Bookshelf Wealth: Are You a Designer or a Bibliophile?

The New York Times asks, "Do you have Bookshelf Wealth?"

Needless to say this article from January 15th caught my attention as I was in the middle of making an aesthetically pleasing stack of books. So, what is "Bookshelf Wealth?"

The author of this article, Madison Malone Kirchner interviews those who are following this new trend of  "bookshelf wealth" as well as the critics of this trend. Then there are those, like myself, who have had bookshelf wealth since I was a child. I just didn't know there was a name attached to it.

Using bookshelf wealth as decor is nothing new to me. Since I've been keeping house for over 40-some years I have always had a stack of books perched on tables and propped on shelves depending on the season, holidays, and special interests like Renaissance art, gardens, and French cookbooks. Halloween is the time to bring out the works of Edgar Allen Poe or childhood books about friendly witches and ghouls. 

Perhaps "bookshelf wealth" genes run in the family as my mother and maternal grandmother always had "coffee table" books poised on a table in their living/sitting rooms. 

The article does point out that the books we use for staging must also be read. In addition, there is a certain aspect to matching art, sculpture, and fabrics around these books or vice versa. This vibe is something out of a Nancy Meyer movie or even out of an old Nora Ephron movie. Whatever movies starring romance heroines Meryl Streep or Meg Ryan, that is the look I am going for.

This decor trend also brings out the critics - the true bibliophiles, the bookworms who have books strewn all over the house in no particular order. There can be stacks of books on the floor, by their beds, and even a stack of books by their toilet and the bathtub. The books are not in any order by topic. They are not colorized fashionably by the color of their book spines. These books are sometimes stuffed into bookshelves with no rhyme or reason. Their owners are true book collectors who follow The New York Times Best Sellers list. The owners of these books are made of collectors who value first editions, autographed copies, or beautifully illustrated books. 

Me? In the summertime, I was the kid who preferred to read a new book under a shade tree while my childhood contemporaries were swimming and lying out in the sun by the river. There is something satisfying about seeing a stack of French cookbooks when I walk into my kitchen. Or recently a stack of Parisian-themed books including a few new ones I purchased while visiting the timeless bookshop in Paris, Shakespeare and Company. Yes, in my house at the end of a dark hallway are built-in bookshelves with no order and are sprinkled with a few tchotchkes, photograph books, and board games. It's a bit on the messy side, but it pleases me. It shows my hallway library gets used. Yes, I still have a few of my college textbooks that I will occasionally refer to. 

Perhaps? I am a blend of both - the designer and the bibliophile.