Give me a house furnished with books rather than furniture! Both, if you can, but books at any rate! ~Henry Ward Beecher, “The Duty of Owning Books,” in Friends’ Intelligencer, Second Month 4, 1860
I’ve squeezed as many bookcases in this tiny space as possible. Being surrounded by books and magazines makes me feel calm. It makes the room seem wrapped in a layer of protection. As if nothing or no one can get to me. ~Angelo Surmelis, The Dangerous Art of Blending In, 2018
Bookshelves stood against the four walls. They were shapely and well-made, but were all second-hand… She liked her shelves to have personality, as well as the books on them… ~Stella Gibbons, Nightingale Wood, 1938
Never trust anyone whose television is larger than their bookshelf. ~Author unknown
I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. That would give them an infinite number of worlds in which to wander… ~Anna Quindlen, “Public & Private: Enough Bookshelves,” in The New York Times, 1991 August 7th
Let books be your dining table
And you shall be full of delights
Let them be your mattress
And you shall sleep restful nights
~St. Ephrem the Syrian (303–373), quoted in Bar Ebrōyô, Ethicon, per George Anton Kiraz, 2001
Flowers about a rich man’s house may signify only that he has a good gardener, or that he has refined neighbors, and does what he sees them do. But, if on visiting the dwelling of a man of slender means, I find the reason why he has cheap carpets and very plain furniture to be that he may purchase books, he rises at once in my esteem. Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house. The plainest row of books that cloth or paper ever covered, is more significant of refinement than the most elaborately carved etagere or side-board. Let us pity those poor rich men who live barrenly in great, bookless houses! ~Henry Ward Beecher, “The Duty of Owning Books,” in Friends’ Intelligencer, Second Month 4, 1860 [a little altered
Avoid bad society but make your books your companions. Let your bookcases and shelves be your gardens and your pleasure-grounds. Pluck the fruit that grows therein, gather the roses, the spices, and the myrrh. ~Judah ben Saul ibn Tibbon (1120–c.1190), as quoted in Israel Abrahams, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages, 1896
I like to think that when I fall,
A rain-drop in Death’s shoreless sea,
This shelf of books along the wall,
Beside my bed, will mourn for me.
~Robert W. Service, “Bookshelf,” Bar-Room Ballads, 1940
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
~Roald Dahl, “Mike Teavee is Sent by Television,” Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 1964
The decor was annoyingly opulent… The worst part about her new chambers was that all these wardrobes and vanities and drapes meant there was no space — none at all — for a bookcase. Who on earth could feel comfortable enough to sleep in a room with no books? ~Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows, My Lady Jane, 2016
Anyway, I’m always interested in products that claim to be aphrodisiacs, when we all know that the one and only aphrodisiac is a man volunteering to build you some bookshelves. ~Lisa Scottoline, “Weeding,” I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool, 2017 [Book coauthored with daughter Francesca Serritella.
A bookshelf is as particular to its owner as are his or her clothes; a personality is stamped on a library just as a shoe is shaped by the foot. ~Alan Bennett, “Baffled at a Bookcase,” 2011
I had always liked Biddulph. He was a spry old man with merry blue eyes and a monkish fringe of white hair that stood erect over his ears like the plumicorns of an owl. And as I surveyed the clutter of his study I was pleased to see that he was a man after my own heart. All of his money appeared to have been spent on either books or shelves to hold them. ~Ross King, Ex-Libris, 1998
I am acquiring too many books. Let’s assume for present purposes there is such a thing. And so now I’m thinking about putting more bookshelves in my kitchen, of all places. Why? Because it’s the only room in the house that presently has no bookshelves. I don’t know if you can put bookshelves in the kitchen, or if it’s against federal law, but the great thing about a middle-aged woman is that we make our own rules. ~Lisa Scottoline, “Collect Them All,” I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool, 2017 [Book coauthored with daughter Francesca Serritella.
A tall bookshelf at a discount!
She was so excited, a dream!
~Terri Guillemets, “Bibliophile shopping,” 2019, blackout poetry created from Mary Carter, Return to Hampton Beach, 2014, chapter 8
My dream house… Each room a different texture, a different mood, a different poem, and at its heart, a creaking ladder sliding along floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in a timeless oak-paneled room that smells of leather and eternity; and floor-to-ceiling windows that glow nightly with a soft, thrilling life… and doors that open daily onto the world… And you can leave the house at any moment, go out into the unknown with… a half-finished poem in your heart, and when you come back, it will all be waiting for you still… a warm place full of art and love and starry vistas, the volume you were reading just before you left still open to your page by your favorite armchair. ~Olga Grushin, Forty Rooms, 2016
The tree gleamed in earth tones —
a friend to me,
and large enough for bookcases.
Conflicting emotions tore at me.
~Terri Guillemets, “Tree-guilt,” 2019, blackout poetry created from Lisa Jackson, His Bride to Be, 1990, chapter 4