My parents first met in a library in North London in the 1950s. In the following decades they acquired a house filled with hundreds of books and three well-read children. The fact that my mother values antiquarian volumes more than antique jewellery may go some way to explaining why I’m a bibliophile with a love of all things mid-century.
Though many traditional libraries in the UK are in danger of becoming little more than superannuated wi-fi hotspots, I still think of them as places you go to enjoy peace, quiet and the written word.
I like order on my shelves, which is one reason why moving home last autumn was such a trauma. Over the past six months, the bulk of my book collection went from this neat arrangement:
Finally, this week I have some custom-made shelves in my attic/study room.
The bad news? Picture three doesn’t show any of my film, architecture or sports books, or some the colourful volumes featured at the Taft Hotel. They remain scattered around my flat in various corners and on non-matching shelves.
Earlier this week, The Guardian reported on a decline in the market for tablets like Apple’s ubiquitous iPad. According to Apple’s Tim Cook, one of the reasons for this worrying drop in our appetite for slim ‘n’ shiny gadgets is that “the upgrade cycle is longer”. All that means is that consumers aren’t ditching their tablets every 12-18 months, along with their smartphones.
That’s one of the reasons that I love my books. They may get a little bent or dusty over the years, or be superseded by film and TV tie-in versions or digital downloads, but they’ll never succumb to an obsolete battery or the lure of a higher resolution screen.
Books are for life. So next time you think about upgrading your phone, why not invest time and money in paper and ink instead. Treat your book collection to some decent shelving.