Friday Fun: In Search of the Perfect Shelf

Of course bookshelves are the best kind of shelves, but I have to admit that I’m nosy and like to see what people put on any kind of shelves. Here are some shelves where you can proudly display your favourite things.

Corner office in your bedroom, although I do wonder how you can reach the top shelf. From curbly.com
Another cute little office, although the shelves are rather high. From DesignerTrapped.com
Would love to have this in my hallway (if my hallway were big enough). From handymano.com
It’s not all about the books – look at these amazing window shelves, from homestratosphere.com
No corner is wasted here, from cottagemarket.com
Shelves around the windows are just my favourite thing – although I do occasionally worry the books might get mouldy. From Instagram.

Last Ten Books Tag

I was planning to write the second part of ‘What is indie on my bookshelf’, with a focus on poetry presses, but I saw this bookish tag on Eleanor Franzen’s blog and thought it looked like too much fun to miss out. I’ve long since stopped tagging people, like I used to do in my early days of blogging, because I know so many people hate it. But if you would like to join in, I would love to read your posts!

Last Book I Gave Up On: I feel a bit mean saying this, as it wasn’t bad, but it was Amanda Craig’s The Golden Rule. I suppose it’s because I was reading it as a respite from The Brothers Karamazov in December, and it just felt too long and like too much of a trudge to be a real respite.

Last Book I Re-Read: Dazai Osamu’s No Longer Human in a new translation, but also reread big chunks of the old translation for comparison. It was great to reconnect with an old favourite – remind me to reread things more often!

Last Book I Bought: Just yesterday I ordered Appius and Virginia by G.E. Trevelyan, because someone on Twitter recommended it after I said I’d finished reading Bear by Marian Engel. It’s about a woman who adopts and raises an orang-utan as a human baby. I didn’t read We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves when it came out a few years back and was the subject of avid debates, but this seems in a similar (albeit earlier) vein.

Last Book I Said I Read But Didn’t: I don’t usually do this, as I feel no shame in not having read something (after all, I read so much already, and have other things to do as well). But if I would do it, it would probably be one of those latest bestsellers like The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. (I do have it on my Kindle though, and I will be reading it for our Virtual Crime Book Club this month.)

Last Book I Wrote In The Margins Of: I haven’t done that in years – I use little post-it flags or highlight text on my Kindle. But a lot of my anthropology textbooks feature my scribbles and underlinings, including Ritual, Politics and Power by David Kertzer, which I still remember fondly.

Last Book That I Had Signed: I’m not sure, but I can remember one book which I failed to get signed at the last live event I attended on the 27th of February 2020, a literary event organised by the LRB Review and Bookshop in London: Anne Enright talking about her latest novel Actress. It was a really fun evening – Enright is hugely entertaining and acerbic in public – but there was too much of a queue for the signing and I was with a friend, so we decided to leave.

Last Book I Lost: You can imagine that with so many international moves and having personal libraries in at least 5 different locations across three different countries at one point, things have got lost. I’m trying to resist the temptation to replace all of my Japanese authors library, which I so painstakingly brought over from Japan in my luggage, because I still believe that my parents will have kept them. However, I do know that they gave away a whole chunk of my Japanese language courses, dictionaries and other materials a few years back.

Last Book I Had To Replace: See above about what the dangers of having left behind an entire library in a different country does to you. I finally decided that I couldn’t wait until my parents found and shipped over To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf to me (I had her complete works and diaries, and most of them have followed me wherever I went in my adult life, but somehow this one stayed behind). In fact, I missed it so much that I bought it twice, so now I have two handsome editions of it on my bedside table where my favourite authors live.

Last Book I Argued Over: I wouldn’t exactly call it an argument, because I enjoy hearing what other people think about books, whether they disagree with me or not. One book that seemed to divide opinion among our Shadow Young Writer of the Year panel was Marina Kemp’s Nightingale. Several of my fellow judges loved the French village setting, while I was a bit harsher and found it quite superficially done.

