Life in a London Flat #5 - Bookshelves

I love books; I can't live without them. We have been successful at simplifying many of our possessions, but books are impossible to part with.

Sometimes I think we're going sink under the weight of all the books in our London flat. I worry that, as we buy more books and pile them into the bookshelf, we'll have to build a buttress outside to hold both the floor and the wall up. Otherwise we might collapse into our neighbour's flat below.

When I look at our bookshelf, each book tells a story. Not just the story within its pages, but also the story of who I was and what I was thinking the moment I read it. A bookshelf is like an autobiography.  When I visit someone's house, I love taking a peek at their bookshelves, as I can tell so much about their interests and habits by looking at the titles on the spines. Cookbooks. Travel books. Novels. Poetry. Art books. They all reveal aspects of our characters.

Books allow us to enter imaginatively into someone else's life.  And when we do that, we learn to sympathize with other people.  But the real surprise is that we also learn truths about ourselves, about our own lives, that somehow we hadn't been able to see before.

So, tip #5 for

Life in a London flat

is: proudly display your books, they are part of who you are (and related... tip #5.1 is hide your TV... ours is behind the hinged panel below the shelves).

I don't ascribe to the trends stating that we should recover our books in neutral dust-jackets, or arrange them by size or colour so the bookshelves look like rainbows. Having been a librarian's assistant in a past life (nerd alert!), I try to arrange my books alphabetically and in genres, such as fiction, non-fiction, poetry, etc.  Our books are bright and colourful, and add an injection of personality into our small, serene little flat. 

Our built-in bookshelf was built by the amazing

Anne van Mansfeld

, who worked as a boat builder in Holland before moving to London and starting his cabinetry business. He works with navy-style attention to detail and precision. 

So many thoughts. So many ideas. So many memories. So many ways our minds have been challenged and broadened.

So here's a question: do your bookshelves tell your story?

"A little library, growing every year, 

is an honourable part of a man's history.  

It is a man's {and woman's} duty to have books."

Henry Ward Beecher

"When you reread a classic, 

you do not see more in the book than you did before;  

you see more in yourself than there was before."

Clifton Fadiman

Related posts

More glimpses of life in a London flat

Explore London

How to keep a reading journal

Did you enjoy this post? Then, pin it, share it, or tweet it, oh my!