Jilly: What Would Your Library Be Like?

library-girlHow’s your weekend going? I seem to be feeling the urge to hibernate. Last Friday my husband went into town to catch up with a friend. I stayed home and dined on steamed chocolate pudding and custard accompanied by a large mug of hot chocolate. Don’t judge 😉 .

I had a shortlist of interesting, stimulating posts to offer today. I’m going to save them and go with the cozy self-indulgence theme instead. Do you have your own library? Not a Kindle, or a bunch of bookcases in the guest bedroom, but a private, personal temple dedicated to reading?

If you’ve ever read a historical romance or watched a period drama, chances are you’ve come across a library scene. It is, after all, a truth universally acknowledged that every hot hero should have a fabulous library in his mansion.

If you’ve ever visited an English stately home, chances are you’ll have realized that said libraries weren’t designed for comfort reading, but as a statement of the wealth, culture and education of their owners.

You might not be aware that this notion of a library is alive and thriving in the twenty-first century. If you are very, very wealthy and want to fill hundreds of linear feet of your home with books, you can commission an expert to create a private library for you. Click here to discover the services offered by Kinsey Marable, said to be the world’s leading bespoke librarian. Don’t skip the photographs :-).

Mr Marable will visit you to get a sense of your personality and interests, and if you have no specific requests, he will provide you with proprietary lists of titles that he and his team have built up over the past 20 years or so. If you want a library of first editions and your pockets are bottomless, he can do that, too, though it may take awhile.

If I had an insane amount of money, I’d buy a gorgeous house (not too big; I’m not a fan of live-in staff). I’d hire an amazing architect to transform it to my specifications. I would definitely want a library – it might be the biggest room in the house – but I can’t imagine commissioning somebody to buy books for me. Where’s the fun in that? My only criterion for buying a book is whether I want to read it, and the only person who’d know that is me. I have no interest in books as an investment, as an artifact, as interior design, or as a social/intellectual statement.

It’s fun to play What If? though. What kind of room would I want Amazing Architect to create to house all my favorite books – romance of all sub-genres, urban fantasy, travel, and biography?

I’d buy new print editions of everything, in trade paperback that I could read in full daylight and without wearing gloves. Half my lottery win would be my husband’s, so I’d share my temple to genre fiction with his detective stories, police procedurals, sci-fi, space opera and scientific biographies.

My library would be in a peaceful location. There would be no traffic, no noisy neighbors, no planes or helicopters flying over, no lawn-mowers and strictly no builders. Bird-song would be welcome. There would be a spectacular unspoiled view, probably rolling moorland and rocky outcrops (you can take the girl out of Derbyshire…). If I couldn’t find that, I’d settle for a seascape or a wildflower meadow or rolling acres dotted with sheep and cows.

The room would be spacious, with double-height ceilings and lots of light – skylights and picture windows along one wall. The lighting designer would have to be a wizard, because the light would be perfect no matter where in the room I chose to sit. The lighting systems (all recessed and hidden) would adjust automatically in response to changes in natural light so that reading conditions would always be ideal.

The temperature would be just right. No matter what the weather outside, it would be t-shirt and bare feet conditions.

The walls would be plain, painted a rich, deep golden color to match the polished golden wood floors and custom-made bookshelves.

None of the books would be shelved at giraffe-height, or back-breakingly low.

There would be comfortable leather sofas and armchairs, not too squishy and not too hard. They’d be big enough that I could tuck my feet up while I’m reading, and with matching footstools in case I want to stretch out. I’ve never tried a reclining chair, but maybe that would be a possibility.

There would be a door or archway to a spacious bathroom with a claw-footed bath tub, fluffy towels, scented candles, bath salts and bubble bath. The tub would fill fast with lovely hot water and would be just the right shape and size for me to soak and read. Across from the bathroom would be a well-stocked kitchen with excellent tea, coffee, wine, water and snacks.

There would be no phone, TV or internet, just a stereo tucked away somewhere.

And the perfect finishing touch? A ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign.

What would your library be like?

7 thoughts on “Jilly: What Would Your Library Be Like?

  1. Lovely!

    We do have a library/music room in our house that isn’t finished yet — in fact, it is being sadly neglected, and it’s almost full up with books because I spent two years taking in the abandoned books from other English teachers. So, I would want a curator and a library-trained maid in my ideal library.

    (-: Actually, my favorite library would be a small pantry with a good light and a reading chair — and a door that opened into any of the famous libraries in the world — L-space! (-: If we are going to fantasize, I’m going to fantasize that way. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about bugs eating my books, or dust or cats or any of the other myriad problems a home library faces.

    (-: And I’d never write again if I had that, probably. I’d just read until my legs withered and my brain exploded.

  2. I have a folder on my computer with fantasy library pictures, so I have some thoughts on this 🙂 There definitely need to be cozy reading places, including at least one window seat with a lovely bucolic view. I loved reading with a flashlight under the covers as a kid, so a little hidden reading space would be a bonus, as well as a spot with a fireplace and cozy quilts to snuggle in while reading in the winter months.

    I love Michaline’s idea of a door that opens into other famous libraries in the world. Along those same lines, how about a shelf that always has just the right book for your mood/interests at the time?

    I would definitely like someone to make sure the books were always dust-free and in good repair, but they would need to remain out of site.

    For now, I have a dedicated library room, filled with (dusty) books of my choosing. I’m working on the cozy seating area, but the rest may have to wait until Prince Charming sweeps me off to his magic castle.

    • Oooh, yes! I want the magic shelf, too! So often in the past couple of years, I’ve been jonesing for A Book, but nothing sounds quite right. I have several old favorites, but they aren’t on the same shelf. And, man, I could really use a library, period, where I could get books on whatever I’m researching at the moment. The internet is getting better and better about providing obscure stuff, though. One must know the magic words to unlock the Google, though.

      • Both of these! A magic shelf with always the right book, and while we’re playing with magic maybe a gizmo to suspend time while I’m reading. And yes, a research section – I’m putting that in a different area from my fiction collection.

        The Google is amazing until it isn’t. On Saturday I was wrestling with a scene and wanted to know the weight of a single kidney bean (I was tempted to write a post about why). No matter what question I asked, the interwebs would not tell me. I got cans of beans, sacks of beans, health benefits of beans, calorific content of beans, how many beans per serving, how to cook beans, everything but the answer I needed. I had to go to the supermarket, buy a packet, count them and calculate it.

        • Oh yes! A turn-off-time timer! A little pocket of eternity, big enough to hold the reading chair, a table and a lamp.

          Oooh, with all this magical stuff, we could have a delightful Bijou Library that would fit into almost any house! If we ever harness time and space, let’s remember this for the marketing plan! LOL.

          I am curious about the kidney bean, now. Straw that breaks the camel’s back? How much did it wind up weighing? I’m guessing three grams, dried. (I’m probably way off, LOL. Too heavy.)

        • Actually once I’d bought a packet of beans I didn’t need to weigh one. I filled a plastic freezer bag with a couple of hundred and used that to get my head around the scale of my idea. I was using the bean as a proxy for something in my story, and I wanted to guess how many would be in a bushel and how many in a tun (really big barrel), and how big that would be.

          FWIW, after a bit of tweaking I decided that one tun would hold 250,000 beans, which was a really convenient number. The tun/barrel is probably six times the size of the big chest of drawers next to my writing sofa. The scene I was fretting about involves two barrels’ worth of bean proxies (twelve chest of drawers worth), so I got a really clear picture in my head of how the mechanics would work. Probably nobody but me would care or notice, but originally I had envisaged many more, and then I realized that didn’t stack up with the rest of the story. So now you know!! 😉

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