Last Book You Couldn’t Find: I have heard there is an old, out of print Anthology of Romanian Short Fiction, and I have submitted it as a ‘Want’ on Abebooks, but without any luck so far. I wanted to see what short stories were available in English, so that I could share them and finally contribute to Jonathan Gibbs’ lovely personal anthology project.

Friday Fun: Ingenious Bookish Solutions

If (like me) you lack the money to buy a chateau large enough to house your entire book collection, there are some clever solutions for smaller spaces which I’m sure will work out slightly cheaper. Besides, don’t your books deserve all the love and attention you can given them?

Pull-out shelves from Woodmaster Woodworks customised solutions turn your house into a proper library.
Bookshelves above and around doors are always a winner, from OneKingsLane.com
Don’t forget to utilise the space in the smallest room in the house, from Media Bookbub.
Room dividers are always a stylish solution, from Architectural Digest.
Stairs provide the perfect additional storage space for books, from casa.abril.com.br
The home office solution on the stairs, except if your children come trooping down them like elephants. From arkpad.com.br
Oh, and don’t forget to use your mezzanine floor… What do you mean, you don’t have one??? From roomyspace.com

Friday Fun: Home Libraries of the Rich and Famous

I don’t need a whale of a house (although I keep dreaming of chateaux where I can make all of my friends welcome when times get kinder and allow us to travel freely once more). I could live quite modestly. But I would spare no expense (if I had the money) in setting up a fantastic home library. So who can blame these people for their extravagant interiors?

Bette Middler has this quite feminine library (with ladder!), as featured in Architectural Digest.
Unsurprisingly, the male founder and owner of magazine Vice has a more masculine home library, from WSJ.com
Not quite sure who is the owner of this home study/library, but it’s in Brooklyn, so the field is wide open. From Ultralinx.com
This looks darker and gloomier, monochromatic – except for that luscious green landscape. From Elle Decor.
Meanwhile, this Paris-based home library has light just flooding in. From Imgur.com
More realistic dimensions in this Sao Paolo apartment, from casa.com.br
Don’t forget the one indispensable item in a home library. Repeat after me: the ladder! (At least while my creaking bones and joints can cope with one.) From jessicagordonryan.com

Friday Fun: Library Lockdown

I wouldn’t mind getting locked down in any of these home libraries. Of course, some of them are fictional, but no need to limit yourselves to reality!

Under the eaves yet not dark at all, from deavita.fr
Another attic library, with a more realistic cluttered look, from mediabookbub.com
If you’ve seen the film Knives Out, I’m sure your pulses raced faster at the thought of having a study/library like this.
Another fictional library, from the TV series Gotham, as shown in Architectural Digest.
Slightly more rustic, but still incredibly inviting, from zillow. com
And if you have a few bob to spare, Bilotta.com creates custom-made libraries, wine-cellars, walk-in wardrobes and the like.

Friday Fun: Life at the Top

What would life be like if you had high enough ceilings to fit in a mezzanine? Here are some suggestions of how to go about planning and decorating.

Industrial loft decor, room enough for a bike without tripping over it, from DesignMilk.com
A 1950s vibe to this decor, dog not included though! From Yatzer.com
This one seems to stretch over several floors – and we have books at last! From Wit and Whistle.
This feels more down to earth – and of course we have books and clutter too. From DorisLeslieBlau.com
As long as everyone keeps really quiet around the house, I could live with a mezzanine study. From pinimg.com
But my Prize of the Week goes to this cabin in the woods in Poland, which is a reader’s paradise. From LivinginaShoebox.com

Friday Fun: If I had those home offices…

Working from home has not been as peaceful and productive as many of us imagined it would be while we were cursing our commute, but nevertheless many of us are now hoping that organisations are more open to a hybrid model of working. A couple of days at home every week would really make all the difference – and would certainly be a pleasure in any of the home offices below.

You can’t go wrong with ladders or spiral staircases, as we’ve established. From Wall Street Journal.

