I have loved books since I was a little girl. For birthdays, I’d get excited when relatives would bring me copies of my favourite series and I even took speed reading courses so that I could read more books in less time.
A couple of months ago, my husband helped his parents renovate an area of their home and one of the first things that they had to do was pare down their huge book collection. Books that they didn’t read, didn’t refer to or didn’t have an attachment to were carefully packed up and taken to local libraries. They were quite pleased that the books which remained after this cleanse was a personal curated collection that meant something to them. It inspired me to do the same with my overflowing book collection recently and I wanted to share 3 ways you can curate your own personal library to be something that you can be proud of and luxuriate in.
Tip # 1: Curate
Does your collection encompass every single book you have ever owned? I challenge you to dig deep (and get help from a non-sentimental friend if you need it) and keep only books that mean something to you, that you have referred to at least once in the last year or that you re-read on a regular basis. A book you haven’t read in the last 5 years might not best kept in your personal collection- unless you plan on wandering in to an enchanted castle and find a beast who can whisk you off your feet with enchanted servants and a personal library. I pared down my collection to a few books that I read on an annual basis, books I refer to regularly and books that immediately cause me panic if I thought of losing them.
The picture above are some of the books I kept in my style/reference section:
- Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style (one of the best books on finding your personal style I have read and that I constantly am referring to for inspiration)
- Harper’s Bazaar Guide to Great Style (another great personal style book that I refer to regularly)
- What Would Jackie Do? (those of you familiar with another of Christine and I’s blogs might know why this has personal meaning)
- The Virago Book of the Joy of Shopping (Maybe my favourite of the stack – I found it at a train station in London while on my honeymoon and it’s full of quotes from literature over the last 100 years on shopping. I re-read it at least once a year and have never been able to find it in a store since)
- Emily Post’s Etiquette (an old standard)
Tip #2 : Personalize
One of the great things about having a library of books that you’re passionate about is that you may find yourself wanting to lend out a special title to a friend or family member to read. I found that once I had gotten my collection down to a curated personal selection that I wanted to celebrate the permanence of the collection. I was lucky enough to receive a book embosser for Christmas this past year and I knew this was the exact moment to break it out and use it.
The particular embosser she got was from a store on Etsy, but I’m sure you can find them at office supply stores as well.
Tip #3 : Refine
When I was helping pack up the books from my in-laws to go to the library, I discovered something quite entertaining – littered amongst the pages of the books were flight boarding passes from years gone by, receipts from cocktails ordered on beaches and even family mementos. It got me thinking about a little box I have at home where I keep paper mementos and how sad it was that it was sitting in a box I never opened – what if I kept these in the books as bookmarks so that I could enjoy them?
My memento collection includes:
- The receipt holder from Ladurée from a trip I made to the city with my mom
- An incredibly old newspaper clipping about the powers of Apple Cider vinegar given to me by my grandma before she passed away that reminds me of her
- A train ticket from London to Paris
- My son’s birth announcement (his details are edited out in this photo, don’t worry, I didn’t have a weird jumbled text announcement)
- A first place ribbon from when I was a competitive swimmer
- A ticket to the New York Rangers from my last trip to New York with my husband
All these things would otherwise wind up in a “memory” box only to be referred to in 50 years when I’m sorting through stuff to move into the old folks home. Now I can see them, be reminded of the reasons I wanted to keep them in the first place and enjoy them.
I hope that this helps you set up – or curate – your own personal library! I’m still working on setting aside a room of my house to have the romantic library ladders and piles upon piles of old books, but until then this is going to be how I add a little luxury to my collection. And if you’re dreaming like me of libraries… Here is some more inspiration: