Barbara Parent column: Furnish your house with some books

Delia Ephron, Amy Bloom and Juliet Grames.

The three authors have been on the kitchen table, not literally of course, rather their novels which I purchased at Southington Friends of the Library Book Store over a week ago.

Books in our house are usually not piled on our kitchen table. Within easy reach alongside easy chairs in the den and living room or on a bedside table perhaps, even three or four under a lamp on the table for better nighttime reading. Though I suppose one could always purchase a taller lamp.

Novel approaches, oops, used by decorators include placing a stack of books on a vintage chair and on top, a pitcher with fresh flowers. Others suggest a shelf of books with jackets that complement a room’s color scheme.

Country Living Magazine’s Feb.-March issue devoted three pages to “Teetering Book Piles - Casually placed stacks of page-turners past and present fill a home with storied soul.” Books were shown piled on tables, on the floor in front of filled bookcases and looked great - how could a book ever look bad?

Another suggestion - “On the Stairs” - positioning publications on the treads, makes it easy for guests to grab a good read before tucking in for the night.” Or so stated the caption.

Four books were pictured on the very end of each tread, alternately stacked and upright which was attractive and while there might be adequate room to navigate, the idea was nixed in our house primarily for safety reasons, and also that a guest could easily locate a eclectic selection of reading material from any one of the many shelves on the first floor rather than shuffling through stacks placed along the 13 stairs leading to a bedroom.

My passion for shelves to be filled began in childhood with Heidi, Black Beauty and like the Four Little Peppers grew along with me to include,“The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant” and my first, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.”

Doubleday Book Club editions from teen years moved into bookcases my dad built in the first house I owned and in no time shared space with the nine volumes of the works of O.Henry discovered in the early 60s in a used book store in Hartford. Miniature leather bound classics piled on a table in a used book store in Springfield sold at five for a dollar, and have been with me for over 60 years.

Consider Henry Ward Beecher’s words: “Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that beautifully furnishes a house.”

Reading about fake books used in various venues and home decorating caused me to shiver. Google it if you like. Yet would those of us who are comforted by holding the real thing in our hands be at all interested? I think not.


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