21 Nov 2011

The Home Library

One of the few exciting things to come out of the January floods was the recent realisation that we could turn our guest room into a library. We'll still want to be able to accommodate family and friends mind you, but freed from the constraints of existing furniture, we'll be able to do that with a sofa bed, and let's face it - every good library needs a sofa to snuggle into anyhow, so that's an advantage, not a problem.

We already have lots of bookshelves, of course. You can see some of them here. Up top is the study shelf. It houses literature and poetry and cookery books. You can see another photo of that one here. It's pretty big, but it is also very full. But wait - there's more! There are two 5x5 Expedits in Jemimah's room. One is for picture books. the other is for children's literature. That one is below. And one 5x5 Expidit in the Sitting Room. It's full of books on the Decorative Arts - textiles and gardens and interior decoration and Japanese aesthetics and crochet. That's the pic above. And a 2x12 in the study. It's for reference books and for books on books and art books. And a smaller one in our bedroom. Christian books and my 'to be read' pile. There are cookery books in the kitchen, of course, and there's a built in bookshelf in the loo. As you do...don't you? Short stories and magazines there mostly.

Still there are piles. Piles and piles and piles of books. Much loved but without a home to call their own. And without a home they're hard to find. And I don't like being unable to lay my hand on just the book I'm looking for just when I want it.

When you take into account the fact that each year of AO adds an extra metre or so of books just on its own, the homeless problem is just going to get worse and worse (or is that better and better?) Hence the idea of the library.

I'd love my book room to look like this:

Then again, Brazenhead is really the antithesis of the wabi sabi style we adhere to in our Peaceful Home, and would probably drive my family half mad. I'm more likely to end up with a neat room, I think. Lately I've been pouring over my copy of At Home with Books. Subtitled How booklovers live with and care for their libraries, this lovely book - one of my favourites - was first published in 1995, and contains photographs of some of the most beautiful private libraries on the planet. This is my definition of an inspirational book.

I have plenty of time to dream and to plan. We have many many tasks to complete before my book room will come to fruition. Walls to straighten and replaster and paint. Carpet to lay. Doors to replace. Still, dreaming of my book room is giving me lots and lots of pleasure. Imagine - a library of my very own.

I am not naive enough that I do not recognise the imminent demise of the printed book. Mine is likely to be the last generation that venerates paper books like I do, I realise that. Still, for me the printed book will always reign supreme. I love my iPad and Kindle, but for me the pleasure I get from pouring over the pages of At Home with Books can not yet be replicated by either of my e-book readers. The videos of Brazenhead come close though.

What about you? How do you store your books? My fellow biblioholic friend, Erin, has one of the most beautiful libraries I've ever seen. I've been pouring over her blog as well. Here's the link if you too want to covet. Do you have a library that I need to peruse? If so, please do share the link. I'd so love to have a gander. Do you think printed books will survive? Have they already been usurped in your home? Come and talk to me - chatting about books is one of my very favourite pastimes. I really, really do want to hear what you have to say.


  1. wow, a whole room for a library, my eyes are green with envy right now, such heaven!!! :-)

  2. Lovely. Just wondering if you ever loan out any of your books? I am making a list for Jolene but we won't be able to buy all of them.

    She is at a Year 2 reading level so we will work on the corresponding book list form Ambleside.

    I would be willing to come for a visit to pick them up :-)

  3. I dunno if it's a good thing or not yet - but over the last couple of years I totally decimated my library to the fine pickings that are left. Some days I am wistful over the loss, but then, I dunno, there's got to be a good thing about off loading a trillion words - right?

