By Deb A.
On a pretty, bustling corner of Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg, one can sip a coffee and pluck at a three-tiered brunch and watch people browse the local trees for a new read.
The Bücherwald (Book Forest) consists of several tree trunks with hollowed out shelf spaces sporting plastic flaps that do a decent job of protecting the books stacked inside from the city's notoriously unpleasant weather. The concept, from BAUFACHFRAU, is not unique; the organisation credits similar initiatives in Bonn and around the world (like this one) as inspiration. This public booksharing site is particularly charming. It's a delight to tourists who stumble upon it and a perfect spot for locals to give their dusty titles the chance at a new life.
A more famous but equally subtle landmark is just one neighbourhood over. Near invisible in the centre of Bebelplatz (and, somewhat oddly, surrounded by an underground parking lot) is a pane of glass that looks down onto enough white bookcases to hold 20,000 books -- the number of titles that were destroyed on the site in a Nazi book-burning ceremony in 1933. The shelves stand starkly empty, and a plaque by the glass quotes Heinrich Heine: "Where they burn books, they will, in the end, burn people."
And so, through no fault of its own, a delightful booksharing site reaches beyond friendly gesture and becomes a quietly poignant statement.
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