Literary bookshelves

Lamb House bookshelves

You may remember among the photos I included in a piece about Lamb House in Rye, East Sussex, the picture of some bookshelves as Henry James might have seen them (sadly the books pictured are not James’ originals).

I thought I might also share with you some images of other bookshelves I saw on a recent visit to places in East Sussex and Kent, shelves associated with a couple of other literary figures. You may care to imagine, as I did, the authors in these places scribbling away or reading the latest publication sent their way.

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Book lover’s day’s today?

Book-ish bookshop book van, Crickhowell, Wales

9th August is apparently Book lover’s day, according to some anonymous and apparently self-appointed committee who decide these things.

This is despite the fact that there is no end of special days for bibliophile and bibliomanes.

World Book Day is celebrated worldwide (early March in the UK and Ireland — aimed at younger readers — 23rd April for Catalunya and most of the rest of the world) and Independent Bookstore Day on the last Saturday in April for the US. There are even weeks dedicated to the acquisition of books, for instance Independent Bookshop Week in June for the UK.

As far as I’m concerned every day is Book Lover’s Day: remember, giving or receiving a book is not just for Christmas…

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Home is where

Shelfie, Oxfam bookshop, Harrogate, North Yorkshire

“A House is Not a Home…” goes the song by Hal David and Burt Bacharach, and I think we can all agree with that. I’m sure that many of you have been in the position of having a few or even several abodes in your lifetime. Did all of them feel like home at the time?

What is it that makes a house a home? The lyrics of that song were clear: a house is not a home “when there’s no one there to hold you tight.” This is corroborated by the common saying that home is where the heart is, implying that this is where loved ones still live or even where one’s fondest memories reside. I think it’s impossible to underestimate the emotional pull that ‘home’ has over a mere dwelling place — think of a building and its associations are bound up with its actuality.

I’m occasionally asked where home is for me, and my stock response has usually been it’s here, where we live now. Certainly the four different properties we’ve lived in as owner-occupiers — where we raised a family, or worked from, or retired to — felt like, or still feels like, home at the time we were/are there.

But increasingly I find it’s not as complete an answer as I’ve glibly trotted out.

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Storage solutions

shelfie

Alan Powers Living with Books Mitchell Beazley 1999 

Museum Selfie Day — when you post a picture of yourself on social media in front of a museum exhibit — has become hugely popular since it started in 2014. (Twitter account @MuseumSelfieDay has announced it will be on January 18th next year.)

Anticipating the success of Museum Selfie Day the New York Public Library promptly declared that the Wednesday following would be Library Shelfie Day (the 3rd annual event was on 27th January this year). The NYPL blog described how, after the inaugural event, “the stats were flooring: approximately 1,500 Instagram posts and 1,800 tweets from roughly 244 libraries/orgs/anything non-personal accounts.” Following the success of America’s National Library Shelfie Day, Britain’s National Libraries Day (this year held on Saturday 6th February) also celebrated with the #libraryshelfie tag on social media.

Naturally I’ve missed all this fun the last few years, being a latecomer to most parties. So here, on a date of no particular significance, is my shelfie, as I’ve been promising for some time now.

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