Friday Fun: Bookish Delights Under the Stairs

Under my stairs I have the cat’s litter tray, but if you set such prosaic realities aside, stairs do seem to offer an extra opportunity to store some books, especially if space is somewhat tight.

Bookshelves with a good light and even a chair to peruse properly, from matchness.com
Scandinavian flair for this studio with a mezzanine in Luberon, France, from hello-hello.fr
I’m always a bit nervous about stairs with no balustrades, but maybe if you are Italian, you are never in danger of falling down them. From Porta Ticinese.
A modern reinterpretation of tradition, plus comfy armchairs, from Country Living.
The very British traditional take on home office and bookcase, from Neville Johnson.
This looks more manageable and affordable, although you might bump into things and make books fly. From Sooshell.com

Friday Fun: All the Bookshelf Joy in the World

What’s the point of having a house without bookshelves filled with books? Here are some of my recent favourites (by the way, I have to keep on deleting old pictures, to make sure that I have enough space on my WordPress site, so you may find some posts are missing pictures, although I am trying to delete those rogue empty posts).

Don’t let a few pesky windows put you off having bookshelves on those walls, from Tumblr.
Tall shelves always look good, from Architectural Digest.
Having a long, narrow room doesn’t mean you have to give up on a windowseat and bookshelves. from Houseawards.com.au
The longest desk in the world and a lot of lovely tall bookshelves, from Laya Decor.
Mountain chalet would suit me perfectly, from beautifullyseaside.com
These shelves are far too empty, but those chairs look comfy, and the reading light seems good too. All I need is a footstool… From delightfull.eu

Friday Fun: Who Has the Fairest Home Library of Them All?

Whenever I search property websites for houses for sale in my dream locations, I am nearly invariably disappointed by the lack of books in most people’s houses. I’m not just thinking empty shelves, as is the case in one of the examples below (where the owner has clearly moved out before marketing her property), but no shelves at all, almost as if books were a dirty concept that should be kept hidden from view. Fortunately, I’ve managed to find some examples that prove that books really do form the best kind of backdrop in your home. And not just on Zoom calls.

A cosy waiting room for guests or reading nook for those who don’t like house parties. From ArchitecturalDesigns.com
Another cosy reading corner, with footstool and lighting, just off the main library (one can but hope). From livemaster.ru
A home library fit for a palazzo – or a LavishLawyer.com
A small apartment need not spell the end of your bookish dreams, as this charming bedroom demonstrates. From domino.com
This room has arched windows surrounded by books on BOTH sides – and ladders! It doesn’t get much better or showier than this. From thenordroom.com
Finally, this is the one that I said featured empty shelves. It is Emilia Clarke’s house in LA, which she has put up for sale. I think I might have enough books to cover up all that space (and perhaps a few left over). From thenordroom.com

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.