10 December 2012
Samples from my On-the-Shelf and Off-the-Shelf Printed Materials in my Personal Library
Let me know which you prefer and why.
In every room of my home is some space devoted to books (really, print materials that include magazines), which are part of a modest and eclectic collection. Books spill onto floors and rugs, rest on shelves, lean against windowsills, stack onto tables, atop desks, hide in corners, pile on chairs,…in singles, pairs and multiples. No matter how many times I thin their ranks, they still reproduce and remain stoically visible. And still my inherited DNA dictates a neat and tidy home.
Sometimes a section will have a theme: pop-up, flip, visual arts, literature, children’s, memoirs, history, nature, travel, cooking, health. Oh, and there is the expansion of my books on photography. These pockets of goodies also include books I’m currently reading as well as the remainder of the Sunday New York Times.
I read mucho non-fiction. But I am lured by a classic or modern fictional narrative.
As a former arts administrator and educator, there is a tendency for me to lean towards stuffing my brain with arts-related matters, but I’m swayed by a great review about any genre of literature, pop culture, psychology, and science. With the winter holidays starting this past weekend, books are in the forefront as gifts for others and myself.
The printed page has inspired readers to conquer fears, open borders, perform unusual acts, seek guidance, help others, invent the extraordinary, and push creativity. Mostly, books are revered as threads that carry civilization’s deeds and experiences: real or imaginary. While their current status is being re-designed and re-invented, their staying power is not at all questioned by me.
When I arrange and re-arrange books in my personal library or browse through them at the university library, I put them into a smaller frames of reference: the still life of painting and photography. These daily objects become much more; they are elevated to a plane of beauty.
Maybe that’s why was I dazzled with the works of artists such as Jane Mount, Tatsuro Kiuchi, Hollis Brown Thornton, Wendy Machaugton, and Mickey Smith.
I found myself thinking about these artists’ choice of artistic subjects: bookshelves. For example, Jane Mount creates real-life, fictional and semi-fictional shelves that represent a personal collection: a mini-library with brushes and paint. Her art is found in My Ideal Bookshelf (edited by Thessaly La Force), which is a compendium of popular icons and their favorite books.
Jane Mount replicates or invents an array of bookshelves from relatives to the well-known who are book aficionados. Her ink-and-gouache paintings are a view into someone’s personal philosophy of life, because books are known to reveal volumes (really, no pun intended) about their owners.
On that note I just read a review (Sunday New York Times, click here to read it) about the paper engineer Courtney Watson McCarthy’s new book, (Antoni) Gaudí Pop Ups (2012). Last year a friend gave me her Pop Ups of M.C. Escher (2011), and it’s quite wonderful.
So I keep filling my on-the-shelf and off-the-shelf areas. Some pastimes are so revered that it’s impossible to redirect the passion. And quite honestly, why would I want to deprive myself of such joy. Happy book buying and keep adding to your personal library.
Note: I welcome comments about this post or any part of my blog.