June 2nd, 2017
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Bringing Back the Book

I’ve been doing some ruthless spring cleaning; it felt like my stuff was closing in on me. When I got to the bookshelves in the living room, I was brought up short—where have all my books gone? Granted, I have stacks and stacks of oversized art and fashion books, but the shelves seem to have been taken over by framed photographs, my childrens’ school projects, candles, indie magazines, and all sorts of random decorative items. Missing are the rows of hardbacks that I raced out to buy and couldn’t wait to read—they are on my Kindle.

This Elle Decor photo of art dealer Kris Ghesquière’s home office in Uruguay inspired me to start buying a few actual books again—ones that I know I’d like to keep. Amazon opened a bookstore in NYC last week, which seemed odd when I first heard about it, but now I get it. And my dear friend just opened the Locust Valley Bookstore —I’m going to help support her new business by refilling my shelves.

Photograph by Ricardo Labougle 

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  • No I love my kindle! Not a lot of space in these parts and hate dusting as opposed to the lack of space there is plenty of dust! However, my favourite thing with a kindle is that moment when reading in bed you finish a book and want to keep on reading. A quick search, a click and there is your next read! I just love it, no need to wait to wait for the bookstore to open, no need to even get out of bed!

    ClaireJune 2nd, 2017  6:03 AM

     
  • From a design aesthetic I love how the painting frames the door – it feels to be such an elegant mood enhancer together with the culture exhibited through the books and their display cabinets.
    I love this.

    RuthJune 2nd, 2017  6:21 AM

     
  • Preston: This is a great post. Thanks for putting it up. (I don’t know if this message is worth sharing…) but, as you may recall, John and I have been working on our farm house in New Hampshire for years now. We have constructed miles of custom bookshelves in the home and I am using our books all over the place (including in the bathroom, sunroom and in an old fireplace.) to describe our life. Books nicely serve as decor pieces and easy to play with. I can’t wait to check out the Locust Valley Bookstore. So glad you mentioned that in the post.

    Kathryn HarlowJune 2nd, 2017  6:22 AM

     
  • I approve!! I love books. I decided long ago I can’t leave them. I will buy them as long as I live. I have them stacked on shelves in our library…I converted our un-used living room to house them. I have the fashion and decorator books stacked throughout the house too. Happy book buying!

    Amy Thorne RichardsonJune 2nd, 2017  6:23 AM

     
  • Nothing beats the feel and smell of a new book. There is something timeless and dare I say it ‘ old fashioned’ about sttting with a book. While I love my iPhone, iPad, laptop etc and completely embrace the digital age…. I’m a firm believer not everything has to be convenient or new… sometimes old and simple is best.

    MelanieJune 2nd, 2017  6:38 AM

     
  • I love the feeling of a real book in my hands. We recently reorganized our books by category, and they’re all over our home. I buy virtually all our books at our local bookstore, as I want it to stay in business. I love browsing there too….so relaxing.

    KathyJune 2nd, 2017  8:22 AM

     
  • Book shelves filled with books add warmth to a room, they invite friends and guests to stay and linger.
    They give an air of mystery and hint of the treasures stored in the minds of people who live in this house.

    SonjaJune 2nd, 2017  8:42 AM

     
  • When I have books on my Kindle, in my opinion, I have books. I love reading and possessing books is a strong impulse, be it an actual bound book or an ebook. I do like to buy and display cook books, craft/ art books, and coffee table books, however, so I do understand the preference one might have between bound books and ebooks.

    AprilJune 2nd, 2017  9:53 AM

     
  • I love real books, I think they are important and in the digital age of being able to make changes without someone realizing it has happened…. too many people wanting to deny too many things. I know, conspiracy nut! Anyway, I like my Kindle too, so much easier for travel, but, if I find a book that I really love, I buy the hard copy as well. And I love bookstores, I can lose time browsing a bookstore!

