books in the home

by Sharon Santoni

bookshelves with flowers and painting

One of the first things I notice when I visit a home for the first time, is ‘where do they put their books,’ for despite my mild, noticeable, chronic addiction to the screen, I am still one of those who loves a house filled with books.

In this house there are book shelves downstairs in the smaller salon where we watch TV,  and books in bedrooms too.   They need a regular tidying and dusting, and sometimes it is time to sort and redistribute or even give away, but I know that without them our home  would feel a little strange.

books on bedside table

You can tell a lot about someone from the way their books are arranged and my packed shelves were not conveying the message.   Storing books is not always easy, and bookshelves can quickly look untidy.   A while ago I toyed with the idea of covering the volumes with a uniform colour (you can see that idea here, but quickly realised it was not for me…. alternative solutions had to be found.

bookshelves with flowers and painting

Today our books are sorted by subject matter but not alphabetically   The space is not only reserved for books, but also lightened up with ‘bits’ that change with the seasons,  The result is  a happy mix of books and paintings and small objects … a vase, a statue … at the moment there is even a tiny birds nest that fell from a tree at the end of summer.

Larger books are piled on low tables for easy access and as pure decoration.  They are read more regularly if they are within easy reach.   Bedside tables have a small selection of ‘current reading’, with volumes regularly crossing the bed from ‘his’ to ‘her’ pile.

So tell me, in today’s busy world, and clean cut, dust free homes, how do you like to store your books?  Do they still have a place in your daily living, do you sort them, do you collect … or have you gone down the minimalist route and cleaned out your shelves?

books on bedside table

71 comments

Lorrie October 14, 2015 - 4:36 pm

Books in every room, I say. They add a lot of character to a home. I’m afraid I still collect books, although I do try to weed them out a couple of times a year. Some of them, though, are like old friends and I hope to keep them forever. Lovely display ideas, Sharon. Mixing books and objets d’art is a great formula.

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Isla Tullos October 14, 2015 - 4:38 pm

Still buying…what can I say? Addicted to piles of them!

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Whims October 14, 2015 - 4:46 pm

Isla like you I also am Addicted to books….. I have even piled my large books up and used it for a small end table, LOL

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Susan October 14, 2015 - 4:46 pm

My paperweight reads “I cannot live without books”. My home reflects that sentiment! We use our living room as our library…it is my happy place. ❤️❤️❤️

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Rosemary October 14, 2015 - 4:47 pm

I have now added yours to my collection! I also have a few objects d’ art mixed in with my books. I definitely have a problem “letting go of old favorites” and have them in almost every room. Loved the vase of flowers on the stack.

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Julie Close October 14, 2015 - 4:51 pm

Dear Sharon, this has nothing to do with books, lol, but I love the afghan you have lying on the end of the bed! It is just beautiful. Did you make it yourself? Just makes you want to wrap it around yourself on a chilly night! Could you please show a larger picture of it, and maybe a link on how to knit it, or where to buy it?

I truly love getting your emails here in Canada. I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Provence 2 years ago, and now when you post pictures, it takes me back there and I can feel the sunshine & smell the air again. So thank you so much! And please, maybe another story? I so enjoyed the last one & the pictures you had accompany it.

So thank you again for my refreshment of France each time I open my mail. Julie

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Sharon Santoni October 15, 2015 - 10:07 am

Hi Julie

Actually I didn’t make this bedcover, not being one of the world’s great knitters 🙂 I bought it from a local store

x

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Marian from UK October 14, 2015 - 4:58 pm

A home without books is a home without colour! The colour of the stories, the colour of the titles and of the sleeves, all stored rainbow-like on the shelf. Then there’s the lovely soft old leather-bound books with fading gold lettering, something warm and solid about them. And books have been here for centuries, conveying thoughts, knowledge, love and art – beautifully ornate manuscripts written & decorated by hand – how can we ever let that ancient history go? Modern technology has its place, but I don’t think the feel of a book in your hand and the soothing turning of a page will ever go out of fashion. But storing them is another problem and thank you Sharon for providing some inspiration!! Have a lovely day.

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Diana Banic October 14, 2015 - 5:03 pm

I have many books everywhere in my house…also in bathrooms…!I love my books,and I put them on everyshelves I have in house…!I love to see them …i can’t imagine houses without books…!I usualy put old vaso with flowers or little things near…!I don’t like to sort them in alphabetical order…I prefer to sourch when I need them…!

