Interview: Ricarda Messner on the “Talk To You Later Library”

Ricarda Messner likes browsing through her friends’ bookshelves. This interview is about her new project, the Talk To You Later Library

For me, Ricarda Messner is always the perfect example of a sharp mind, one that doesn’t stand still and is constantly on the lookout for answers to the questions that pop into her clever head. Above all, instead of succumbing to the danger of drowning in dreams, she also DOES and puts her ideas into practice. In doing so, she often creates projects that have never existed before. And as soon as those projects are on their first legs, they elicit the response that something like them absolutely has to exist – and one wonders why nobody has ever thought of it before.

Ricarda Messner has now brought all of her projects together under the title Publishing Dreams. Flaneur, the magazine she founded in 2013 that deals with a particular street in a city, is part of that. She is currently part of the team behind ZEITmagazin’s great newsletter and now, from January 12th until the 14th, she is organizing the Talk To You Later Library with Grisebach. Here, she tells us what it’s all about:

How did the idea for Talk To You Later Library come about?

For me, one of the greatest moments when you’re visiting a friend or acquaintance is looking at their bookshelves. Which books do you have in common? What book could you read next? Then to go one step further and to find out which story had an influence on the other person is something I find much more inspiring and valuable than any kind of literary criticism. This gave rise to the idea of making the private bookcase public.

What’s special about the project?

The “library” is something I associate primarily with my high school and college years. It was the place where you sealed yourself off from the outside world for weeks to learn in peace. I believe that the library could be a great place of everyday peace and quiet for many people, but it would also be great if the selection were more contemporary or less subject-specific. So the project might be able to play with the word “library.” In addition, the collective curation of the reading selection is special, the “we-put-books-on-the-self-together-moment,” and then also to think about this: Which words have done something to me?

Why do we need something like this, in an age like this?

I charmingly call it “the book version of Tinder”: Swipe the pages and see what kind of dialogue between two people can be created by a book. In an age when everything happens so “instantly,” it’s also a practice in patience, waiting two months until the other one has read the book and shares his or her feelings and reactions with you.

Which book did you bring with you yourself, and why?

You can also put several books on the shelf. I think this will be the case with me. The Plague by Camus – he was my first great philosopher, and I read him at the age of 19. I still remember the emotional disorientation I felt at that time very well. I read it while studying with questions in my head like: What is all this? Who am I?! The great theme of absurdity, which the book describes in such a fantastic and also such a simple way, gave me an unbelievable feeling of calm at that time – and I think it effectively replaced many years of therapy (laughs). And then there’s We Love Lucy from Badlands Unlimited. For me, it is the ultimate proof that eroticism and sex can work great without pictures in today’s world.

How might the project go forward in the future?

There is another event in two months at which the books are brought back. Then everyone can pick up his or her book. If it works out well logistically, I’d like to make the project happen more often, maybe even create a fixed-location Talk To You Later Library. I find it exciting – despite the analogy – to translate the concept into digital: a kind of Facebook (“book”, get it?) through which we are only connected by what we read… That could then also be extended to articles, magazines, etc.

Flyer "Talk To You Later Library"

You can visit the Talk To You Later Library from Friday, January 12 until Sunday, January 14, 2018. Additional information can be found on the Villa Grisebach website here as well as on Ricarda Messner’s website here. If you would like to learn more about her projects, you can also follow her Instagram (@ricardamessner).


Talk To You Later Library
Fasanenstraße 27
10719 Berlin

Translation: Melissa Frost
Event Images: Valentina von Klencke

Julia co-founded one of the first fashion blogs in Germany in 2007 and became a freelance consultant for digital strategies after publishing her first book in 2010. After an eventful four years with Condé Nast working mainly in the digital department of Vogue Germany, she decided to launch her own online magazine with her dream partner, Veronika Heilbrunner. She is based in Berlin and loves to read books.