My parents recently confessed a sort of “escape plan” they’ve been hatching as they edge near the idea of retirement. If they’d spoken in Mandarin and confessed a double life, I could not have been more startled and impressed!
Their nearby Manhattan is involved, as is Charleston (don’t get me started on how I love Charleston), but most ambitious is their plan to live in Paris for six months. Considering Paris real estate costs, I have teased that they could find themselves folded sideways into a 100 square foot atelier with a limited glimpse of daylight, if one were to climb a ladder and peek out beneath attic rafters. But, between you and me, I like to imagine them here, in this lovely flat I found for rent (at book-a-flat.com) during my continued hunt for rooms that epitomize this spirit we share, of Living With Books.
For the book lovers among us, don’t you love the authenticity of the books in the flat – as elegant as the room is, they look read, don’t they?
While my parents led us on tours of elegant plantations in the South, or castles and country houses in Ireland and Scotland, I must confess my spot for the elegance of decay. Look at the image on my novel project page and you will see how Havana has had its hooks in me for some years, tracking the neighborhoods a friend once had to leave. There were no books in the mildew and hurricane dampened pictures I have of current-day Cuba, but I can’t help be inspired by this iconic picture, below, of Hemingway’s home outside Havana.
You might notice that, in picking great pictures of “living with books,” I love a room where books are clearly important to the inhabitants, but that doesn’t have to mean endless walls of books. In these rooms, as in the bookshelves my mom includes in each bedroom she designs, the importance of a little library is clear without overwhelming the room.
In my last house, I found that trying to display all of my books in one place went beyond celebrating the pleasure I felt in them. Instead, they became a weighty presence in the room. In concepts of feng shui, it is important to not have things stacked high and towering in a room — as they symbolize and affect your spirit as “things hanging over you.”
If a collection seems burdensome, especially consider thinning books on higher shelves. No reader’s pride is lost to spread your collection between more than one room!
To read the first installment of this series, click here. Or, I’d love to hear your own experiences or suggestions for the next installment in the comments below!
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