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Nancy October 14, 2015 - 5:07 pm

Sharon, oh yes we have books!
I am a retired librarian….and over the years trying to make my bookcases look like the magazines or like your beautiful shelves is the bane of my existence….I try, but they multiply and become disorganized in the blink of an eye!
However, a couple of years ago we took all the books out (weeding as we went) and painted the shelves as the new floor went in. While the shelves were out, we contemplated not having any books….but the room felt oddly empty and cold….so they came back….
The shelves looked fantastic …..for a good while. Then, we collected again.
The problem now(besides being “messy”) that I have is one I haven’t had for a very, very long time. My little grandson just discovered the bookcase….I will have to rework the case to adjust for little people ……got suggestions??
Thank you for your post….you are right….so many households in magazines at least are bookless…..
Nancy
wildoakdesigns.blogspot.com

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Jennifer October 15, 2015 - 5:49 pm

I have twins, who were climbers as babies/toddlers and who love books. We have hundreds of books all over the house.

Suggestions: First, bolt the case to the wall! Next, keep board books and other indestructible kid’s books on the lowest shelf. You can also place them in baskets on the bottom shelf, as the colors can be bright and chaotic. You will have to re-shelve all books for the foreseeable future. (My twins, now 10, still throw their books all over) Place anything to don’t want ripped, or chewed on *twice* as high as you think the small darling can reach.

Enjoy your grandson!
Jennifer

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Audrey Jensen October 14, 2015 - 5:08 pm

I love books in a home! I was wondering whose fabric is on the pillow on the bed. It has one of the colors I have on my own bed. Thanks!

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Mary Alvarez October 14, 2015 - 5:08 pm

Hi Sharon, My love affair with books began before I could walk. My Granddad used to read to me and I was fascinated by books from that time on. I have them all about my home. In the kitchen, on my desk, the living room, and in a piece (and estate sale find) where I store favorites that I re-read upon occasion. I do have the Ipad and store some on there for travel. But it just does not feel or smell like having a bound copy of written literature in hand…heaven!

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Sharon October 14, 2015 - 5:11 pm

The books seem to outnumber the spaces designated for them. Yet I cannot discard a single one. A home without books is not a home.

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christiane October 14, 2015 - 5:15 pm

a home without books can’t be my home … I have them everywhere.. and as from today , I’m the lucky owner of a beautiful , heavy specimen which I’ve read and enjoyed
in one go this very morning in my wintergarden … neglecting other duties….(it keeps raining …so I feel less guilty …)

everybody must have guessed by now , that I spent a few happy hours In the company of your stylish french girl friends….thank you , Sharon!

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Catherine October 14, 2015 - 5:31 pm

We have a room off the master bedroom that was originally a nursery, now an office/library. Even with 16′ x 9′ of shelves it isn’t nearly enough. My family are all voracious readers…all with our own favorites and must keeps. I have had to move the beloved childrens’ books into boxes…ready to pull out when I have little ones visiting. And all the books that come out only during the holidays are in lovely baskets to be kept close to comfy reading chairs. Maybe the teen “angst” books will be allowed to be stored or donated…at least culled a bit…when a little more time goes by. Fiction is all organized in alphabetical order by author. Then there are shelves of History, Garden, Needlework, Poetry, Travel/Language, Biography, Science. There are stacks of books in every room. (And sadly, in the attic.) The shelves also display mementos of our travels, busts of favorite people (Thomas Jefferson, etc.) Not enough space by far!

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Wendy October 14, 2015 - 5:42 pm

I’m loving your bedside! Last week I discovered bookstagram on Instagram and am in love with all the pictures of books and bookshelves. Go have a look!

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Mickey Wood October 14, 2015 - 5:46 pm

I have books everywhere including bathrooms, laundry room, & car! I could not live without them. My grandmother’s home was the same & included a dedicated library with barrister bookcases, no less! My library has bookshelves from Walmart, but they do the job. Everything is sorted by subject, but not alpha w/in subject. Maybe someday l’ll get that organizedagain, but lost track when we mover & just wanted to get thinges unpacked. “Where are the books?” always pops into my head when I go someplace new.