Even if you have long, awkwardly shaped rooms… But where do people get all these high ceilings from? From weheartit.com

For those who like it darker, more traditional, this comfy office with reading armchair and window seat has it all. From Pinterest.

But many of you might prefer an office (again, with ceiling height) with a view. It would require a LOT more bookcases, from my point of view, though. From Decoist.

This one has the shelves, but does it have the view? From home-designing.com

This one ticks both boxes: lots of shelves and lots of views! From Decoist.

Friday Fun: Libraries and Bookshelves

I seem to have an endless selection of public and private libraries in my Friday Fun series. You can deduce from that where I feel most at home! Here is a recap of some recent favourites.

Academic and public libraries https://findingtimetowrite.wordpress.com/2018/08/03/friday-fun-public-and-academic-libraries/

Home libraries designed by professionals https://findingtimetowrite.wordpress.com/2017/08/18/friday-fun-designer-libraries/

Airy and light home libraries https://findingtimetowrite.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/friday-fun-airy-and-light-home-libraries/

Another passion of mine: stairs in libraries https://findingtimetowrite.wordpress.com/2016/07/01/friday-fun-libraries-big-enough-for-stairs/

Combining home study with a home library https://findingtimetowrite.wordpress.com/2016/05/20/friday-fun-home-libraries-to-aspire-to/

Five Things to Sing About

Really struggling to find enough things to be positive about this past week, which has been marred by headaches and insomnia. But as long as I have books, plays and music, it cannot be all bad, right?

  1. I tidied up my bedside tables and bookshelves, as the new purchases were interfering with my geographical shelving.
My Russians are now next to Persephone, for some reason…
This is the bedside table I use on a daily basis. It usually looks a lot more cluttered than this, but I tidied it up for the photo. It contains my current reading and library loans, my journal and my all-time favourite authors (Tove, Jane, Virginia, Shirley, Jean)

2. I donated a massive bag full of books to the local library, but I also bought books this week, so my balance is probably zero.

The Malorie Blackman is for my younger son, and I wonder if my older son might be interested in Jean Plaidy – he is currently on a bit of a medieval history reading spree.
You might spot Kaggsy’s nefarious influence here… plus a highly-regarded Greek author about a mother/son relationship (currently a bit of an obsession of mine)

3. Speaking of mother/son relationships, I watched yet another emotionally gruelling play Mother of Him by Evan Placey at the Park Theatre. A play to make the audience think, laugh, cry and gasp out loud! It’s about a family (and especially the mother, who is being judged by everyone) going to pieces when the older son is accused of raping three girls in one night. It should come with a flashing red warning for single mothers of teenage boys – especially when the actor who plays the 17 year old son has the skinny body type of my own 16 year old!

4. ROH Live Encore at my local culture centre: Mozart’s Don Giovanni. One of my favourite operas, can never get enough of it and have watched many a wacky production. This beautiful Jack Furness revival of the Kasper Holten production featured a charismatic Erwin Schrott in the title role, a Don Ottavio I could finally empathise with (Daniel Behle) and an amazing if rather discombobulating set with video projections. It hasn’t quite dethroned my current favourite version: this ‘hipster edition’ live recording from the Festival international d’Art lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence in July 2017.

5. Sadly, I didn’t make it to this month’s writing group meeting, but I’ll be taking part in the Charity Write-a-thon we are organising in Windsor on the 16th of November. All the money we raise will go to Mind. If you do feel inspired to sponsor me, please visit my fundraising page here.

Friday Fun: Emerge from Your Library?

Maybe not just yet, not when the libraries look so tempting…

This looks like something out of Beauty and the Beast, from Pinterest.
Library of the Waldsassen Monastery in Bavaria.
Victor Hugo’s library in his house in Guernsey.
A cosy fireplace and a cuddly pet are great accessories, from Archzine.com
And that is why I love high ceilings – designed by Luis Bustumante.
Books really bring colour to even the most neutral and airy of bedrooms, from Pinterest.
And if you can’t leave your books alone overnight, or need to recover after all the holiday eating, here is the sleep-in library from Mildred Slane.