The Joy of Books

As an avowed bibliophile, I sometimes post about other people’s bookshelves and libraries (my last post of this topic can be found here). Well, I have two updates on that topic today.

First up is a phenomenal video that a married couple and a team of helpers put together about what happens in bookstores at night when no one is around. (Can you imagine how much effort went into this short video?)

And second is an excellent Tumblr feed that calls itself simply “Bookshelf Porn.” Nothing pornographic about it, of course, but if you love images of books, then this is the place for you.

Check them out!

20 celebrity libraries

Part X of my ongoing love affair with well-designed private libraries. I’ve posted about creative design of bookshelves on a couple occasions previously: here and here). In keeping with that theme, here’s a link to a great article showcasing twenty private libraries owned by celebrities.

Diligent readers — okay, only diligent readers possessing an eidetic memory) will note that I’ve posted about Karl Lagerfeld’s library before, but most of the rest were new to me. I really like some of these, though a few appear to be cases where the owner has never actually read any of the books, and were clearly designed by a book or art consultant, which kind of bugs me (Oprah Winfrey’s library, ironically, appears to fall into this category). Jimmy Stewart’s looks just like every old lady’s library I’ve ever been in, and Mark Twain’s looks like a fin-de-siecle whorehouse, but I like most of the rest. Sadly, Nigella Lawson’s library looks pretty much just like my own, with nicer bookshelves. Alas. I feel your pain, Nigella. The crown jewel of the article is, of course, William Randolph Hearst’s library. An additional photo of his private library is available here.

Gifts for bookworms

Well, aside from the obvious — books, of course — here’s a British site (courtesy of my wife) that has a huge array of items that booklovers of all kinds would like. I especially like a couple of the t-shirts (“Careful or you’ll ed up in my novel,” “Hollywood: Ruining the Book Since 1915,” and “Unreliable Narrator.”)

Or, if you really love the bibliophile in your life, you could buy them a house made out of bookshelves.

Creative bookshelves

I’ve posted about bookshelves before. They fascinate me, as I find the physicality and aesthetics of books as artifacts and art to be very important, almost as important as their content. (I know I’m not alone in this, and that’s one reason why eBooks will never fully replace books for folks like me.) I think that my wife first realized how much I love books — and how crazy I am — when I bought a copy of Henry Petroski’s The Book on the Bookshelf. She was in disbelief that even I would be interested in such a book. (To be honest, this book is also evidence of another book-related problem I have: though I bought it years ago, I have yet to read it, but I really do mean to read it some day.)

Bookshelves are also a constant source of frustration for me because I don’t have enough to properly display my books. I have a bunch of cheap bookshelves, as well as a few nice built-in bookshelves in my home, but far too many of my books have to be boxed-up right now because there’s no room for them. And that’s why I’m always envious of private libraries where the owner has managed to create a really special environment for books and reading. I’ve come across a compilation of twenty really neat, creative bookshelf configurations. I’ve seen one or two of these before (the Pac-Man one, for instance), but it’s a really nice set.

And speaking of some people who are in desperate need of bookshelves, creative or otherwise, here’s a couple that has acquired what they say are 350,000 books. They’ve had a second house trucked in to house them (why not get a barn or shed or something instead?), but now that house is being crushed under the weight of the books. To be honest, I doubt they actually have 350,000 books. We have 6,000 books in our home, and know how much space and weight those take up. I also know someone who has 30,000 books stored in a separate house, and those basically fill up that entire building. Suffice it to say, they have a lot of books.

Two pieces on bookshelves

Here are two recent, unrelated pieces on bookshelves. The first is a light, fluff (but interesting) article on “the future of bookshelves in the home.” In an age where more people are going to have fewer physical books in their homes, we will probably see fewer bookshelves in homes. Eventually. As the article points out, the trend is new and hasn’t influenced home architecture yet, but the piece does provide some neat discussions of some people’s really nice home libraries.

The second piece is a short article that provides a link to a collection of photos of library bookshelves in Japan. To be sure, the book-related aspect of the tragedy that Japan is experiencing is nothing compared with the human dimension, but the library photos help illustrate the magnitude of the earthquake’s effects — imagine a force powerful enough to throw every book off a library’s shelves simultaneously. (Here’s a direct link to a Google-translated page of the photo collection.)