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Melissa October 14, 2015 - 5:49 pm

I have lots of books and don’t plan on getting rid of them (although I go through my collection periodically and weed out the ones I don’t really read). I grew up in a house with bookshelves in almost every room and have read everything I could get my hands on for as long as I can remember. My mom used to read to me every night before I went to sleep, which established a life long habit of reading at bedtime. I may end up getting an e-reader for novels I know I will only read once (mysteries, etc.), but nothing can replace the feel, look, and smell of an actual book. I have many of my mom’s old books that are like old friends that I read over and over again. Nothing can beat sitting in front of a roaring fire on a cold rainy day with a good book.

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Lp October 14, 2015 - 5:58 pm

Perhaps a book shopping tour a la “French Country Home Style”.
Included would have to be the cafés that enhance and compliment the experience.
Books…the hearth of the home…come around, have a sit, I have a story to tell…
They are like the flowers on the entry of a home, they perfume the path.
All the best

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Colleen Taylor October 14, 2015 - 6:02 pm

Our books are just about in every room. My office has the bulk of them because that’s where I need them to be. Many are manuals that I need to refer to at times. I contemplated that colored “decorina” type look a few years back, just couldn’t do it. I didn’t have time for the nonsense of it all & how in the world would I find anything. Sharon, how would I ever find your book if it was covered? I love your book! X

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Patricia Cowan October 14, 2015 - 6:07 pm

oh, I absolutely agree with all the comments…been collecting books for over 30 years on design, gardening and homes…especially all things FRENCH! And, while displaying, i always mix with my collections…of which there are many…of things such as French match strikers, old digging forks, tiny boxes, paperweights, and photos, and a great deal of etc.

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Debbie Spence October 14, 2015 - 6:09 pm

Hi my name is Debbie and I’m a book-aholic. I ran out of room years ago and have hauled my excess to my office which offers much more book loving space. I keep the ones at home that have the most beautiful bindings for my decor, and use my office as a library where I can retrieve books I need. My first grandbaby is due in a month and I have already accumulated quite a collection for her. Electronic books are not for me. Give me a beautiful hard cover book and I’ll read it, decorate with it, and share it. I also love to sell my favorites at my little shop. Love your post and the lovely photos of BOOKS, the perfect decorating accessory.

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Cindy October 14, 2015 - 6:18 pm

I love to read and prefer to hold a real book in my hand rather than a tablet or notebook. I am a frequent visitor to our hometown library. I love the small, look and feel of books. They are on display in all our rooms, including the bathrooms! I am so glad I found your blog and I look forward to buying your new book as well. Thank you!

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[email protected] In My Tree October 14, 2015 - 6:18 pm

I also have books in every room of my house.
Some have dust on them
I have large coffee table books piled on the floor in front of my bookshelves which are full.
I just went to a book sale at my local library and bought more books, some pretty some just a good read

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Botanic Bleu October 14, 2015 - 6:25 pm

Sharon,
Reading has always been one of my passions, sweeping me away to new landscapes, introducing me to imaginary new friends (book characters), giving me insight into different cultures, and delighting me with beautiful images. Some books I’ve kept for decades, but others have been given away as I try to declutter. Now, most of my pleasure reading is done on my iPhone. This helps me keep the clutter in check. The book shelves are still full, but include more non-book items than in the past.

It seems to me we are living at a time when there has been a significant change in reading… ebooks are replacing traditional paper books. More and more book stores around me are closing. I cannot even name a small independent book retailer, and even the large bookstore chains are closing their doors. Those that remain open have a huge area for selling electronic readers and accessories.

Another piece of evidence that ebooks are mainstream…. spellcheck did not flag ebook.
Declutter on the other hand was flagged by spellcheck.

Judith

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Joanne October 14, 2015 - 6:36 pm

When I was much younger (in my thirties) I was a bit of a gypsy. Wherever I called home, even if for a month, I would take out a library card and have as many books around me as the library would allow me to have. They are, to me, very comforting. I remember going into Barnes and Noble for the first time and shaking inside with excitement.
Joanne

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Hattee Christian October 14, 2015 - 6:43 pm

My Number 1 problem with today’s interior design, mostly in magazines, is the lack of soul. Absolutely anyone could live in the rooms and no one would be able to name one single thing about that person evidenced by the design. Who wants to come home to anyone’s house? Books give soul better than anything else. And built-in bookcases do it better than the most beautiful free-standing pieces (Sorry, Mr. Baldwin.). This is heresy, I realize. Thank you for this post, Sharon, and so glad to see that there are still book-lovers out there.

