I’ve been needing a new bookshelf for a long time now and was holding out until I found the perfect one. I finally did and had the most fun styling it, so I wanted to share what’s on my new bookshelf. This is a long one, so go get a cup of tea and get cozy before reading.
My mom has a friend who is really talented with home decor and furniture refurbishment. I actually already had a pair of side tables she worked on in my room that I love! So, a few weeks ago, we went over to her house and I saw this gorgeous bookcase in her backyard studio. I seriously fell in love with it because it was exactly the shade of wood and sort of fairytale style I had in mind. We weren’t sure if it would fit in my room, so we went about our day, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It even had a beautiful old key that you have to use to open the doors!
When I got home, I measured the space in my room where I wanted to put the bookcase and I felt really confident that it would fit. A few days later, she delivered the bookcase and needless to say, it looks amazing in my room. It totally finishes the space and makes it feel complete and balanced (even though I had to move some canvases over to the other wall where they’re leaning until I can find somewhere to hang them).
That night, I immediately began pulling my book collection out of boxes to pick the prettiest ones and style them on the shelves with whatever cute objects I could find. My strategy here was to only use books with pretty, mostly neutral covers and bindings. But, I also wanted the books and objects to have meaning. It could be that they’re my favorite books or just that they are super visually inspiring to me. That’s really the goal of my entire room. I want everything to be really inspiring creatively as well as looking pretty and feeling comfortable.
So, I’m gonna go through each shelf and tell you about what’s there. I still have four more boxes of books stored away (because I’m crazy), but I’m so happy to have some of my favorites on display now.
On the left side, I have my college pennant behind a small stack of magazines I’m collecting, mostly Vogue, Southern Living, and Garden & Gun. On the right side, I have a couple of books:
The Sartorialist - This is the original book, which I love because it captures a really cool time when street style was first becoming a thing.
The Story of Art - This is one of my textbooks from my college art history courses and it’s probably the most essential book on the topic that exists.
Cervantes Deluxe Edition - The Harvard Classics edition. I found this at an antique store somewhere and loved the black cover, plus you can’t go wrong with Cervantes.
The Power of Myth - One of my very favorite books and another from a college class. It’s a transcription of a six part documentary where Joseph Campbell talks with Bill Moyers about mythology, heroes, and storytelling. Whenever I see this book, I remember when Rory Gilmore watched the show in the motel room during Spring Break.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - I actually haven’t read this, but it’s by Anne Brontë and since I love Charlotte so much, I’ve been trying to read more of her sisters. It has a beautiful cover and makes me feel really cozy.
And Then There Were None - By Agatha Christie! Honestly, no cozy bookshelf is complete without a Christie mystery. I plan on reading this one when the weather gets colder and on a rainy day, because it’s about guests on an isolated island being mysteriously murdered one by one.
Commonwealth - This Ann Patchett book has one of the prettiest covers and a super memorable opening story about oranges and a party.
The After Party - Another great cover that goes especially well with the orange, white, and green of Commonwealth. This story is about the Houston social scene in the 1950s, which is creatively inspiring for me.
On top of the last two books, I have a white bust of a man who always reminds me of Marcus Aurelius, who is a really inspiring figure to me. His quotes on stoicism and mindfulness are always some of my go-to’s.
On the left side, I have a drawing of my college that I bought from an artist probably on my second day at school. I also have a gold wish bone that’s gone with me from house to house as well as a Volcano candle. There’s also my favorite black-and-white photo of my grandpa. As for books, I have a stack on the left including:
Antique French language book - I can’t remember where I found this one or who gave it to me, but it’s one that I like to use a lot for photos because of the color and the font type.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - The pretty yellow cover makes this book look really pretty in this particular stack. Plus, I have to have some HP representation always.
Home - The third in Marilynne Robinson’s four book Gilead series. This is a really beautifully written series that characterizes life in small town Iowa. The language is really haunting and poetic, so that’s inspiring to me.
The Sickness Unto Death - I absolutely love Kierkegaard and this was a fascinating read that I think about a lot. It’s not as depressing as it sounds. 🙃
Far From the Madding Crowd - This might be the prettiest book I own. It has the most beautiful textured cover with gold bees.
