Building a Home Library / by Leslie Fandrich

By Leslie Fandrich // Themes: Books, Library, Collecting // Category: Inspiring Ideas


Oh how I love books. Nothing fills me with more calm and contentedness than a book. To settle in and read a good story is bliss and to have in my hand all the answers to whatever it is I am trying to learn about makes me feel confident and in control.

My husband has observed that anytime I get serious about something, I buy a book about it.

I have a lot of books.

In college I had an instructor who said to me, "The single best thing you can do in your life is build a library." Of course he didn't mean to literally build a library. We'll leave that to towns and presidents. And he didn't even really mean that you have to build a room in your house that is The Library. He just meant, buy books. Own books. Put them on a shelf and call it your library.

He knew that buying books and building a library ensures that a person continues to learn. There are so many wonderful things to learn.

You can tell a lot about people by what kind of books they own. If I visit someone's house and discover that we have at least three of the same books, I know we will be friends. Have a look at the books you own, figure out the type of book you own the most of, and there is your number one interest.

I have four different areas in the house for books. In my bedroom I have a shelf for all my novels and literature. The kind of books I would read comfortably in bed. In the living room is a shelf filled with my favorite books and big coffee table type art books. These are the books I want people to see and have peeks at when they come over. In my studio are all my instructional books about photography, art and design and books that I find inspiring, especially pop culture. The kids also have a book shelf in their room filled with their favorites and we read together most nights right before bed.

I couldn’t live a week without a private library - indeed, I’d part with all my furniture and squat and sleep on the floor before I’d let go of the 1500 or so books I possess.
— H. P. Lovecraft
When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.
— Jane Austen

To build up a library is to create a life. It’s never just a random collection of books.
— Carlos María Domínguez

A library represents the mind of its collector, his fancies and foibles, his strength and weakness, his prejudices and preferences. Particularly is this the case if to the character of a collector he adds—or tries to add—the qualities of a student who wishes to know the books and the lives of the men who wrote them. The friendships of his life, the phases of his growth, the vagaries of his mind, all are represented.
— Sir William Osler

I love matching up people with books. I am like a book doctor. Tell me your interests or problems and I will assign you a book to read. I'll usually give it to you straight off my shelf and I know you might not return it, so I'll just tell you to keep it and I'll buy another. 

I also love borrowing books from the library, but this is more like test driving a car. If I really like a book, I will buy it because I want it available to me at all times and forever. 

Of course we are living in the digital age and many people buy books for their devices, and that's fine for a book I may read on vacation, but anything I want to really study or pass along to the kids I prefer to be a physical thing. There is nothing like a real book in my hands.

People who need to possess the physical copy of a book, and not merely an electronic version, are in some sense mystics. We believe that the objects themselves are sacred, not just the stories they tell. We believe that books possess the power to transubstantiate, to turn darkness into light, to make being out of nothingness.
— Joe Queenan

Books are knowledge. Books are entertainment. Books are inspiration. They are an essential part of my home and my life. Built in book shelves will be a central feature all over my home if I ever get the chance to build. Do you collect books? Do you have a home library? Or are your books spread all over the house like mine?

Do you see any books here that we both share? Can you recommend any books to me?

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