Procrastinating Taxes By Looking at Other People's Libraries

I find myself, on this last day before taxes are due, being pulled not to the mathematics of deductions, but to the Internet's vast array of library images – naturally. Big, beautiful bookshelves full of disheveled (or appealingly staged) books. And I think to myself, with a small sense of urgency, I should really organize my books. 

An enviable bookshelf with room.
In this epically manic attempt at procrastination, I searched the web for inspiration and guidance, and I come across an article – with pictures – about readers and their home libraries. Some of the libraries have 250 books and I sarcastically think to myself 'how sweet,' before I realize that it is actually pretty sweet. Other libraries on display have 2,000 books. One of the pictures displays a bookcase that has room for knickknacks that I find myself secretly envying. Other pictures show bookcases like mine that are chock-a-block full of books. 

You shouldn't really stack books unless you
regularly rotate them.
At the end of the article is the 'More like this' section listing the headline: "How to Care for Your Home Library." I click on it because, of course, I want to know if I am doing it right. 

I am not. According to the article, I should first declutter my bookshelves, then I should order my books in either rainbow colors or by theme. For my larger books, it says, I should support them properly and it shows a beautifully staged picture of horizontally stacked books. And I begin to suspect that this article is not written by a bibliophile but by a designer.

In addition to organizing my books by color or by theme, I am supposed to rotate the books to "spark new interest," or display books with their covers facing out (like a bookstore) to "increase engagement with [my] home library." In all honesty, I don't know many book lovers or book collectors that need to increase engagement with their library.

Books with fore edges facing out might
be a cool design trick, but how do you
find the book you're looking for?
Along the same lines, I do not understand why people would turn their books around so the fore edge faces out (unless it's painted) or cover their books with white or brown paper. My preference is to see my books. If you cover them or turn them around, how do you find the book you're looking for?

To be fair, there is a small section buried in the middle of the article stating that books should be kept out of direct sunlight, not packed too tightly on shelves, and that you should wash your hands before handling them (which unless your hands are just filthy doesn't really help as it's the oils in your hands, not so much the dirt, that you're wanting to protect your collection from). 

Carl Sandburg's study.
All snarky-ness aside, I love looking at other people's bookshelves to see how they value & treat their books. I love the artist's whose books are well-worn tools for insight and inspiration, and I love the avid readers whose bookshelves overflow into stacks on the floor. When we visited Carl Sandburg's house a few years ago, I fell in love with his floor to ceiling bookshelves and books covering the desks. It was absolute heaven to be standing in that space, surrounded by his inspirations. 

As I'm a bookshelf voyeur, it's only fair that I share my living room bookshelf. (I'm seriously contemplating a pull-down screen and projector so I can free up that TV space for more bookshelves).

Okay, taxes are calling. Hope you all are having a good weekend!


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