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At Home With Books 02/07/11

cover art

I have curbed my willy-nilly library borrowing to focus instead on reading books from my wishlist. I have started with my oldest wishlist books first. Many of these early ones I no longer remember why I wanted to read them in the first place. At Home with Books by Estelle Ellis and Caroline Seebohm is an exception to that rule.

In fact I remember perfectly where I learned about the book; Bookcrossing. I was a fairly new member and read about it in the Book Talk forum. The book sounded fascinating, especially to someone who just gone through the fourth move in short succession and who no longer had a good clear idea which books were in my personal library.

At Home with Books is a coffee table book that looks at a select group of large personal libraries. These are libraries of people who can afford to have a lot of books, displayed beautifully. These aren't libraries like mine or like people I know where books are stacked two and three thick on shelves, are stuffed in boxes under the stairs, are under beds and in dresser drawers.

These are libraries where someone has decided on a theme; like the one that is devoted only to New York books. Each book is labeled and catalogued and different subjects are in different rooms. But the whole library itself is only about New York.

While I found the photographs gorgeous to look at and some of the stories fascinating, the overall effect of the book was overwhelming. After awhile the book got to be too much and I believe it or not, I felt like my library was inadequate. Sure I've catalogued my entire family library, but there isn't a central theme (beyond we like these books) and they aren't shelved with specific call numbers. Nor are our books in perfect shape or especially rare or unique. They are old, new, dog eared, and odd ball.

Three stars.

Comments (2)

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Comment #1: Tuesday, February, 8, 2011 at 10:39:38


My library will always be like yours. Full of dog-eared, used, worn and much-read books. It will never be a showcase, but it will always be loved! Those kind of private libraries are beautiful but I can't imagine I'll ever have one like it!

Comment #2: Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 20:54:03


Neither can I. My library will always be a mishmash of current interests, odd finds and well read books.

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