A library is more than just a reading room—it is the core of a reader’s identity, the convergence point for the thousand stories that have inspired and shaped your mind. The space is sacred, a place for meditation, contemplation, exploration and, for many, a place of pure solace. So whether you’re a bibliophile or just starting on your odyssey with the written word, keep comfort, style and a personal touch in mind when you put together a room devoted to books. Here are 3 ways to do just that.
First things first: bookshelves
Of course you need bookshelves, you’re probably thinking, but what’s that got to do with setting up a home library? A lot actually. Do a little soul searching to figure out your relationship with books. While some of us think of the bookshelf as an altar—a place on which a book can be appreciated, admired and worshipped—others think of books as artifacts to be preserved.
Tall, sturdy wooden bookshelves lined around the room will allow us to admire their spine, their weight and their worth. The taller the shelves, the mightier the books feel, and as you climb a ladder to reach the volumes up above, you’ll enjoy the feeling just as much as dropping into a book and getting lost in its story. If your library however, is a space of release, of creative comfort—a place where you can relax and feel at home amongst the stories you’ve always loved, then your bookshelves should reflect that too. We’d recommend piling up your books onto asymmetrical shelves or scattering them sporadically over the walls in red and white box shelves interspersed with creative bookends and curios (like abstract sculptures or miniature artwork). This library is the perfect space to revel in the spirit of art and creation.
A reading chair (and everything else)
To truly relish a good book, you must feel completely at ease in your environment. What really makes a library feel like a haven is that one perfect reading chair by the window or a lamp. Whether you want to curl up and sink into a romance novel on a rainy day or sprawl with abandon as you dive headfirst into a sci-fi thriller, it essential to find a chair that’s just right for you: it could be a generous leather armchair or a vividly printed tall-back chair or even a velvet chaise lounge with a matching ottoman or a pouf to rest your feet. You may even want your library to be a communal environment, one where you can share your experience with friends and family. A fluffy rug and a few soft feather pillows are an easy and comfy way to create space for a group reading session. If you like ambient music for soft jazz or light strains of classical melodies, a hidden speaker system would be the seamless way to compliment your reading. Add a coffee machine if you spend hours in your reading room and want a cuppa to go with your favorite story!
The books themselves
The way in which your books are organized is one of the most powerful elements of browsing a library. You may choose to organize your books in strict single file, alphabetically by author or by genre, so that they are convenient to find and—some of you may candidly admit—easy to show off to your friends. Organizing by author works for those who know exactly what they want to read, but cataloguing your books in sections according to genre gives you the satisfaction of browsing through your collection according to your mood: romance for a rainy day or fantasy for those days when you just want to escape into another world. Where your library would have the usual suspects from the world of fiction and non-fiction, no matter what you’re passionate about—whether it is gardening, photography, food, travel—dedicate a section or two to it. If you enjoy the classics and want your kids or nieces and nephews to read them too, add books like Black Beauty and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, for example, to complete your collection. Have a small section where you can display beautiful coffee table books or simply scatter these on the table if they’re too large to fit on the shelves. For more serious collectors, it would be good idea to keep a catalogue so that you can keep track of your collections as well as those who borrow from it. You could digitise your collection on your computer or smartphone, though a leather-bound notebook and a vintage ink pen would add a nice, classic touch.
So, do you see your personal library taking shape in your mind? Make it a reality and enjoy every minute you spend with the book of your choice.