Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Library Love

I owe you all a sincere apology. I've been a little subdued lately. When writers are sequestered in a room on  their own for months on end, day after day, week after week, they tend to become a little, well, quiet. What's that old saying? You can learn anything locked in a room on your own, except for life itself... I always loved that quote.

Lots of writer suffer from the isolation. I remember reading that Stephen King believed that it was important that all writers stop after 2000 words each day and go outside to remember the world again. Hemingway was religious about stopping at midday and going out fishing or drinking. (Not that I will be doing that, but Key West would be a fantastic place to ride a bike around the bars!) Even Maggie Alderson now closes her computer and does drawing classes in the afternoons. I don't know how they do it. I feel guilty if I not still writing at 2AM each night.

But I'm planning to enrol in some courses with some friends this spring. The old CAE has some fantastic ones this season:  Macaron Making; Botanical Art Workshops; a course on The Californian Bungalow Home; The History of The Orient Express; Melbourne's Hidden Architectural Secrets; Photographing Melbourne; Laneways of Melbourne, and (my favourite) The City of Literature course, which takes you to the city's hidden bookshops. They sound fantastic, don't they? Details here – 

In the meantime, here are some lovely literary visions to inspire you all, in the form of some truly delightful libraries.

Diane Keaton's library, which wowed the design world when it was featured in Architectural Digest. When Ms Keaton bought this Spanish Colonial Revival-style home in Beverly Hills, she immediately turned the entrance into a library. It was a savvy move. Now, the first impression guests receive is a welcoming and intelligent space, rather than a room full of boots and a painting or two. She's since sold this home, and bought another to store all her books in. Hopefully the new owners have retained this space as a library. It would be a shame if they converted it back to a boot room!
I love Diane Keaton, and not just for her architectural knowledge. I'm looking forward to her two new films, Darling Companion and The Wedding, scheduled to appear in October.

Fashion designer Paul Smith's library. Another bibliophile, Paul often incorporates books as part of his stores' merchandising.

Anna Wintour's library at her Long Island / Hamptons hideaway. I do wonder if Ms Wintour ever has time to read?

Karl Lagerfeld's library in his Left Bank residence. Now Karl does make time for reading! Have you seen the photos of his bedroom? There are books instead of pillows.

Sarah Jessica Parker's library. This room is in a New York house that she and Matthew Broderick are selling. The magazine stand is an intelligent touch.

The Manhattan library of book publisher Suzanne Slesin, owner of Pointed Leaf Press. When I saw this space recently, I recognised it from an old ad I loved as a young girl. It was a Pottery Barn ad that was set in a library. I didn't know what Pottery Barn was at the time. (We don't have it in Australia.) I just loved the library! Here's the ad, below. Look at the initials – ABC – above the left door.

I'm not sure what this extraordinary library is? Does anyone know? It is a metaphor for the destruction of trees for the publishing industry? (Or even the demise of the publishing industry itself?) Is it a stage set? It's all very mysterious...

Diane von Furstenberg's library at her Connecticut home, Cloudwalk. We drove past this recently. Such a gorgeous part of the world. BTW, there is an incredible story about DVF here, from the LA Times. I do feel that the writer has betrayed confidences somewhat, but it's still interesting. 

A beautiful olive-green library from the book Decorating With Books. I love this space, clutter and all. It looks very English.

Chateau de Groussay's library, photographed by Cecil Beaton. Many library lovers consider this to be the most beautiful private library in the world. 

Here's another angle of Chateau de Groussay's library, from the Sotheby's catalogue.

Bill Blass's library. {Source unknown.}

Jackie Kennedy's library. 
{Again, source unknown. Forgive me. If anyone knows the credit, please notify me.}

A library in a kitchen. I love this. We're considering installing a library in our kitchen / sunroom, if I can persuade my darling hubster to build it. {Source unknown.}

Lindsay Coral Harper's library, as featured in Atlanta Homes. Love the ottomans and the plum colour.

And my absolute favourite, although, once again, the source has been lost in the dreaded tumblr mess. (I fear the photos in the future: crediting is becoming a lost art!) Isn't this the sweetest library? Look at the little daybed near the window, the spiral staircase, the lovely mezzanine... I could happily live in this library.


  1. Dear Janelle

    Such an interesting post, each surpasses the one before. The wonderful libraries, the quote from F Scott and the link into the article about Diane v F by her Jewish friend. Very thought provoking. I particularly liked his reply to DVF's son who had an assignment about WWII. It also reminded me of the schisms in the Mitford family:the extraordinary Diana, Unity and their mother's infatuation with Hitler (they also it seems found him charming and a great lover of music) to the horror of Jessica, Nancy and their father. As you know, Nancy informed on Diana who was then imprisoned during the war, Oswald Mosely as well. In regard to the Agnellis it's interesting that Winston Churchill's former daughter-in-law, Pamela Harriman, after the war was a long time mistress of one of the leading Agnellis, Gianni, I think. How complicated life really can be.
    DVF really must be quite an inspirational person. Her ability to cope with her husband's family members who were friends of Hitler when on her own side her grandmother had been a survivor of the Holocaust with her concentration camp number tattoed on her arm is amazing. Her humanity and kindness and generosity. I'm so glad to learn all this about her.

    Best wishes, Pamela

    1. Yes, the story of the Mitford sisters is extraordinary, isn't it? I often wonder if there was a little rivalry, and perhaps even envy, between them all? What would make a person betray their own sibling?

      I love the story of Pamela Harriman. I read her biography one year and was so enthralled I finished it in 3 days.


  2. Yes, while you might consider yourself quiet, I am captivated by your foray into the world of the home library. Isn't it sad that people are talking about the demise of books .I can't think of anything better than reading ( touching smelling absorbing) the written word.
    many thanks. W.

  3. Some people think there will always be books Wendy, but I'm not sure there will be as many. Publishers (print publishers) are all going broke. They just can't sustain the losses anymore. But let's hope there will still be a few to peruse.

    A few years ago, we started stockpiling books in our house - just the classics and collectibles (beautiful books with vintage covers), as well as gorgeous art, design and fashion books. Biographies too. They're for our retirement! I hope to sit on a deck by the sea somewhere and read all the books I've never had a chance to go through.


Thank you for stopping by. It's always lovely hearing from The Library's readers.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...