If you are a book lover, then you most likely live with books. And ironically, you can add even more volumes to your collection by collecting books about living with books. But what could be so complicated about living with books that it deserves multiple volumes?
Putting some thought into decorating with books adds character to your home. With some creativity and intention, your bookshelves can reveal your personality and bring inspiration.
There is a lot of information to be found in the following books, including how to best store and care for your collection, how to categorize books, and some techniques behind creating pleasing visual displays.
Below are ten recommended reads on increasing the comfort and visual appeal of your living space with books. (Feel free to use this as an excuse to buy more).
Published in 2009, Books Do Furnish a Room by Leslie Geddes-Brown presents books as alluring and magical, as well as practical and valuable, pieces that can transform a home. It is chock full of beautiful photos and design and storage ideas for every nook and cranny around the house.
Living with Books was first published in 1999. Witty and elegant, author Alan Powers explains how to build a library, from creating shelves to storage and care, for both large and small collections.
In Bibliostyle: How We Live at Home with Books, interior designer Nina Freudenberger, New Yorker writer Sadie Stein, and Architectural Digest photographer Shade Degges highlight the private libraries and bookshelves of well-known writers and book collectors, showing the power of a personal collection to tell a story.
First published in 2011, a new edition of Books Make a Home by Damian Thompson was released in 2022. As the subtitle explains, the book presents “Elegant Ideas for Storing and Displaying Books,” visiting the living rooms, home libraries, studies, kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, corridors, staircases, and children’s rooms of houses to discover ways of storing and presenting books.
At Home with Books: How Booklovers Live with and Care for Their Libraries, by Estelle Ellis, Caroline Seebohm and Christopher Simon Sykes, was first published in 1995. It offers professional advice on editing and categorizing your library; caring for your books; preserving, restoring, and storing rare books; finding out-of-print books; and choosing furniture, lighting, and shelving.
Decorating with Books (House Beautiful) by Marie Proeller Hueston, published in 2012, is a guidebook to using books as an element of style and beauty in your house.
For the Love of Books: Designing and Curating a Home Library by Elizabeth Lane and Thatcher Wine was published in 2019. Wine is the CEO of Juniper Books, which specializes in custom-curated libraries and beautifully designed book sets. This book is stunningly embellished with photographs in the same aesthetic as their beautiful books.
Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic Michael Dirda presents a collection of articles on literary life in Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books, published in 2015.
In Novel Living, author and artist Lisa Occhipinti presents creative ways to collect and display books and even craft with them. If deconstructing books seems like a crime to you, I would skip this inventive read.
Henry Petroski is a professor of engineering and history at Duke University and has several books to his name, including The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance (1990) and The Evolution of Useful Things (1992). The Book on the Bookshelf (1999) follows the evolution of the book throughout our literate history.
There are many resources for learning more about the art of living with books. One quick recommendation is that you browse the inventory of Kay Craddock Antiquarian Bookseller in Melbourne, Australia – many of these book images came from their expansive stock of used and rare books.
Amy C. Manikowski is a writer living in Asheville, NC.