Friday, May 14, 2010

At home on the shelves

by Lauren

One of my deepest home decor desires is to line my walls with bookcases.  I grew up in a house where bookshelves were everywhere you looked, but New York City apartment living isn't necessarily ideal for the literary pack rat in me.  I'm probably not going to fulfill my dreams of Beauty and the Beast-style rolling ladders any time soon. 

That said, I've happily just added a new bookcase to my collection, so for right now, my shelves just barely hold all the books in my apartment, so long as I don't bring home the stacks of books obscuring the window by my desk here or the ones boxed up at my mom's.  The box of Babysitter's Club books I just bought from a stoop sale (Books #1-44 plus various specials for $20!  A total bargain!) really ate up all the space I had left after moving the floor stacks onto the bookcase.

So when I read the comments on Rachel's post last week, I was envious of the enormous size of your to-be-read piles.  Those numbers don't count all the already-read books you probably possess!  Do any of you have a real personal library?  Or walls upon walls lined with shelves?  Just massive stacks threatening to topple?  Books strewn about here and there, to be picked up on a whim?

I'm a big fan of the New Yorker's Book Bench blog's 1,000 Words feature, where people send photos of books out in the wild, so I'm asking you, dear readers, to send photos of your lovingly curated or totally ramshackle collections.   Email your photo as an attachment to with the subject line "Book Shelves", and then comment below to tell us about your personal library!  We'll feature some of our favorite photos here on the blog—and I'll see if I can't convince some of my colleagues to share their own images.  The person who sends in my favorite photo (or the first person to demonstrate their ownership of the enviable rolling bookshelves) will get a copy of something from my bookshelves--making room for me to bring home the copy of Sebastian Junger's War I just got.


  1. I, too, dream of Beauty and the Beast style bookshelves. I wish I could have a home library, complete with wall to wall bookshelves and comfy reading chairs, perhaps a coffee maker available for the books that keep you up late into the night.

    For now, I just shove all my books anywhere they will go. They are double and triple layered in the bookshelves I have and boxed up in closets. I'm running out of room, so I'm going to have to start hosting more giveaways.

  2. I need to buy another bookshelf soon, but I have not yet reached the much-desired Beauty and the Beast style. I too dream of rolling ladders.


  3. We have dubbed our formal living room "The Reading Room". The room features the comfiest seating in the house and about five or six hundred of our favorite books. They're all haphazardly stacked and stuffed into three large, library-style bookcases. But no "official" library, though.

    One of these days....

  4. Ooh, jealous! I loved BSC back in the day! My sis-in-law sent me a news story last month about the books being re-released...prequel, updated hair-styles, etc, etc. I guess kids nowadays just can't appreciate big bangs and pegged jeans...oh to Washington Post story below with the full scoop:

  5. I used to have this exact dream. I wanted high ceilings and books EVERYWHERE, in every room.

    Now? I want every book on an e-reader. I'd be happy if I could reduce my book ownership to 100% digital -- with a safe backup somewhere -- so I could scale down the clutter and make it easier to move, travel, and find what I need.

  6. I have a bit over 120' of books in shelves (not counting my wife's books which add a comparatively paltry 20' to the total). There's not much room for growth and my wife has been after me to prune my library (if it were up to me, I'd just buy more shelves). I remember in a previous apartment (before I was married), standing on the back porch and looking through the window into my bedroom (not realizing I was seeing my own apartment) and thinking how cozy the room looked with the stack of books on the nightstand and the bookcases on the wall behind the bed.

  7. I'll have to wait until I publish that 'world's greatest' book that will sell hundreds upon hundreds of copies before I can buy the house that will hold all the books I plan to some day buy. Right now...we have moved SOOO many times that many of my books (sadly enough) remain in boxes, until I can't stand it any longer and rush to get my dear sweet beloved books to read and cherrish all over again.

    Of course I don't have a picture...yet =), but I just saw today a blogger who had a terrific storage plan for her books ( she doesn't mind me using her blog on here, but I thought it was really cute!) She uses paper boxes or something to store them in at the moment. Amanda J. is her name and her blog is called 'Ramblings of a Drifting Mind'.

  8. I so want rolling ladders. Right now we've turned a spare bedroom into a library. Any shelf with paperbacks is shelved two deep and two high. The other three bedrooms have bookcases, as does my office, and the family room, the front room, the dining room. The only rooms in our house that don't have bookcases are the bathrooms and the laundry room. Hmmm.

  9. We've got plenty of bookshelves in our flat back in the U.K., but where we're living, we've got only teetering piles stacked up on shelves. I'll send a photo, though. Maybe that will shame my family into tidiness.

  10. Aww!! I should have taken a wide view of my library before we dismantled it! No, we didn't have rolling ladders that I, like everyone else here, dream of having, but I did have my stepping stool placed discreetly behind a door in case I needed to get something from the top two shelves.

    I can show you a photo of the 36 medium size boxes filled with books that we plan on shipping with other stuff in a container back to France if you like! I had shipped a third of my books from France to our "private beach" and now we're shipping much more back to Paris.

    The only photo that I can send gives somewhat of an idea as to how it looked, it's just one portion, however, but I guess it's better than nothing.

  11. Here's my library, which was featured this year at the Robot 6 comic book website. Critic Heidi MacDonald linked to the post and said that they inspired "envy and despair", which has become a catchphrase around the house.

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