Originally posted on October 10, 2006
We get loads of magazines here at PND Central mainly because my bequeathed is an interior designer and needs them for 'research'. I always find myself looking at these pictures of living rooms and focusing on the bookshelves pictured to identify the books these people have purchased. There is actually a spread in the current (November) House and Garden (US) showing the libraries of selected rich people which is great food for my curiosity. Rather than an opportunity to discuss how these books add to the quality of life of these people or indeed what part the collection of books plays in their lives the spread is about clothes and jewelry. Fits entirely with a magazine that is supposed to represent 'design for the well lived life'.
The pictures of the libraries themselves are naturally attractive and they do represent a spectrum. One library is over 3,000 books (but only a small portion are shown) and another seems suspiciously lacking in said critical element. Perhaps in this case the appellation 'library' is simply affectation. In addition to this spread there are also a few pages with some library furniture including a gorgeous book stand and library ladder. I wish I could link to the pages.
I would love to have a designated library with enough room for our current collection and expansion space. My wife has a large collection of large format design and garden books and has run out of space such that the titles now pile under her desk. This is not a way to treat these wonderful items. We have plans to own a house where we can designate a true library - free of TV and with some of the types of furniture House and Garden might advertise.
Mrs PND and I have different philosophies on organizing the books as well. I like to group my authors and use some rudimentary dewey decimal system but she on the otherhand has no organization. She has her side and I have mine. We share a check book but not the book shelves. (Since I was a child I always retained my own collection and did not mix my books with my family either). In the next several years we both plan to become more methodical about how and what we collect while we still retaining the joy of reading.
Looking at the titles that people have in their collections - via my close views of house magazines and books - does give me some insight into who the people might be. I think the most curious pictures are those that cover vast houses of immense expense and lavish wall art but few books. Often what books these people have are one notable best seller per year for the past ten years as though this was all they could manage. Table tops are often covered with art books which look like they were placed by the photographer. A dead give-away is when the same books are in different shots. Thankfully, rarely do you see books with the dust covers removed: "tell the client to toss all the dust jackets," was the advice my wife was once given by her mentor. That just horrifies me.