    StacyJune 2nd, 2017  11:36 AM

     
  • For me, books provide pleasure beyond the story line. I love paper, appreciate a well-chosen font, and after visiting book binding shops in Florence, I have a special value for the craft and process. There are many fine small publishers (look for regional and university presses) that publish, and a talented illustrator’s work is completely lost on electronic screens. Books are quieter in every sense – no brightness jumping off the pages, doesn’t impose on the person sitting next to you in the way a screen does.

    PaulaJune 2nd, 2017  1:32 PM

     
  • . . . I can’t take my eyes off this photo, and thought of many more reasons to ‘bring back the book!’ If you are a lover of literature, charmed by illustration, and appreciate the art of fine writing, then collecting books becomes a hobby like collecting any other form of art. Good antique shows generally have a vendor with gorgeous leather-bound sets of important works or wonderful, single first editions of classics you read as a child. Our son gave me a special, beautiful edition of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ a few Christmases back, and it sits on a special table in our home. It gives me such joy to hold it in my hands, browse it, just to see it as I pass through the house. When we travel, we look for small bookshops with a well-edited collection. Campus towns are famous for good local bookstores, as are great, old cities. We avoid the big box stores, but sometimes, like Amazon, it’s impossible to avoid. I have saved our children’s ‘kid lit’ collections, and maybe one day a grandchild might pull it off the shelf or I might read it with them. The children’s books we have are even more special now, as many are either out of print or deemed ‘inappropriate,’ and the booksellers won’t carry them. Even The Hardy Boys has had a rewrite! Our son read this series from his grandpa’s copies, all first editions and hysterical! We shop for early editions whenever we can. The hunt for certain books in your interest range is as fun as hunting for any other collectible. I love travel books, and we have our books organized according to topic (etiquette books, travel, Roman history, political, biographies, etc., etc.) Creating a library is a joy!
    Like other possessions, books become more than just a title once read, but evoke memories of a certain time in life. A chic ‘older’ friend of mine with a fabulous home, has a wall of bookshelves, similar to the photo above, in a fabulous chateau-like family room. She had little lights installed discreetly on the shelves to give them light and so it’s not a big dark wall. In front of the books, she has literally dozens of small framed family snapshots (wide variety of frames), basically chronicling the couple’s life. Photos with parents, early married life, the babies, the graduations, the debutantes, the weddings, the whole nine yards! She is a collector of many, many beautiful things, but this room and this wall are my favorite thing in her home. Kindles certainly have their place for avid and best seller readers, especially for travel I am told. But for ‘keeping it chic,’ electronics don’t register. But then, I am a mother who, when the kids arrive back home and come through the door, are asked to leave their ‘machines’ on the foyer table. (And yes, they are crabby about it, but too bad, it’s our home)! : ))) Sorry this got so long!

    PaulaJune 2nd, 2017  7:49 PM

     
  • I would love some serious shelving to help with the fashion clutter!

    That's Not My AgeJune 5th, 2017  8:39 AM

     
  • You are so sensitive, Preston, thank you very much for sharing this lovely post and thanks, readers, for all these stunning comments. For a moment, I felt in a real sintony with each one of you. As a curious writer living in Paris, I have a lot of books in my home and I can’t resist to buy some bookshelves to organize my library. This next weekend I will receive the last one (of the semester, hope so) and my walls are completely decorated with books. My friends told me that I’m overcharged the quota of all floor! For me, more than a interior design, have books and stay in their company is a estate of my soul. I can give everything that I have, except my books, because I can’t live without them. That’s impossible!

    Marilane BORGESJune 5th, 2017  3:33 PM

     
  • Thanks for the books post- so smart! I recommend using an indie bookstore in NYC, though, (as opposed to Amazon)– 3 Lives or McNally Jackson are my favorites– we have to keep brick and mortar stores alive <3 It's a passion to visit an indie bookstore at every new place I visit- I highly recommend this, as it takes you to some cute parts of the city.

    Jackie ReitzesJune 5th, 2017  8:52 PM

     

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