Friday, May 28, 2010

Building enough bookshelves

by Lauren

“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” Anna Quindlen
While I can’t speak for Anna Quindlen’s children, I think that those of us here seem to have gotten it right! Thanks to everyone who sent in their bookshelf photos. I’ll start here with mine, and then follow me after the jump for some from DGLM agents and blog readers!!

As I mentioned, I added a new bookcase to the family recently, so the first is haphazardly organized and covered in knickknacks, photos, and mementos. The second actually has some organization to it: Baby-sitters Club and Little House books on the bottom; galleys in the middle; and the top shelf is a combination of books I represent (which I really have to get better about bringing home, because there’s a lot missing), books I sell rights for, and books I’m eager to read that are ready to move up to the majors: the bedside table pile. I actually moved the bedside table pile on top of the bookcase for photo purposes—that’s the pile on the left that’s topped with my brand new Room by Emma Donoghue galley. Those are the books I’m in the middle of or desperate to read next. The pile beside it are the books that I don’t own (though some of those are intermingled elsewhere as well) and have to remember to read and give back. At a glance, it seems about half of those are Jim’s!

Miriam and Stacey kindly took photos for me of some of their books—and they’re delightful for totally different reasons.

Miriam’s I love for the display table, which is an idea I’ve already stolen for my dream library with the rolling ladders.

Stacey’s I love because they’re not bookshelves at all. Having moved in the not too distant past and with 4 young kids at home, Stacey’s books actually currently live in a closet. Something about the haphazard stacks makes me think of used bookstores, and I kind of want to stop by her house and flip through to see what’s there.

We also got some great photos from you guys, so I’m putting my favorites up here:

Mary Witzl sent her photo in part as a call to action. Bonus points for the adorable cat sneaking into the photo!

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.

Alice Pope sent us one of eight (jealous!!).

Here is one of eight bookcases on my house, this one mostly dedicated to picture books. I have a 2 YA/MG bookcases, a nonfiction bookcase, a cookbook bookcase, an adult fiction bookcase, a classics bookcase, and the boy's bookcase full of PBs, board books and Captain Underpants.

(He only reads things from my PB shelves under close supervision.) :)

And yet...there are still piles of books on the floor of every room and a 2 rather precarious piles on my nightstand. Think I should get a Kindle?
Lynn sent a jealousy inducing photo of one small part of her personal library—not only does the shelving shown far exceed my paltry bookcases, but the full library can’t be viewed because the books have to be shipped back from her “private beach” to Paris!

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.
Vicki sent us her two bookcases and dresser-top collection, firmly refusing to get on board with my bookshelf envy. I should learn to be so zen. My favorite part of these photos is how cozy the stuffed animals look nestled in among the books. It’s like a book forest.

Just two bookcases in my room, but I think I have enough room for what I need. As you can see, the shelving on the left is much more spread out, so it still has a lot of room to expand. Plus I still have the tops of both bookcases.

I also have a shelf of writing-related books and my HP collection on my dresser. I'll be very worried if I run out of room completely.
Though Bill Peschel isn’t helping, because he sent this link to a blog feature about his personal library, which inspires “envy and despair,” as critic Heidi MacDonald so rightly put it.

Thanks to you all for sharing, and I’m mentally filing away some ideas for when I have endless space and money (that day will come, right?). As for the winner, it’s a very tough call, but I have to say that Lynn’s mere fragment of her library so dwarfs my collection and comes closest to my dream library—and she even has a step stool from which she might someday be able to upgrade to rolling ladders—so congratulations! Drop me a line at to tell me what sort of books you enjoy, and I’ll send you something to add to your already impressive collection!


  1. These photos are all absolutely amazing, Lauren, thanks for such a great idea! I think most of them pretty much cover my dream of having this many bookcases (and, obviously, the rolling ladders).

    Right now I'm still stuck in a university room with too many books to fit on the meagre shelves. We do have about four bookshelves at my parents' house, because we are a reading-obsessed family. My mother even has one of those swiveling bookcases.

  2. There are NEVER enough bookshelves! If it wasn't for the husband and kids, I can picture myself dying like one of those hoarders who get crushed beneath a collapsed stack of something they couldn't part with. God, I hope my favorites are in that stack :-D. Great pics!

  3. Love that quote from Anna Quindlen!

  4. Thanks so much, Lauren, for choosing my photo!!! We are leaving in a few days back to France, but I'll contact you as soon as I can! (I can't wait to reassemble my library!!!)

  5. Lynn's is definitely a winner. Mine reach the ceiling, but only because they're seven feet tall.

    And libraries always look better with cats in them.

  6. Beautiful. There's only one problem with the quote--there are NEVER enough bookshelves. :)

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