    I do love the look of your library. :o) and Erins too. LOL

  4. I cannot WAIT till we have a library one day...their are seasons for all things! xxx

  5. I love books and can't wait for a large bookshelves to be built for me - some day soon I hope. Yours look lovely.

  6. Jeanne
    You didn't think I could resist commenting did you?:)
    Love, love the pics of your library and your books, some of those are most familiar:) such as the dust jacketed Billabong books.
    Here is some more library pics for you:) http://pinterest.com/erin72/library/
    Thank you for your kind words re my library. Had a friend over today, she came to borrow a huge bag of Convict Australian era. Thought of you and how you would love to be with us:)

  7. Oh and I;ve been meaning to add, you quite depress me with talk of paperless books:( boo hoo.

  8. Your library sounds splendid!
    did you loose all the beautiful furniture and things from the guest room? Sob.

  9. Yep. All gone. We basically lost all of our furniture everywhere, in fact. Did you not realise that?

  10. Hm...yes, no, not sure. I knew you lost all the big furniture. I remember you saying you saved the lovely crockery and perhaps I thought you had managed to get other stuff to high ground. The books escaped then?

  11. I'm not sure print will totally disappear. It still has a darned loyal following. And, I remember when Microfiche was the answer! Still, like you, I'm realistic.

    I LOVE your books!!! Except for my Great Grandmothers table, I'd save my books right after my kids and pets. I can't imagine all that you and your husband still face in rebuilding, yet I know there are STILL families her living in FEMA trailers too small for many folks to go camping in. Hang on to your vision!

    Seriously Jeanne--ever consider being a librarian? I could see you working in rare books or in an Art Museum library!

  12. Probably my favorite post to date. I LOVE browsing peoples' book shelves. Have you ever read the introduction to The Little Book Room?

  13. Your home (yes, still) and your books are so beautiful!

    Tracey has a pretty nice library set-up in her home: http://homeschoolblogger.com/littlemen/2011/02/the-big-bookshelf-boogie-shuffle/

  14. I had a lovely library in our first house, which featured a whole entire wall of built-in shelving. Here, I have a few small bookshelves that are bursting. I would really like another built-in wall unit. I need more shelves, but then what would I do with our wall maps?

    As far as digital books usurping paper, both my daughters prefer actual books to readers. So perhaps our generation is not quite the last to revere "real" books after all.

  15. Ruby, the books on the bottom shelves were ruined, but there were not too many of those, I am glad to say.

    Sadly, we were away the weekend of the flood, so things that could have been raised were not...

  16. thank you for all the lovely meditations on housing books.

    we just moved, and i enjoyed picking up several *new* (to me) book shelves off craigslist. we now have a cabinet bookshelf (complete w/ a key) where I keep my children's books so that only i can re-house them ... by category. i keep a rotation of books out for them, and I also select what i read to them.

    it's been wonderful, but we're bursting at the seams so I'd been thinking I need to get rid of more books. (my husband and I have our fair share.) this post has re-inspired me to keep them, and just make sure i have a home for them as you say ... i completely agree w/ the sentiments about wanting a book when i want it. searching is a waste of time.

    i've actually accumulated so many shelves now, that while we don't have a room solely dedicated to books (although our family room is basically that ... shelves and comfy seating and rugs w/ no tv) -- we do have a room dedicated to the children's dressing, complete w/ shelves instead of dressers for storing clothes. they sleep in the other room (except the baby sometimes sleeps in the dressing room).

    thanks for another post that makes me want to cuddle up with a good book.

    oh, and one more note: my family visited Thomas Jefferson's Monticello about a year ago, and we just loved his library. have you seen it? he was a lover of books.

    many blessings ...

  17. Jeanne, I think it was this post that inspired me to do one on our kids' bookshelf.

    You can find it at

    (Keep in mind my oldest is 4.5 yo!)

  18. Oh I just love books and full shelves. Thank you for this entry! Wow look at that book store. Oh I wouldn't want to sell any of them....so I could walk in every morning and look at them...and breathe them in.
    Then again, I love sharing the love :)

  19. Hi i read your post and it was good to read and i would like to recommend you
    sofa cum bed it is a 2 in 1 furniture and offer comfort plus functionality both in one peace and good furniture for you home library must try this.


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