Wednesday, August 17, 2016

It's Not Hoarding If It's Books

I haven't talked about my bibliophilic tendencies lately because, let's face it, this is a stamping blog, not a book blog, and we English-major types can get a little carried away on our favorite subject and bore the dickens out of normal people.

Dickens. Get it?

Anyway, I'm a reader and love books of all sorts. And no, I'm not a snob about paper books. If you have an e-reader (mine's a Nook tablet in a delightful liturgical-red leather cover that's very satisfying), that's fine with me. If you only read printed books, that's fine, too. To each reader, his/her own preference. The world is big enough for us all.

It wasn't until I started watching Fixer Upper that I really thought about what books look like on a shelf. Joanna Gaines is a genius with decor, but she tends to cover books with neutral wrappers and use them as decorative accents. While the effect is charmingly coordinated and certainly appeals to my minimalist, monochromatic tendencies, the neutrality and anonymity of the books bothers me. What's inside those covers? Are they good books or mediocre books or prurient books or fiction or nonfiction or old books or new books? Who wrote them?

Those linen wrappers hide all that makes a book special. It feels wrong.

In a world where children are starving to death, I'm bothered by this. Seriously?

Anyway, My own bookshelves are not color-coordinated and artistically arranged. They are organized by subject, and the subjects include medieval literature (biggest section), medieval history (second biggest section), medieval art and architecture, Christian, classic novels, poetry, mysteries, series (including Jan Karon's Mitford books and Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency), autism, miscellaneous non-fiction, and so on. This means I know just where to go to find a book. In seconds, that lovely tome is in my hand, open and useful.

I'm not so obsessive-compulsive that each section is alphabetized by author or title. But still. It's easy to find books in my house.

Did you know that during the middle ages, libraries organized books by size? Yep. Can you imagine searching chests to find a folio-sized book of Ptolemy's Almagest or a quarto-size copy of Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People or an octavo-size copy of Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls? It sounds like a lengthy treasure hunt compared to navigating the Dewey Decimal System or my own shelves.

Anyway, when I decided to make a card for my friend who started our book club, I made the shelf more reminiscent of my practically-organized shelves rather than Joanna Gaines' artful shelves or the uniform sizes of the library at the Abbey of Montecassino. Although I added a plant...just for fun and because my friend is quite the gardener as well as a bibliophile.

Now, aren't you glad I rarely talk about books on Simplicity?

Of course you are.

stamps: Papertrey All Booked Up (sentiment), Simon Says Stamp To Thine Own Shelf (everything else)
ink: various pigment inks
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: none


  1. Please talk books whenever you want!!! And I totally agree with you that I want to see the real books, not some plain covers!! Sadly my books are not well organized...nor is anything else in my life :( But I keep trying!!

    Love the card!!

  2. What a great card! So much to look at, including the white space. Love your colors and book arrangement, and the box and plant on the shelf ends.

  3. I, for one, would love to read of what books you are reading, have read or what is on your list to read.
    Our library tends to be organized by series, the order dictated by size (yes, different height of books in a series make my eyes twitch)

    Love your book shelf. It is very inviting for a browse!

  4. Love this card, it tickles my fancy. I love reading, always have a book with me no matter where I go cause you just might have a minute to spare and who wants to read the ads on the passing vehicles or rules on the walls in the waiting room. As children my father went to the library and picked out the next science fiction series he wanted to read then we all shared his reads for the month. Dad of course started at the beginning then my eldest brother, sister, brother then me then my sister so we would read a series all over the place, never in order. And if he finished he would just take the next one from who ever had it. I still love science fiction fantasy fiction to this day. But now I get to read them in order. My children get horrified to think I didnt read in order unaware that you did the best with what you had at the time. At least we had books to read.

  5. Love your card. Don't love the organization of my books.

  6. I so agree with the title of this post!
    Happy to read I'm not the only one who is amazed at interior designers who decide to arrange someone else's books by size or colour. Hmm, let's read a red book today...

  7. I love hearing your book talk! And I agree, while the minimalist look of linen covered books fits my style, I want to know where to find my books! So my books are organized by subject and are a heater skelter jumble of color! !Ah, books, glorious, glorious books! PS I love your card,too:)

  8. you must have been a hoot in your "lit" classes..wish I could have been there..

  9. I love the card as it speaks volumes to me. Our books were organized until we moved this past March. The priority was getting our hundreds and hundreds of books ON shelves, not necessarily in any order. We pluck through them here and there and it's coming together. I don't put books in the bedroom because I want it to be a soothing place and not the riot of colors and sizes. Now I know I can cover them for uniformity, but yeah, don't see that happening. At least the linen covers were nice looking. I visited a yard sale once where there were many, many, many paperback books for sale as the owner was deceased. All the spines were covered in different colored duct tape. Like blue for horror, red for mystery, etc. I couldn't decide if that was brilliant or horrible.

  10. True confession: Any time I come across photos of bookshelves, I pull the book, magazine, computer close to my near-sighted eyes and read as many titles as I can. I've never told anyone I do this because it seems so weird. My books are by topic scattered in bookshelves around the house. I was just 72, know I need to stop accumulating but can't stop, and am waiting to get an award from Amazon for the number of Kindle books I order each month. No hope for me---and I'm so glad.

  11. I love your card. Signed, a book hoarder.

  12. This is delightful. I love the stamps you've used.

  13. Another book hoarder here, & I love reading about books, as well as reading the books themselves. I have collected most? all? of the Mitford series - bought when we were on various holidays (vacations to you, I think) in the US. They are great souvenirs as well as lovely reads.

  14. Love the "Dicken's" reference. I also agree about the book covers, that's half their charm and personality is the worn book look. Don't cover those beauties up. However I do color coordinate my books since it's a smaller space so it looks not as cluttered (in my opinion) then. I also love the facts you added about how they organized books in the middle ages. Honestly your lovely card of books on a shelf is what made me pop over to your blog. I love stamps and books, and well the two together is magical ☺ You did a fabulous job. By the way.. I also love your wealth of knowledge on books.

  15. Thanks for this post. Once more, I feel as though I'm speaking with my long-lost friend! Yes, our books are a decorative element in our house, but I wouldn't say "accent"... maybe a theme? With bookshelves in every room except the bathroom, I think we qualify for a theme. Generally, the "to be read" ones are spread throughout the house, sorted by where is there room to put them on a shelf. The "already read" are in the family room, on a wall of bookcases, ordered by author, generally not sorted by topic.
    And the crafting books/patterns/inspirationals are in my studio -- sorted by subject. Books and stamps DO go together, and I'm happy to read your bookish thoughts whenever you choose to share. Puns and all!

  16. I'm all about books, and all about Fixer Upper. Joanna is truly amazing. I tend to assume the books she is wrapping were probably not very good, and picked up at a garage sale or something like that. I only keep GOOD books, and would never think of wrapping them. I do, however, arrange them by size and color, but in groupings that make sense together. For example, one shelf is strictly Canadian authors, another is for non-fiction, etc.


Thank you so much for taking time to comment!