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Haley October 14, 2015 - 6:52 pm

As a university student, I would feel lost without my books. I proudly hauled a small bookshelf with me to my dorm room my freshman year of college, and continue to neatly display my collection (perhaps to my roommate’s chagrin).

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Dorka October 14, 2015 - 6:53 pm

I used to have books in every room and a selection in german and english (written by hungarian writers and well translated) in the guesthouses.Some years ago when my daughters left home and we rebuilt our rooms I got a separate “salon” for myself with bookcases around the walls.I love it though since then all the other rooms have books showing around again.Now I have the sad event to select the library of my old father, and I often find myself reading rather than selecting.To give the old books in good hands is priority for me.Nobody in the family can understand this they read also but maily e-books.Ijust have to smell paper! With love from the Puszta in Hungary Dorka http://www.dorottyaudvar.co.hu

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Adelia October 14, 2015 - 8:04 pm

Dorka, so sorry for your loss.
I can just imagine the many friendly presences surrounding you as you read and sort through your father’s library and help the books find their way to the right hands. May it bring you healing and joy in the process as well.
Also, I am very happily surprised to see so many other book lovers. As you see, we may be surrounded by friends and family who don’t understand, but what a joy to discover others around the world with a similar passion for books.
Warm wishes from California.

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Deborah Wilkins October 14, 2015 - 7:01 pm

Books in the home – Amen, Sister!!

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Freda October 14, 2015 - 7:40 pm

I like to leave a large picture book lying out open, and turn a page each day. We currently have a fabulous book about Venice as our ‘day book’ as we are going to live there for a month this winter. It is a good way to enjoy art books too! When children come along they like finding their collection on the bottom shelf….

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Sharon Santoni October 15, 2015 - 10:09 am

I love this idea Freda, especially making it a shared pleasure 🙂

xx

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Jennifer October 14, 2015 - 8:10 pm

Books, books and more books. Everywhere! A house is not a home without them.

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Janet October 14, 2015 - 8:33 pm

I find books to be restorative like a good cup of tea on a rainy day with a good friend.

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Margaret miller October 14, 2015 - 9:02 pm

My aim in life was to have books in every room of my home…. From foyer to baths to laundry room. Mission accomplished. Finally I embroidered a sample with the words ” home is where the books are”.

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Liz October 14, 2015 - 9:17 pm

What more can one say than all of the above? Ditto, ditto and ditto!!
Liz

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Karena October 14, 2015 - 9:32 pm

Dear Sharon,
I must admit that I have books in every room, in bookshelves (along with some favorite accessories), on desks, on side tables! I still love to receive or buy new books!

xoxo
Karena
The Arts by Karena
Palm Beach Chic

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Our French Oasis October 14, 2015 - 9:33 pm

We have books everywhere, when we moved back to France, we packed boxes and boxes of them. All five of our children are book lovers, our 19 year old still has all of her Enid Blyton series on shelves in her bedroom and woe betide anyone who moves them! I love to read before I go to sleep and it has to be a book, not a kindle, nor a magazine or laptop, just a good old fashioned book. We have cookery books, design books, fiction, non fiction, ancient family books, modern books, they all have a place in our home.

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laney October 14, 2015 - 9:38 pm

…simply…”a house without books…is like a man without a soul”…your home…and blog…are lovely…blessings laney

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maria October 14, 2015 - 9:51 pm

I love books and will never settle for digital ones!! I don’t like how they look in the room on shelves, though! I think besides grouping by subject, I would further break down and group into same colors, like a rainbow! Right now they are piled here and there, with the bulk packed away for a soon-to-happen move. I am thinking that once the dust settles, I would possibly think about putting them behind the closed doors of an armoire or cabinet(s). Thank you for wonderful inspiration always!

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betsy October 14, 2015 - 10:08 pm

I have plenty of books in every room. Some lying flat on end tables by beds holding a lamp.
I am thinking when grands especially come to visit, they will want to read. I make sure the ones placed are acceptable to ones staying in the room at the time.
Plenty bookshelves in den with books as I love to read late in the evening by the fire.
betsy

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Jane Nash October 14, 2015 - 10:32 pm

Books in every room, even the garage! I couldn’t do without my books. They are like friends, old and new. Jane x

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Irene Peterson October 14, 2015 - 11:34 pm

Preparing to move to another state and have most possessions already packed away.
I do miss my books so very much – I feel a bit naked!

