On a mini-break between books, I recently watched The Goop Lab on Netflix, and in-between feeling my aura and other body parts, I noticed how the books in her office were stacked.
I’m not a Gwyneth Paltrow basher. While other people rolled their eyes at her conscious uncoupling, I figured one less bitter divorce in the world was a good thing. And yes, the vaginal steaming was a bit much, but maybe hers needs steaming. But now Gwynnie has gone and had her bookshelves curated and I simply don’t know what to make of it.
To get the book-look she desired, each book was hand-picked to fit the energy of the room. The curator, Thatcher Wine told Town&Country, “I looked at books she already owned, which focused on fashion, art, culture, photography, and architecture, as well as books that her kids liked. We expanded on those topics…”
Book curation is a thing. Some of us do it to our own shelves. Some shelves hold carefully chosen books, to complement the space. Prior to hearing about Gwyneth’s shelves, I thought peak-curation was the colour coder – those people with beautiful bookshelves, lined with colour coded books. There’s no doubt that it’s visually very appealing, but really, if using a Taubmans’ colour chart to find a place for a book is important to you, reading that book probably isn’t. Do these people get rid of books that don’t match the décor?
Moving into slightly more curated territory is the shapeshifter – those booklovers who might stack books in a way that is visually pleasing, but it’s done for the benefit of each book, not the overall look of one’s home. A shapeshifter often has a lot of books, of varying sizes. Shelves are stacked with books both horizontally and vertically. A shapeshifter would never get rid of a book to benefit the space. It’s always about finding space for each book.
Mostly, booklovers shelve their books in more traditional ways. There are those of us who sort book shelves alphabetically, and others by subject or genre. Some of us are hoarders, and while being called a hoarder is usually an insult, we’re discussing books here, so despite what Marie Kondo says, normal hoarder rules don’t apply.
Personally, my books are curated… by me. I have a vast collection of books on the history of Witchcraft, another crammed shelf containing books on female travellers from the Victorian era, and an area devoted to books on Japan. I’m great at a dinner party if one of those topics come up. Then, my keepers are in one bookcase, generally organised by subject matter. Another bookcase holds my TBR books, fiction and non-fiction respectively. To the untrained eye, it looks like I have a lot of books everywhere. But believe me… there is order to my shelves. And the thought of anyone else touching them, organising them, energetically placing them or, worse, getting rid of some because they don’t fit a design brief, is unfathomable. I’m one for the ‘curation is for a museum and not for my books at home’ camp. But each to their own.
Have you ever hired a book curator? Would you have someone else come in and organise your shelves for you? Would you ever buy books to use as décor rather than… well, to read?
Big questions I know. Tell us what you think.