My personal library and book collection is rather small. Smaller than I’d like it to be. My husband and I keep our collection in our second bedroom/study, which also houses our desk, desktop computer and printer, my craft supplies, houseplants, overflow baking supplies, our drying rack for clothes and various other items. Our books essentially live in our “junk room.” To say the space is cramped is an understatement.
We keep our books on a bookcase, an old television stand, stacked on the floor along the wall and in the closet. Our collection is kept small for practical reasons: we have moved several times in the past eight years and we’re obviously short on space as well as the cash required to buy more books. Every year we try to spring clean our collection by weeding out books we haven’t read or have outgrown. It’s a desperate attempt to corral our books into a more organized, usable space while we’re still living in an apartment. While we sift through our assortment of cookbooks, gardening books, field guides and fiction, I daydream about the home library I’d love to have.
These are some of the practical and outlandish amenities I’d add to the space. When I first started the list I figured it’d have maybe three or four things on it, but it has gone from a simple library wish list to a luxury library dream. I’m basically the mouse in If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff. If you give me a giant room that I can fill with books I’m going to want floor to ceiling shelves… if you give me floor to ceiling shelves I’m going to want a rolling ladder so I can reach the top shelves… you get the idea. I won’t have a personal library for a while, but when I do, I would be thrilled to have any of the things on my list. For now though, I’m going to enjoy curating my perfect home library. A girl can dream, right?
And since I don’t have any of these awesome home library additions yet, I’ve gone to Pinterest to illustrate my dream library for you.
Floor to Ceiling Bookcases + Rolling Bookshelf Ladder
Instead of settling for a mismatched collection of bookcases and other furniture pretending to be bookcases, I’d have floor to ceiling book shelves built into my library. This would necessitate having a rolling bookshelf ladder à la the one fellow book lover, Belle, rides in the bookshop before singing Bonjour with the rest of her village in Beauty and the Beast. I’d be OK with that. 😉
Large Windows for Ample Natural Light + Houseplants
Plenty of natural sunlight and air purifying houseplants are also at the top of my ideal library list. Don’t the above photos just make you want to curl up with a good book?
A Room with a View
Speaking of greenery, I would love my library to look out on, or even open into the garden. A garden sitting area with a few outdoor chairs and cushions wouldn’t hurt either. I can picture myself rereading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in the library before stepping outside to do some weeding in the garden.
Hardwood Floors + A Large Rug
Hardwood floors would look amazing with floor to ceiling bookshelves. But hardwood floors can be cold so I’d want a nice cozy, possibly brightly colored, area rug to fill the room. A fireplace, like the above right photo, and a cup of hot cocoa or coffee would be a welcome addition during a winter reading session.
Ever since I saw Crawl (played by Pauly Shore) swinging in a hammock in his dorm room in the 1993 movie Son in Law, I have wanted a hammock inside my house. Not just inside my house, but inside my library. Sure, swinging in a hammock with a copy of Alexander McCall Smith’s latest No 1. Ladies’ Detective Agency novel on a lazy June afternoon sounds lovely. But imagine being able to do that in the middle of a freezing Ohio winter, a cup of red bush tea nearby and a blizzard brewing outside. Even better.
I wouldn’t want to spend all of my time swinging in my hammock when I read, so a comfy sofa would be needed. Plus, I might let other people read in my library and they would probably like somewhere to sit.
I love all of the furniture in the above photos – especially the green sofa and the salmon chaise lounge. The gray loveseat looks comfortable too!
I would love to have a little reading nook! This could be a quiet corner in the library itself, or something small and private in another part of the house. Having a quiet and comfortable space to read and display books like a reading nook might be all of the space I get as far as personal libraries go, but if it’s as nice as either of the above pictured nooks, I think I can make it work.
I have had cats climbing our book shelves like in the far left photo. It’s not as cute as the little while cat makes it out to be! Emma frequently pulls books and knick knacks off our bookcase when she’s hungry (it’s her way of asking “when’s dinner?”). Maybe if the cats had their own shelves to climb and explore, they’d leave the books alone? Please?
But, I’ve always thought these cat shelves looked cool and this is my dream library, so it’s on the list. 🙂
Cute & Quirky Bookends
I’ve never had enough space on a bookshelf to need bookends. Even before Kenneth and I got married and combined our book collections, I had enough books or other stuff on my bookcase that there just wasn’t room or a need for bookends. I would make up for that in my dream library. I love the quirky geometric bookends that I could DIY, but it would also be fun to scour an antique flea market or Ebay for some vintage cat bookends too. Those cats would be allowed on the bookshelf.
