The Ninth Wonder of the World

Published 12:31 pm Wednesday, August 4, 2021

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By John Maruskin

Contributing Columnist

You’ve heard of the Seven Wonders of the World.  And you’re probably familiar with the fact that “Seven Wonders” is a category that not only applies to ancient architectural sites, but, according to who is making the list, arbitrary wonders of the natural world, the modern world, industrial world, underwater world, the solar system, and USA Today.  As Jimmy Durante said: “Everybody wants to get into the act!”

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Then there are ephemeral “8th Wonders of the World,” brand lures like King Kong, Gorgo, and the West Baden Springs Hotel in West Baden Springs, Orange County, Indiana (no kidding, look it up).  

Today, I propose a 9th Wonder of the World.  A wonder that is neither arbitrary nor ephemeral and, I suspect, never categorized as a wonder because it’s ubiquitous.  

The Ninth Wonder of the World is any library’s stacks, it’s collection.  Wonder, in it’s most basic senses means something that causes astonishment or admiration, or being in a state of astonishment or admiration.  That’s what library’s stacks offer any time you visit.

Wonders are more often discovered than sought. Treasures you aren’t looking for shine brightest.  Any day of the week, library stacks offer you the opportunity to be the Indiana Jones of your own mysteries.

For example.  Love mysteries?  Detective fiction, thrillers.  Find “Howdunit: A Masterclass in Crime Writing by Members of the Detection Club,” (who are all the major crime fiction writers of the last hundred years), edited by Martin Edwards (808.3872 Howd).  Like to design and craft clothing?  Try, “Make thrift, mend: Stitch, Patch, Darn, Plant-dye, and Love Your Wardrobe,” by Katrina Rodabaugh (646.404 Roda).

Baseball fan?  You gotta see “Picturing America’s Pastime: Historic Photography from the Baseball Hall of Fame Archives,” (796.357 Pict).  Fascinated by color in nature? Check out “Nature’s Palette: A Color reference System from the Natural World,” (752 Natu) That book specifically shows and names all of the different colors you’ll see in plants, insects, and animals, and offers a Wunderkammer (cabinet of curiosities) of pictures.  Truly a wonder-inducing book.

The books listed above are found in the Library’s New Non-Fiction section, and by listing new books, I am in no way suggesting you stop at the front of the Library.  The outskirts of the stacks draw you in.  You find the really amazing stuff by exploring the interior.  Go for it.

As always, if you need a guide to point out a possible path, ask a librarian.  Librarians LOVE to help patrons get oriented.  

Just like you set out to discover the wonders of a new city or landscape or portion of the star-studded sky (Perseid Meteor Showers are peaking) get into those stacks and explore.  

That’s wonderful.