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Iris October 14, 2015 - 11:36 pm

Books? Yes. Have many as well as magazines. Most are on a custom bookshelf by our wine cellar a wonderful nook where I wish I would spend more time. I do arrange my books by colour blocking which really makes no sense as to subject matter. It does look nice but may seem unorganized to some. I also add some favorite items such as small prints etc. I change it up for the season. Next being Christmas. But I must say I love to read and would always need a spot wherever I am for my books

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Sally October 15, 2015 - 12:23 am

Books are part of the heart and soul of a comfortable home.

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JudyMac October 15, 2015 - 1:13 am

Love this post. I absolutely concur with all of the above comments. I have hundreds of books on shelves I had built in after I moved into my condo–my first requirement was an entire wall of shelves. And I’m proud to say, I’ve probably read most of them. Along with the books on the shelves sit pottery, artwork, personal pictures, mementos, etc. My shelves might be a little “busier” than yours, but I love everything I see when I look at them.

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Cindi Brumpton October 15, 2015 - 1:15 am

books are old friends, accessories, reference, beloved here. I too mix my book shelves with photos and sculptures. I cannot imagine a world without books. It’s true there is only so much space and I do use my local library. I am also a big fan of http://www.bookbub.com, which publishers advertise deeply discounted or free e-books! Love that!

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karen October 15, 2015 - 2:34 am

hi isla
Our home is ours. Others aren’t going to influence our home. Books abound here. Yesterday I just typed up a quote by Groucho Marks , used a huge size letter and a font called Mom’s Typewriter. Looks cute hung in a frame. The quote is “I think tv is very educational, whenever someone turns it on I go into another room and read a great book.”
That is a beautiful pansey painting in the first photo, btw.

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Avril October 15, 2015 - 2:45 am

I agree with all the above love my books, just received your book Sharon enjoying it immensely.

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Katherine October 15, 2015 - 3:20 am

My decor, garden, fashion, and photography books are out around the house. They’re on display really and I love that you can just sit in any room and find a book of interest at your finger tips. My ‘current reads’ are always at my beside table with the next in line to read underneath waiting for my attention.

Love the pretty pink knit blanket on the bed in your picture. Could you show us more of it and the bed?

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Lynne Gaylor October 15, 2015 - 5:23 am

I have so many books in my house I could open my own library!!! I LOVE books….and magazines, anything in print! I use them all over my house, and the piles, and bookshelves are overflowing. But that is only fair, because books are my passion, and hunting and collecting deerheads and other taxidermy critters is my husbands!! So we have quite the unusual household! But I love it! Can’t part with my books, but I am trying!

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Cecilia October 15, 2015 - 1:49 pm

I have books in every room – a house without books is a house without a soul. That being said we are in the processes of downsizing and I weeded out “some” of my books but the new place has bookcases in every room. I use a tablet but I still need “real” books. I am addicted and I cannot pass a book store without going in and I am depressed that so many have closed in our area I really miss them.

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Julie October 15, 2015 - 2:01 pm

Thanks for letting me know about the throw….afraid I just can’t pop down to your store and get one…flying from another country to buy one seems a little extreme, lol!!
I’ll just have to keep an eye out for one here. And by the way, I do love reading, way to much!! I have been using my e-reader, a gift from my daughter, to the max!! I download from our library, so it’s very convenient. Having a small grand-daughter, I have to keep the books I do have in a safer place, she likes to crumple all the pages!

Thanks again for replying!

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Jennifer October 15, 2015 - 6:01 pm

We have hundreds of books all over the house! In my bedrooms, books are all over the bedside table, and in a drift on the floor. (I just went and counted; 12 on the table, and 17 on the floor, plus 3 magazines) My husband has a bookcase as a bedside table. We both have e readers, but mostly use those for travel. My twins had books in two cases, plus covering almost every horizontal surface in the upstairs family room. I have a large collection of cook books, as well. But! We are considering a move to another state next summer, and so have started the painful task of paring down stuff, including the books. But I’m getting ruthless about culling. Moving is so stressful, I really want to take only the items I cannot live without.