This one is mostly self-explanatory. I’d like to frame quotes from my favorite authors or snippets from my favorite books in pretty frames. They would go in whatever available wall space my library would have, which shouldn’t be too much, considering the floor to ceiling bookshelves.
These are some of the literary themed quotes I would want to include:
I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.
― Mark Twain
When I got [my] library card, that was when my life began.
― Rita Mae Brown
The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.
― Jane Austen
Rule number one: Don’t fuck with librarians.
― Neil Gaiman
The library is the worst group of people ever assembled in history. They’re mean, conniving, rude, and extremely well-read, which makes them dangerous.
― Leslie Knope
I like snarky quotes, like the one by Jane Austen about intolerably stupid people, and funny ones like the last Neil Gaiman quote and the quote from Leslie Knope, played by Amy Poehler on Parks and Recreation. The Parks Dept. doesn’t get along with Pawnee’s head librarian or her staff, which is the main reason for her dislike of the library. I find it hilarious.
Dedicated Space just for Library Books
Right now I keep my library books in a little book house I made with a house shaped storage box I bought at Target and decorated with literary quotes (top left photo). But if you’ve been reading my book reviews, you may have noticed that I have run out of space and am stacking library books behind, next to and above my book house.
My dream library would need more space and maybe even a system to make sure books get back to the library on time. I love the book carts and the wagon, but I adore the round wall bookshelf! Books could be sorted by type, color or due date to keep everything nice and tidy (and to avoid late fees!).
Wooden Writing Desk
In addition to reading my favorite tomes in my library, it would also be my preferred writing space, as it is now. I like to think that writing near books (and working with books in my day job as a library services assistant) allows me to absorb the other writers’ creative juices. In the very least it’s inspiring to be surrounded by books!
We already own a really nice wooden desk that would work perfectly, but I’d prefer not to have our computer on it. The internet is a distracting place and while I end up typing most of my work on the computer, I write more when I’m not able to access Facebook, YouTube or Buzzfeed. I love how simple and tidy the desks above look.
Large wooden table + Puzzles + Board Games
The last piece of the puzzle (ha!) would be a large table and chairs for playing board games or putting together a puzzle. We love board games, it’s something that Kenneth and I do with our families during the holidays or when we don’t feel like watching a movie or Netflix.
It would be awesome to have dedicated space for puzzles and games. Right now we use a large piece of particle board to store puzzles we’re working on. Since the cats can’t be trusted to leave the puzzle alone at night or when we’re not home during the day, we have to (carefully) carry the board from the dining or living room to the study each time we finish for the day. It’s a hassle.
Having space in our library for games could make it the room we most use to host friends and family for dinner and a game. The library is one of my favorite places to go outside of my home, why wouldn’t my home library be the life of the party in my home?
Having more space to store my books would mean that I could finally add books to our collection! As I’ve probably mentioned before, I’m big on library books and would definitely still be using the library even if I had unlimited funds to buy all the books I wanted.
These are some of the books that I would love to have my own personal copies of. They are books that hold a special place in my heart, books that I would definitely reread and books that I would reference often.
Books I would add to my collection:
- The entire No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
- The Sarah Woolson Mystery series by Shirley Tallman
- The Ethan Gage Adventures by William Dietrich
- How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell
- Barnes & Noble’s Collectible Classics (we have several of these, pictured above, and would love to expand our collection)
- Wicked Plants + Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart
- All of Jan Brett’s illustrated children’s books and other various books from my childhood
- More cookbooks! I am really interested in themed cookbooks based on books and TV shows right lately. I would add Orange is the New Black Presents: The Cookbook, The Alice in Wonderland Cookbook: A Culinary Diversion and Dinner with Mr. Darcy: Recipes Inspired by the Novels of Jane Austen.
Something I look forward to when thinking about my ideal library is being able to organize it. I’d have space to house fiction separately from non-fiction, a place for all of my cookbooks and a separate section for our natural history books, field guides and garden reference books. Jan Brett’s books would have a special spot in my library, she is the author and illustrator who first inspired me to put pen to paper.
My dream library is currently just that, a dream. But it’s a lovely dream that I hope to someday make a beautiful reality, bookends and all. 🙂
What would you put in your dream library (if money and space were of no concern?)