By Marilyn Bailey
Photos courtesy of Juniper Books
From practical advice to wisdom about the words we choose to live with, this book covers it all.
You’re either one of us, or you’re not. That is, a person who finds a sense of refuge in printed books. For members of this tribe, a new coffee-table volume, For the Love of Books: Designing and Curating a Home Library (Gibbs Smith, $50), explores ways to deepen the meaning of the books in your life, bring them to the forefront, highlight the ones that mean the most to you, and use them to express who you are. Author Thatcher Wine was an English major who found himself drawn to the book trade after a brief career in tech. Among other things, he helped his childhood friend Gwyneth Paltrow create a home library for herself and her family, and as founder of Juniper Books, he quickly became a leader in a new field that marries old-fashioned bookselling with home decor.
Wine and a Juniper colleague, Elizabeth Lane, have written an engaging volume that details what they do and helps any book lover achieve the DIY version. As a book curator, Wine finds the right reads for all kinds of clients — say, an individual who wants to start a gardening or Russian classics collection, or Fort Worth’s Shady Oaks Country Club, which wanted to furnish a library room. He’ll also transform your old books with custom jackets, or cover your favorite modern books in antique-look bindings. Most spectacularly, he’ll cover whole shelves or walls of books in astonishing patterns — each book treated like a pixel in a larger creation — that help realize a design vision. He’ll create a bookcase-size Eiffel Tower or Brooklyn Bridge across a wall of volumes, or just cover your tabletop row of Brontës in an overall design that makes them — and your literary passion — pop out when you enter the room.
As Wine acknowledges, some people find this approach to design superficial. But he points to the libraries of old and their sets of matching leather-bound and gilded volumes. Nineteenth-century gentlemen custom-ordered books in their favorite bindings and endpapers — why not modern lords and ladies of the manor? The authors also give practical advice for all. They go deeper than decluttering queen Marie Kondo in helping you decide which books to keep. They show how to expertly style a bookcase, when to buy upgraded editions of your favorites, and how to display books everywhere in your house, from living room to child’s room to the kitchen (use your mortar and pestle as a bookend). What you choose to hold on to tells a story about your life and your values, and Wine inspires you to think of your cookbooks, craft books, presidential bios or full Harry Potter set as “collections.” Whether you share the authors’ design aesthetic or not, this volume will change the way you look at your shelves.