Shelf Esteem No. 1


For years John and I have been tearing images we like out of interior design magazines. The idea was that one day the pile of images would serve as both a source of inspiration and a tool for narrowing down what we like for our own home. Recently we were culling the enormous stack of images so that we could put together a portfolio for an eventual meeting with an architect. As we went through them John kept stopping to study the ones that had garden pictures and I kept stopping to gaze at the ones of libraries. Soon I had a pretty fun stack of home library images of all sorts. It occurred to me that this kind of bibliobvoyeurism would find a receptive audience on Hogglestock.

So, today I bring you the first installment of what I hope will be a regular feature: Shelf Esteem. Not every home library I show will be one I particularly like. Some I may not like at all, but it will be fun looking anyway.

And you may remember a previous post I did on some (what I thought were) really lame books on a shelf. (Might I add that in five years of blogging, that was the first post that offended my mother.) It’s going to be kind of like that…but hopefully nothing that will anger the mater.

Here is the first subject of Shelf Esteem:


Cozy Factor: Pretty High. Overall I find this space pretty darn pleasing. The shelves might be a little cold but the floor, ceiling, couch, and desk all warm the place up. I like the bits and bobs littered here and there on the shelves, and I imagine myself taking a minute to write a note with a fountain pen on some Smythson stationary before decamping to the couch with a good book.

The Books: Like many of the library photos in interior design magazines, this one has lots of art books. But in this case they seem to evince an intellectual interest in art rather than just a decorative one. But speaking of intellectual, the fiction that I have been able to recognize with the help of my magnifying glass suggests that the owner of this library sticks to literature with a capital L. A couple DH Lawrence, Primo Levi, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, James Joyce, Vaclav Havel, TS Eliot, Milan Kundera, etc.

The Shelves: Not bad. Clean and simple, they look adjustable, not sure I like the irregular spacing of the vertical members–especially the length of the long ones.

Is this person a reader? I think so, but probably used to read more than they do now. Either that or they don’t like keeping their popular reads amongst the august tomes on these shelves.

The book I would read if I had to pick one: Probably the Lawrence because one of them is one I mean to read anyway.

14 thoughts on “Shelf Esteem No. 1

  1. Karen K. October 22, 2011 / 7:43 pm

    Quite nice! I envy the big bookshelves, I really must look into investing in some. But what are those sconce thingys on either end of the shelf with the framed butterflies? Are they handily displayed magnifying glasses, for those books with tiny print?

    The couch is nice but that desk chair looks a wee bit uncomfortable. But I love the print over the desk, wish I could see it better. Overall, I approve.

    And why was your mother offended by that other bookshelf post? I reread it and can't figure it out.


  2. Melissa October 22, 2011 / 8:40 pm

    I never tire of seeing other people's libraries – or any libraries – so this feature is definitely one that I will look forward to reading.


  3. Susan in TX October 22, 2011 / 9:14 pm

    You are so right about the appeal of this type of post among readers! :) Ah, for this one, there is something about the rough exposed rafters combined with the antique desk that just resonates with me.


  4. Desperate Reader October 23, 2011 / 5:12 am

    When I moved to my flat I had enough space to display thing other than books on the shelves, now I really don't. I think we're (all) going to need a bigger library. Looking forward to the next instalment very much.


  5. Laura October 23, 2011 / 7:42 am

    I love this new feature! I think it's funny how us bibliophiles are always trying to see the titles of books in photos like this. The desk is really pretty but the desk chair looks really uncomfortable, so I'm guessing this desk isn't mean for actual working. I can't assess the comfiness of the other chair (or is it a sofa?). So to me the room seems more designed for display than for reading.


  6. Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick October 23, 2011 / 8:30 am

    Ahh, a cozy nook to build a snug library. A delightful dream for me, perhaps I can get off my you-know-what and unpack my moving boxes and build that in our new house. I agree with Laura that the chair looks uncomfortable, so if we could replace it with one a bit more lounge-like, I think it would be a good fit for me.


  7. joan.kyler October 23, 2011 / 8:38 am

    Where are the lamps? There are none on the desk, although there may be one on the other side of the chair / sofa. If it's a sofa, it should have a lamp at both ends, for comfy two-person reading. For me, the right lighting makes a library (or any room) cozy and inviting.


  8. StuckInABook October 23, 2011 / 9:41 am

    Fun idea :) I look forward to more, and you've reminded me that I want to read more Kundera.


  9. Nan October 23, 2011 / 4:35 pm

    Sometimes it feels like you must be the brother I never had. :<) Yes, the room is quite perfect but the flaws you point out are the ones I saw as well. I have three favorite libraries that I based my own on, and now my den/study/library is a favorite part of my house.
    I very much want the sitting chair – those colors are so wonderful.
    All my books are all mixed up together. I'm as proud of my Miss Reads as my Faulkners. :<)
    LOVED this post.


  10. Ted October 24, 2011 / 7:36 am

    Nice idea. I will be a regular for these posts. Other people's booksshelves, the best!


  11. Thomas at My Porch October 24, 2011 / 8:49 pm

    Karen: I agree, the desk chair doesn't look comfy. That is why I imagine sitting there with perfect posture like an Austen character writing with a quill. Mom was offended because I was making fun of authors that she likes to read…

    Melissa: It is so much fun to look isn't it? I do it in furniture stores too when they use prop books.

    Susan: The rafters really do make the room.

    Hayley: Many decorators say shelves should be 1/3 books, 1/3 objects, and 1/3 empty. I would say that adds up to 3/3rds stupid. Shelves are for books.

    Laura: I don't think the couch would be very comfy for my 6'2″ frame, and I agree about the desk chair. But the room still has a cozy vibe I think.

    Natalie: When we moved into our house about a year and a half ago emptying to book boxes was the first thing I did. Even before other necessities. I don't recommend it, but I couldn't help myself.

    Joan:You are so right about lighting. This one seems to be magically illuminated. I can't tell you the number of times that hotel rooms or houses we have rented that had horrible reading lights by the bed. It's awful.

    Simon: That's funny Simon, it makes me want to read less Kundera. Truth be told I have never tried, but I did see the film of Unbearable Lightness. maybe I should try.

    Nan: Now that we have finally gotten a rug for the library I like spending more time in there. And the fireplace flue has been relined so we will finally get to have a fire in there this winter. We haven't been able to since we bought the house.

    Ted: I'm excited too. I had to keep myself from posting more than one picture at once.


  12. nishitak October 27, 2011 / 7:54 am

    This is quite nicely organized. My dad has an extensive library, which has sadly outgrown our house itself.

    It's such a mess of books double and triple arranged back to back until it is almost impossible to find anything specific without asking my father.


  13. Brenna October 27, 2011 / 5:47 pm

    Great idea for a feature, Thomas. As for the bookshelf you pictured, I think it's great; lovely in a simple, functional way. I also like the two glass pieces hanging from it – they appear to be decorative magnifying glasses. Nice touch.


  14. Thomas at My Porch October 29, 2011 / 11:35 am

    Nishitak: I would love to spend a few hours combing through your dad's library. I like to hunt.

    Brenna: I've posted two more today…


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