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Eilam Gross, professor of physics at the Weizmann Institute and musician, Rehovot

Eilam Gross, professor of physics at the Weizmann Institute and musician, Rehovot

  • Estimated number of books: "Several hundred. Before my father died (when I was 12 years old), we had thousands of books. But we sold many of them to the antiquarian bookseller M. Pollak."

  • Main genres: "Science, photography, art, poetry and the occult."

  • Languages: "Hebrew and English."

  • Method of organization: "A mess. Since moving in four years ago, I still haven't managed to organize the books."

  • Lending policy: "No way."

  • Most recent acquisitions: "'The God Delusion,' by Richard Dawkins, and 'The Wind-up Bird Chronicle,' by Haruki Murakami."

  • The oldest volume in the library: "Jabotinsky's book of poems with the wonderful translation of Edgar Allan Poe's 'Annabel Lee': 'It was many and many a year ago,/ In a kingdom by the sea, / That a maiden there lived whom you may know / By the name of Annabel Lee; / And this maiden she lived with no other thought / Than to love and be loved by me.'"

  • Unique collection: "Large-format art books, like Frank Zollner's 'Botticelli' and 'Leonardo,' Jan Saudek's complete photography collection and Hiroshige's '100 Views of Edo.'"

  • The book that you haven't managed to finish: "Oh, well, obviously, Jonathan Littell's 'The Kindly Ones.'"

  • Your favorite writers: "Until I grew up, it was Pinchas Sadeh, who was replaced by Yehuda Amichai, who was replaced by Yona Wallach, and - among all of them - Oscar Wilde has remained. In the area of science, Richard Feynman, and I really like the writings of Stephen Hawking or whoever writes for him: eloquent and enchanting."

  • The book that attracted you to your field: "'The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism,' by Fritjof Capra."

  • Your favorite books in the library: "First of all, Tim Burton's 'The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy, and Other Stories.' I bought it for my daughters eight years ago; today it is only available in English. I also love the photography books of Saudek and Robert Mapplethorpe."

  • Books you're most likely to return to: "'The Illustrated New Musical Express Encyclopedia of Rock,' the 1976 edition, an album format with historical photos of records and groups. A rare item for music lovers. In general, every time I have a few minutes to myself, I grab an art book or book of popular science and read a chapter."

  • A book that you want but are unable to obtain: "Alexander Penn's book of poetry, which came out in a luxurious edition many years ago. I think it was called 'Was It Ever,' and its cover was brown. I bought it as a gift for a very good friend. Since then my friend is gone, the book is gone and I haven't been able to get my hands on another copy in good condition."

  • Your favorite line in one of the books in your library: "From Tolstoy's 'War and Peace,' Prince Andrei speaking to Natasha on his deathbed: 'Love hinders death. Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.'"