On Books and Shelving

May 4, 2011 § 3 Comments

Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, defeated, or blue, I turn to books. And not necessarily for reading since in such moods I’m often unable to focus. It’s more that I make my way to the nearest book sale, bookstore, library, or someone’s home collection and browse among the aisles, the many spines. It’s calming to be among books.

Personal libraries are especially fun since you can pick up on a person’s interests and taste, get to know someone through how they’ve arrayed their collection. The owning of a book by someone you like becomes a recommendation far more valuable than the aimless perusal, though that too has its merits. By recently browsing friends’ bookshelves, I’ve been introduced to Kate DiCamillo, bonded over well-worn copies of P.G. Wodehouse, and been tempted to pick up Tolstoy in a way no lit professor could have persuaded me.

For virtual browsing pleasure, here are a few book-heavy spaces. I’d love to lounge with a good drink and a good book at any one of these bars in Los Angeles.

The Wellesbourne

I suppose this is the one-up of making forts as kids. A Slovakian artist Matej Kren made this octagonal Book Cell for the Modern Art Center in Lisbon.

Book Cell

How fun to have this bookshelf from Saba Italia! A domestic Alice in Wonderland-esque vibe.

This sacred space in Maastricht is a former Dominican church and current bookstore, designed by Dutch architects Merkx + Girod (and find more fun bookstores/bookshelves at this blog).

Photo by Roos Aldershoff

The Sideways Library coffee shop in New York is–as Megan Tsang found out–just wallpaper, but nonetheless would make me feel right at home in the big city.

Hay-on-Wye in Wales is known for being  “The Town of Books” due to its plentiful bookstores and antique book sales. Google will bring up a list of local bookstores before it brings up local accommodations! I just hope the books at this store have appropriate accommodations in stormy weather.

Castle Books

Closer to home, Paul’s Book Store is the perfect crammed/cozy space for necessary wandering. A friend and excellent photographer, Matt Kirk, explores with his camera here.

And finally, a fun stop-motion animation that happened when two friends decided to reorganize their bookshelf…

(Note added: set to the music of Rodrigo y Gabriela – they keep coming up!)


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§ 3 Responses to On Books and Shelving

  • Laura says:

    Agreed! There’s a disorganized conglomeration of used books across the street from where I work housed in something resembling a barn that I visit when I am feeling the need for therapy of the wandering and perusing type. I have found Father Brown and Flannery O’Connor there, so I feel at least a little at home.

  • Leah says:

    Seriously: our brains this week. In. Sync. On Saturday, instead of going home to work on my 20-page paper, I went to a book sale. After tossing my 15 or so purchases into the front seat of my car, I walked to the library. And picked up six more books. And I realized in the Q-R section that I really didn’t want the books, rather I needed the stacks to calm and soothe. Love. :)

  • Mike Updike says:

    Lovely post. There is nothing quite like finding the right book when in a wrong mood. Here is my wall of books:


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