents more and more. Because it is written in my mother tongue Italian, it was getting harder and harder to resist the urge to read it completely (which would have taken an eternity anyways, because of its sheer size). Not knowing every last detail of my new friend even became embarrassing to me! However, I realized that I would not have to read the whole book to know its content. Reading just the table of contents and carefully studying the pictures was oftentimes enough.
Over time, the book has become my new best friend. I even have to admit that I would love to visit it again in Einsiedeln and read every last page of it.
At this point, I would like to add that during our visit of the library in Einsiedeln, I made another, second friend. Unfortunately, I do not even remember its name or content, but it was a small and very chunky book. Between several of its pages, someone hid small, dried flowers and leaves. When flicking through the book’s pages and admiring those carefully placed additions, I felt a deep connection to the book itself and the person who hid those plants in there. How many years ago was this done? Did this person ever imagine that some years, decades, or even centuries later, someone else would find this and appreciate this little gesture?