There are few things in this world that I love as much as I love books. And when I say that, I’m talking about two things. The first thing is the content. I love stories, characters, sentences, words, commas, periods, photographs, drawings – all of it. And then there’s the actual book, the physical, tangible entity that is BOOK.
Here is an ode to the second thing, The Actual BOOK:
I love the way they look. I love the way they feel in my hands. I love that feeling when the weight shifts from the left to the right and you know the end is near and you’re excited and sad at the same time. I love seeing a stranger reading a book. I feel like seeing what they are reading makes them not as much of a stranger anymore. I love the smell of new books. I live for the smell of old books. I love collecting books. I love buying books. I love borrowing and lending books. Don’t even get my started on libraries! I love writing in books – I believe it makes them more loved, not less. I love buying old books and finding other people’s notes in them. I once found a sketch of Teddy Roosevelt dated 1920 in an old copy of A Little Princess. Actual books carry so much more history than their story and the life of their author. They carry the history of everyone who has ever read them and there is something so thrilling about that idea. About all of these people reading that same copy of that same book generation after generation. And now I have goose bumps.
I love bookshelves. As far as I’m concerned, bookshelves are a huge point of pride. To me, they are sort of what I imagine a wall of heads is to a hunter. My bookshelf shows the world my conquests, my game. When I was little I sat in front of my family friend’s bookshelf and I asked him “Which ones have you read?” And he simply replied “All of them.” I was in awe. I wanted to be him when I grew up. Here’s a picture of that bookshelf:
One of the first things I like to do when I go to someone’s house is check out their bookshelves. I think they say a lot about a person. What books do they have? How do they organize them? What else is on the shelves? Where in their home are the shelves? And the questions go on from there…
And of course, this all leads me to eBooks. Personally, they just don’t do it for me. I need two things in my hands: a real man and a real book. However, I know in my heart eBooks have made more people read more. And that makes me incredibly happy. So, have your eBooks, but here’s my plea: only have them for one of the things we talk about when we talk about books: the CONTENT. Please don’t ever lose the art and the beauty and the history that is an actual BOOK.
So, before you consider those out of date piles of paper as trash, think about how you can honor thousands of years of the publication of words beautiful and strange and the binding of books: make your bookshelf a work of art.
That picture at the top of the page is my bookshelf. Well, it’s my special books bookshelf. I have lots of bookshelves, but that one is for specials ones.
Here are a few other artful bookshelves:
This is my friend Claire’s bookshelf. Other than it being filled with beautiful books, one of my favorite things about it is that it’s in her kitchen. Books, food and Claire?! In the same room?! HEAVEN!
This one belongs to my friends Brian and Alex. I love that it’s a place for books and darts. I imagine this bookshelf has seen a lot of fun, late nights.
This bookshelf belongs to my former student, Augusta. And yes, she is the coolest person ever.
This last bookshelf belongs to my friends Helen and Zach. To me, this is exactly what bookshelves should be. It’s right there in the main room of their effortlessly stylish home. I love spending nights by the fire, Helen, Zach and their books.
“Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house.” Henry Ward Beecher