If there's one thing I love it's a good ferret around someone else's bookshelves, and I know people love to nose around mine too because when a book-lover comes to visit we might as well give up on conversation until they've taken it all in.
I realise it now, I've sat in other people's homes in the past and been far too polite, so when a copy of Unpacking My Library : Writers and Their Books arrived , it sort of made up for plenty of shelves I might have missed through good manners.
The first thing to note is that this an oblong book, perfectly suited to the plethora of landscape photographs of shelves which I hoped would be inside. I was not disappointed as editor Leah Price let me loose on the shelves of a range of predominantly US authors, perhaps lesser known to me (apart from Philip Pullman) but as this is Yale University Press book that is understandable.
But to honest, itmakes no odds, I'll nose around anyone's shelves and now I feel as if the writers have given me a very personal guided tour around their libraries The introduction makes reference to several quintessentialy English libraries, including the one in the Queen Mary doll's house now at Windsor Castle, with its library of tiny but authentic replicas, and also the library at Chatsworth House, though no mention of mine. This corner currently adorned with a very select and tasteful set of colour changing dove lights from B&Q which I think gives it that much-coveted Griswold Christmas Vacation ambience.
Another snippet of information suggesting that the book is far from dead in this digital age is that Ikea has now manufactured twenty-eight million Billy bookcases. They need to make that twenty-eight million and ten because we are about to shelve out another room.
And talk about coveting...
Jonathan Lethem has a nice chair...
Actually Claire Messud and James Wood have a nice chair too.
I expect, like me, Philip Pullman knows just where everything is.
and could lay his hand on it straightaway.
Each author answers a series of questions about their respective libraries and bookish habits as well as choosing a Top Ten from their shelves. But the shelf contents are easily visible so I have spent hours browsing them. I was interested to read that Philip Pullman would throw his Kindle in the bin the minute the 'Big Crash' happened, but while he has one he revels in the ability to take hundreds of books with him as he travels...I had him down as a non-Kindler for some reason.
But back to reading chairs...
I am currently coveting this one from sofa.com to go next to my BookRoom stove..
Which took me on a terribly covetous journey to St Jude's Fabrics and some favoured designers including Angie Lewin, though really I should probably have the chair covered in this... Doveflight in grey by Mark Hearld.
and this low chair thing has all become an obsession since Fran sent me this picture of Clive Bell's study at Charleston, and Bookhound has it imprinted on his mind's eye and is scouring the sale rooms accordingly.
Do you have a reading chair?