BookShelfLife

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

  • http://www.facebook.com/BookWyrm1025 Sonya Smith

    I. Love. Books. Ever since I was 5 and reading all the classic fairy tales (not Disney) and Reader’s Digest (don’t ask). My addiction for books though, started when I was 14 and found the Hawkmistress by Marion Zimmer-Bradley. From that moment to this, every time I read a book, I am transported to another land, another world, another place and time. The magic of words that can paint pictures in peoples’ minds…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1371372953 Taylor Wendt

    I actually just wrote a post recently with some very similar points. Love this! Could not agree more! http://fancifulwanderings.blogspot.com/2011/08/old-books-make-me-swoon.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=681144011 Alyssa Olszewski

    I love this! My bookcase is stacked two rows deep in some places but I still arranged it in a way to showcase my favorites. I’ve even gone to the extreme of “decorating” my room with stacks of books on the floor because there was no where else to put them! http://twitpic.com/65ax67

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=103854 Julia Hart Horowitz

      Looks awesome! Love the vintage train case on top.

  • http://www.facebook.com/amanda.bladh Amanda Bladh

    I completely agree that the first thing to do when visiting someone is to checkout their bookshelves! (Also, when someone is visiting me I always try to get them to borrow at least one of my books!) I used to borrow loads of books from the library, and I still borrow a few now and then, but there’s nothing like the feeling to have finished a book and then go to your bookshelf to try and find the perfect place for it (it’s addicting)! Almost every time I buy a new book I organize my bookshelf in a different way, I just find it very soothing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=702485203 Marita Berg

    This is so true! I have books literally everywhere in my home, and i LOVE it! Reading a book, is the best get-away from reality for a while. I don’t think I’ll ever trade away my bookshelfs for eBook, but hey, if it gets more people to read, I guess it’s allright!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Sarah.g.davis Sarah Davis

    I was a bookseller for about 6 years and in that time, I bought books as only an addict can, the result being that this weekend, as I move, I have 8 boxes of personal effects, 5 bags of clothes and bedthings, and over 30 boxes of books. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. At one point we had a signing with Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Shutter Island). It was my job to keep him company until showtime (swoon) and I brought up ebooks. He said something along the lines of “I don’t worry about books – between readers and interior decorators, they’ll live forever.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002559557897 Benthe van Wanrooij

    I can look at (pictures of) bookshelves for hours.

  • http://www.facebook.com/amdanz Anna Danz

    I ran out of room in my bookshelf. So now I have a stack of books that’s almost as tall as I am (5’6″) sitting on my floor!

  • http://www.facebook.com/cassieopiab Cassie Bergman

    I believe you borrowed my brain to write this article :). I loved every singe word; people think I’m addicted to books, I just tell them I’m in love.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1435073634 Crystal Brezina

    I love that the bookshelves pictured second has different levels. Also, that cookbook in the bottom left section of Claire’s bookshelf looks exactly like my mom’s, except that it probably doesn’t have an iron burn on the back!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kbromfield2 Kelly Bromfield

    I have a love affair with books myself. Hardcover and vintage books are my weakness. I must say it’s reassuring to know that there are other people who believe in the beauty of a “real” book as opposed to looking at a screen on a Kindle or Nook. And no matter how the new Kindle commercials try to convince me that I don’t need a big purse to hold my books, or need to go to the bookstore, I like my big purses AND bookstores!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1410414679 Maddie McManus

    I too love the look of a book on a shelf. Add more books to the lone tome, and it’s nothing but aesthetic bliss! Like you, I teach English, and I’d love to share an image of my classroom library. Each time I look at it, my teeth ache from gnashing them together in books-make-my-heart-thump intensity.

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_kFh3BhNw0bE/TRaXh8I243I/AAAAAAAAOlQ/TQki_j9f4k4/s1600/DSC_0022.jpg

    {The snapshot is courtesy of the lovely Lauren of Dear Golden Vintage}

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=103854 Julia Hart Horowitz

      That’s in your classroom?! That’s so awesome. What do grades do you teach?

  • http://www.facebook.com/shereenhussain Shereen Hussain

    I LOVE the smell of book shops

  • http://www.facebook.com/emmatakesaphotograph Emma Morton

    Check out this website: http://bookshelfporn.com/ I can look at it for hours! Great article, I took look at peoples bookshelves to learn what kind of person they are!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=511826480 Sarah Gollhofer

    This is my favorite HelloGiggles article EVER. I love, love, love real books!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=103854 Julia Hart Horowitz

      That means a lot! Thanks SO much!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659845056 Laura E

    I couldn’t agree with you more, and I totally poured my heart out about books for an interview I had to do to get into this Library course, I am taking for school. I think it is one of the reasons I want to work in a library, books are a piece of art as well as entertainment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mhairi.mccrindle Mhairi McCrindle

    My goal in life is to have packed bookshelves along every wall of my home.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509672802 Christine Innes

    I totally relate to this… I’m just starting to try out Ebooks on the kindle and can only hope that I enjoy the stories as much as I would if i had the actual book in hand.

  • http://www.facebook.com/juliagazdag Julia Gazdag

    I agree so much my heart could burst. I don’t feel at home unless I’m surrounded by books. I’ve spent ridiculous time and money moving them with me around the country several times, and without a doubt it was worth it. I don’t get e-books. Screens aren’t visceral the way pages are. Just… yeah. Everything you wrote.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=103854 Julia Hart Horowitz

    Thank you all for the wonderful comments, links and pics! Glad you enjoyed the piece and even more glad that you enjoy books!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1371372953 Taylor Wendt

      I just was talking to a friend the other day and they said they don’t like to read. I genuinely felt bad for her and it was one of those awkward moments where I had no idea what to say. 😉

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