BookShelfLifeJulia Hart

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

  • Cristina Irizarry

    I completely agree! ^_^ Many girls out there might want an expensive purse or pair of shows, but all I want is a nice book shelve. <3

  • Jennifyr Falco

    I love books. My boyfriend wanted to get me an E-Reader because we live in a small space and my books take up a lot of that space, but I said no… I need the physical books with me, I need the pages, the weight, the smell (OH MAN, THE SMELL – HEAVEN). My dream in life is to own a house/apartment/condo that has a room I can turn into a library. I want a fireplace, a huge bookshelf, a comfy chair, an over sized wooden desk… all the attributes of a great library. A place I can curl up and spend all my free time reading.

    A question though, what is that pink and black hardcover book on Claire’s bookshelf?

  • Carleen Guffey Abercrombie

    I am obviously your twin seperated at birth (and probably a few years before you–medical science is a marvel isn’t it?). I think there is no substitute for the actual book. I love to read and I have since run out of room on MY bookshelves. I am now forced to check out books and bring them back to the library. On the books that I just can’t live without, I buy and double stack what is on the shelves already or find new ways to hold them. I have an obession with cookbooks as well, and that bookshelf is full. Now, the floor holds a lovely stack of cookbooks–that I use thank you very much. I have no interest in purchasing an eReader. I continue to get gleefully lost in book stores. I read during my lunch at work and carry a book just in case I am stranded in traffic for long periods of time. Thank you for reminding me that I am not the odd one because I still long for the discovery new books bring. As I am older now and I don’t have to read boring books (my school doesn’t make me do that anymore), I live by the motto “life is too short to read bad books”. My latest mission is to go to the library and start on one aisle–read what I want on that aisle and move to the next. I figure that will at least give me something to do for a year or so.

  • Linda Stalcup McDanel

    I love to read so much that I can’t afford to buy all my books in hardback. So, my bookshelves usually have hardbacks I’ve gotten on sale and aren’t really my favorites…so don’t judge us all by the books on our shelves! My paperbacks comprise many of my most cherished reads, but they are stuffed into three little bookcases in the bonus room most people don’t see! One of my favorite childhood memories is the smell of the books we got to order in school. I couldn’t wait to open my new, sweet smelling book! I miss being able to trade books with the friends who now only read e-books. Thanks for this article…I love seeing so many book lover’s comments, too!

  • Kerry Bazinet

    Your friend Claire has “House of Leaves,” (top shelf, in the middle laying down) borrow it from her if you haven’t already read it!

  • Marie Pav

    I cannot ever explain how much I love this, or how much I can relate. Yay books! <3

  • Chrissa Hardy

    I’m so glad I have a safe place to admit how inappropriate my relationship with books is. I love ‘em love ‘em love ‘em. I have books in deep layers, packed to the gills on my bookshelf. I’ve gotten rid of dvd’s just to fit more books. I have stacks of books in my closet, under, on top of and inside my nightstand. I have a solid stack on the coffee table (that’s where the favs go) and I wouldn’t have it any other way. They are trophies, slices of creativity from the brave soles that wrote them and they are escapes into different times and different worlds. Word nerd fo life!

  • Lin ‘Winton’ Huffman

    @Taylor Wendt, @Julia Hart
    Me too… hello, friends.

  • Katie Kay Snoad

    I LOVE BOOKS! I have bought a book just because it feels right in my hand. I like the idea of ereaders, but having an actual book in your hand beats it every time. My kids will have actual books to read. I can’t wait to have a home where I can fill a room with bookshelves.

  • Ashley Austrew

    I love, love, LOVE books, too, but I disagree that you can get to know a person better by simply looking at their bookshelf or by looking at what they happen to be reading. It’s the interpretation of the ideas inside the books that show you who someone is. I know plenty of people with beautiful shelves full of great books they’ve never read.

  • Frank Fraone

    Me gusta libros! Did I say that right?

  • 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!

    • 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. ;)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Mhairi McCrindle

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

  • 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.

  • Sarah Gollhofer

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

    • Julia Hart Horowitz

      That means a lot! Thanks SO much!

  • Emma Morton

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

  • Shereen Hussain

    I LOVE the smell of book shops

  • 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.

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

    • Julia Hart Horowitz

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

Need more Giggles?
Like us on Facebook!