Wish me luck!

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cindy hattersley October 16, 2015 - 6:42 am

I am glad you decided to bag the idea of one color. To me the books have no soul when displayed like that. I like them naturally presented even if they are untidy!

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Deb October 16, 2015 - 9:41 am

So relieved so many others have homes with lots of books. My husband loves books and we have two big bookcases in the living room that are overflowing with books along with boxes filled with books in the spare bedrooms. We did donate lots but somehow we always end up with more books. I love books also but its time to sort through them all and decide what stays and what goes. I could not live in a house without at least one big bookshelf and a couple of books on the bedside table. I still have a childrens cookbook my mother gave me when I was ten. It has simple recipes and cute drawings. I think the modern way of decorating with no bookshelves or books anywhere looks cold and uninviting but I guess some people prefer it that way. I don’t like clutter but I don’t feel comfortable when there are no books or interesting items in a home.

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Penelope October 16, 2015 - 3:22 pm

I love books too and being in a new home, we included two bookcases! One in our “french” room for our books about France and our travels there. The other is for books we love to read or have read! Reading takes us to new places! All my children are book lovers too! Your rooms are always so lovely!

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Sylvia Faye October 17, 2015 - 12:42 am

How wonderful to read other book lovers comments. Grateful to hear books are meant to be in every room in the home..I concur with this. Glad to hear also that there are others who have ‘book clutter’. One sorts, gives away, re-buys and the stacks begin once more. Love all sorts of books…decor, Saints, the FAith, travel, etc. and our children also loved books; especially our daughters and one of our sons.

Henry Ward Beecher said, “A library is not a luxury; but one of the necessities of life.”

Loved the post…

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Susan October 17, 2015 - 4:19 am

I have books in every room. Love them and continue to purchase them and occasionally go through them and donate them or bring to a resale shop. My daughter just received her master’s degree in library science. Her apartment is also full of books.
PS – Love that blue and white pillow!

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patricia Civel October 17, 2015 - 8:51 pm

Je suis votre blog depuis longtemps. Je l’adore.
J’aime tout ce dont vous parler.
Les livres, ils me procure aussi un bonheur immense.

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Patricia October 19, 2015 - 11:12 am

J’ai oublié de vous demander si votre livre est en français. J’aimerais beaucoup l’acheter.
Bonne journée.

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Suzy Turner October 19, 2015 - 5:20 pm

As an author myself, I am (and always have been) book mad. Unfortunately my husband doesn’t share the same obsession as I do. In fact, he doesn’t like read at all! He hasn’t even read a single of the 10 books I’ve published myself. So most of my books aren’t as well displayed as I’d like. He also likes clean lines and no clutter! There’s no hope for me!
Suzy x
http://www.suzyturner.com

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Agnes Irene October 19, 2015 - 9:31 pm

How wonderful to hear from so many book lovers! I couldn’t live without books, and have one set of bookshelves that remain pretty to look at – with Victorian vases and dishes, candles, and old photos scattered throughout – the rest of the book areas in my home have a life of their own and completely take over the rooms.
As both a reader and a writer, books are as essential to me as food.
Thank you, Sharon, for another beautiful blog post – and one especially close to my heart.
Agnes Irene

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lyn french October 19, 2015 - 10:37 pm

i love books-the smell and sound of a new book when i open it!we have books in most rooms,for us,the grandys,and visitors on the coffee table and kitchen.reading in my peaceful bedroom a favourite.

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Ingrid Pearson October 20, 2015 - 12:56 am

I love any thing about European country side, I enjoy all the FB post and I would cherish a copy of your book.

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D. A. Wolf October 22, 2015 - 2:14 am

Books, paintings and small objects… What could be better?

I admit, one of the first things I notice entering someone’s home is books, or hraven forbid… their absence.

Lovely post and lovely images

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Gina October 23, 2015 - 8:52 am

So lovely

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Deanna October 23, 2015 - 9:54 pm

My book collection numbers in the thousands. We have a room which is a combination library/music room but we have book shelves in most other rooms, too. I even display some on the outer edges of the stairs.

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Susan October 28, 2015 - 11:05 am

Simply cannot live without books. I have them in every room including the bathrooms! A house without books lacks character and warmth. Periodically I go through mine and donate to the library in our small South Texas town.

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