Friday, October 2, 2009

Things for People Who Don't Like Things

Decorating with Books! I love books and I also love decorating with books, so you may well ask how this fits in with the 'people who don't like things' theme. Well, lately I've seen several articles in popular home magazines and segments on home shows about decorating with books, but the crux seems to be that books are not to be read, just scattered about the house. In other words, it's aimed at people who don't like books. Not that there's anything wrong with this, but it seems a shame to have a houseful of books if you don't enjoy reading them. I mean, you wouldn't have a stuffed deer head unless you're a hunter (and perhaps not even then, unless you're single and live in a cabin . . .) or have a mirror if you're a vampire.

Look at these great rooms from the 2005 Kips Bay Decorator Show House. Each one was created by a different designer and shows how beautifully books can enhance a room. (I hesitate to mention it, but if you look closely at the upper left edge of the first photo you can see a bit of the light fixture - it's an antler chandelier, so perhaps my deer head argument is not that sound . . .)

The fact that three rooms from the Show House have books playing an important role shows how useful they are when decorating. But, that does not preclude them having another purpose: to be read.

I think my issue with this decorating advice has been that it's assumed you don't want to read the books, that you don't like the books aside from their antique leather spines or perfect size that matches three others under the big lamp. (Remember the old adage about judging a book? You have to look inside to find out what's great, or not so great, about it.) One article suggested organizing your books by color - so one shelf has all the books with green spines and one the pink. If you have lots of books that will never work - let's see, is Pride and Prejudice on the shelf with Sense and Sensibility . . . no, it's with the other blue books, right between The Tipping Point and 1776. Perhaps you could view books much the way you view your children - you keep them around because you love them, not because they look good in the living room. It's a bonus if they also add to the decor . . .

If you're a book lover who wants to find better ways to live with your books, you'll enjoy these reads:

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman

This small collection of essays about the author's book collection, favorite books, and the difficulties of combining her library with her husband's, is enjoyable and you will relate to her passion for books and reading.

At Home with Books: How Booklovers Live with and Care for Their Libraries by Estelle Ellis and Caroline Seebohm

A beautiful book with good advice for bibliophiles with growing collections. In addition to expert information on caring for and displaying books, you will also get an inside view of how famous book collectors live with their prizes - including Keith Richards (yes, the Rolling Stone!).

I hope you have time to settle down with a good book this weekend. As for me, I'm off to rearrange my books!

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