The 7 Most Amazing Tunnels, Towers, and Mazes Made of Books
Get lost in a book. Literally.
Electric Lit relies on contributions from our readers to help make literature more exciting, relevant, and inclusive. Please support our work by becoming a member today, or making a one-time donation here.
When you really love a book, you kind of want to climb inside it and get lost. But of course, you can’t literally climb inside books—or can you? We found seven structures from around the globe that let you surround yourself with stories on all sides. These awe-inspiring tunnels, towers, and mazes combine art, architecture, and a deep love of literature.
The Yangzhou Zhongshuge library in Yangzhou, China
Step into this bookstore in Yangzhou, China and prepare to be mesmerized by a river of never-ending books. Architecture firm XL-Muse found inspiration in the city’s waterscape and created black mirrored glass floors that reflect the lighting bolt above and the ceiling-high arched shelves, guiding the visitors deeper into the tunnel of infinite tomes.
Scanner by Matej Kren in Bologna, Italy
Using books as a building blocks for a giant tower, Slovakian artist Matej Kren tries invoke a sense of greatness, confusion and reflection in his art sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in Bologna (MAMbo). He uses mirrors in the narrow inner-space to create an illusion of infinity and to confuse the viewer’s spatial perspectives. The conflict of false infinity in a tight space introduces the viewers to the problem of latent perception and how conventions cloud the way we experience place.
Biografia by Alicia Martín in Madrid, Spain
Spanish artist Alicia Martín’s sculpture in Madrid depicts a cascade of books tumbling out a window like a rushing waterfall. Her gravity-defying Biografias series transformed 5,000 used books, suspended from a mesh wire cage, into a giant sprawling chute. Pages from the books rustle in the wind, giving life and imbuing a restless energy to this inanimate art piece.
Tower of Babel by Marta Minujin in Buenos Aires, Argentina
This Tower of Babel was made of 30,000 donated books in languages from all over the world. Argentinian artist Marta Minujin created the 80-foot-high, seven-story art piece in celebration of Buenos Aires’s designation as the 2011 World Book Capital. At the dismantling of the sculpture, book lovers picked a book from the tower while the rest were preserved into archives of The Library of Babel, named after a story by the great Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges.
The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles, U.S.A.
Bargain hunters and #bookstagrammers alike pilgrimage to the Last Bookstore in downtown L.A. On the second floor of this bookstore is the Labyrinth: a vast and chaotic maze, home to more than 100,000 used books priced at just $1 each. The perfect place to get lost in a book, the space features doors that go nowhere, time-travel portholes looking into artwork of the cosmos, hidden pathways that lead into secret bank vaults and a glowing tunnel of paperbacks. Don’t forget to look down! The ground is covered in pennies.
Idiom by Matej Kren in Prague, Czech Republic
Yet another mind-boggling literary sculpture by artist Matej Kren! This staggering installation at The Prague Municipal Library in the Czech Republic is made up of hundreds of used books stacked Jenga-style to form a cylindrical tower. The reflection of the mirror at the base of the tower resembles looking down into the watery pool of a wishing well. Another mirror placed on the ceiling creates the mirage of an endless stack of books going on forever. #trippy
aMAZEme by Marcos Saboya & Gualter Pupo in London, U.K.
This mesmerizing time lapse video shows the construction of this gargantuan literary labyrinth from the placement of the first book until the opening day. Designed by Brazilian artists Marcos Saboya and Gualter Pupo with production company HungryMan, the maze pays homage to Jorge Luis Borges and his love of mazes. Volunteers meticulously arranged 250,000 books into the shape of the Borges’ fingerprint. The Argentinian writer once said: he did once say: “I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.” Little did he know, that paradise would one day be a book maze shaped like his fingerprint.