Friday, November 1, 2013

Books That Inspire

Architectural Digest, January 2013
If you are like I am, magazine images like the ones above and below make you pause and inspect what inspires their owners. It can be very insightful. And I always get a secret satisfaction knowing that a designer and I have a title or two in common.

click to enlarge  |  Architectural Digest, January 2013
Oscar de la Renta loosely alphabetizes his books, and collects ones from Goya to Raj India, to those of his competitors.

Recently, my blogging friend Alan Carrol of Surface Fragments asked artists to reveal some of their reference material by sending photographs of their bookshelves. His posting — Alan's been good enough to link many of the books to book sellers — is interesting and a valuable resource. While you're at his site, browse through his many excellent and erudite posts.

You can also read about my own Dover books, here.


  1. Dear Mark - even in this digital age H and I prefer to have books. We seem to be forever buying shelving to house them, once bought H cannot part with them. This love has been passed on to our two sons.
    In August our eldest son telephoned from Norway to say he wanted all of his books, in our attic, sent to Paris. I may have mentioned this already.
    60 large cardboard boxes full of books. He told us not to remove them, but of course we did, and I am still suffering the consequences of lifting them down from H standing on the ladder.
    Books are a 'sore' point with me at the moment, particularly at the top of my arms and shoulders.

    1. Dear Rosemary,

      Ouch! It sounds as though son's books were almost a form of attic insulation! I hope you're feeling better by the time you read this.

      It's funny that you mention the constant buying of shelving because I'm currently searching for the right bookcase so that I can get several stacks of books off my study floor. Right now I'm staring at four "columns," each about three feet high!

  2. my favorite subject ( which is probably why my apartment is overflowing with books into Bobs house....) stacks in the bedroom -in the dining room - 4 shelves over full in the living room, stacks under the coffee table. Like you, I get out my magnifying glass to see which books i'm missing from people I admire -haha.

    1. Hi, Stefan!

      Such photographs are so satisfactory because they really allow one to snoop! I know that my bookcases reveal a lot about me, particularly because I have a number of book groupings — Monticello, graphology, codes, mandalas, Neoclassic architecture . . .

  3. Hello Mark, I also love to examine photos of bookshelves, looking for keys to the owners personality, and sometimes experiencing the pleasant shock of recognition when I see a book that I own as well. My favorite is the unexpected--among all the art books one may find 18th century novels, or perhaps automotive engine design.

    Thanks for the tip to check out Surface Fragments--I just took a quick look, but that site will require some serious browsing time.

    1. Hello, Jim,

      Yes, that odd book can throw one for a loop just when you think you've discovered all there is to know about someone. My father, who didn't read light books, cherished an early 19th-century schoolbook because of the margin notations by a irreverent schoolboy

  4. Dear Mark, What would the world be like without books? I love them all. I once had to hide a book from a friend who often came for a visit just to see THE Book. I hid it so well that I could not find it for years. Now, I have lost it again.