Over on the other side of the middle shelf, I have a big selection of books stacked upright and horizontally, topped with a little succulent plant.
Bel Canto - The second Ann Patchett book on the shelf. This is a story about an opera singer and that visual always inspires me.
A Separate Peace - I love boarding school novels and this is one of the classics. It has a beautiful cover and it’s a story that has always stuck with me.
The Starboard Sea - Coincidentally, another boarding school novel I think about often.
Never Let Me Go - Such a haunting story with an equally haunting cover.
Call Me By Your Name - The book version of one of my very favorite films.
The Great Gatsby - If I had to pick three books that inspire my life the most, this would definitely be one of them, so it certainly deserves a place on the shelf. Plus, that classic cover is so nice to look at.
Living in Style - Rachel Zoe’s lifestyle and fashion coffee table book. I love her.
Manhattan Monologues - One summer in New York, I swear I bought every Louis Auchincloss book that exists from The Strand and this is the prettiest one.
Letters of Abelard and Heloise - I heard the story of Peter Abelard and Heloise in a college history class and became really interested in them. They were basically the OG teacher-student love story and I love this little book of their letters.
Jane Austen: Four Classic Novels - This giant book has Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion. I have other copies of these books, but it’s kind of nice to have them all in one book.
A Moveable Feast - I bought this at the bookstore at Hemingway’s home in Key West, where I played with his six toed cats and walked through his writing room.
Northanger Abbey - This Jane Austen book is at the end of the shelf and since there’s glass panes on the sides, you can see the pretty cover from my bed.
On the left, I have an old, empty bottle of Veuve Clicquot and a plain white candle from IKEA. On to the books:
Boyhood - This is a great book of photography from behind-the-scenes of another one of my favorite films Boyhood. It’s has a really gorgeous black-and-white cover that I’ve been wanting to display forever, but I never had a place to do it!
Grace - Behind the Boyhood photography book, I have Grace Coddington’s pretty orange book. She always brings so much inspiration, so I like having that book to look at every day.
Night Film - This Marisha Pessl book is one that’s on my mind constantly in the fall because it’s perfectly spooky and atmospheric.
Swann’s Way - This is the only Proust book I own and it’s the first of his In Search of Lost Time series and I plan on reading the whole series, so this is where I start.
Fahrenheit 451 - I absolutely love the cover of this Ray Bradbury book. Plus, the storyline is kind of special/scary for any book lover.
The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton books always have the most magical covers, don’t they?
Rebecca - My favorite Hitchcock story. I bought this first edition at an antique store in Lexington, Kentucky and I’m a little obsessed with it.
The Age of Innocence - This is another early edition that was gifted to me during college. It’s kind of compact and is in amazing condition, so it’s a good one to have on display.
The Beautiful and the Damned - This copy is pretty tattered because I carried it around with me everywhere when I was an intern in New York several years ago.
Jane Eyre - My all-time favorite book (along with The Secret History which is kept on my nightstand). I have multiple copies, but I chose the simple, jacketless black one for the shelf.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s - I love this black cover with the splash of red and the red nail polish and jewelry. I’d like to get The Audrey Hepburn Treasures to pair with this stack.
Anna Karenina - I found this old edition of Anna Karenina split into two books at The Strand and had to have it. The box was torn up, but the books themselves are in such good condition.
The Catcher in the Rye - God, I love this book. It’s so fall, so New York, and such a good, nostalgic story for anyone who was an insufferably elitist teen.
Selected Poems of William Butler Yeats - I’m not a huge poetry fan aside from Keats and weirdly, I don’t own any Keats. But, I have this super old book of Yeats poetry that looks good on the shelf and fills the poetry gap.
The Concept of Anxiety - Kierkegaard is really good at publishing books with depressing names. This book, along with The Sickness Unto Death, was a gift from my best friend Caroline, a fellow Kierkegaard fan. It’s basically a philosophy book about how anxiety is caused by our complete freedom and all of the possibilities that could occur. As always with Kierkegaard, it has a lot of great spiritual elements, too.
The Goldfinch - One of the best covers in recent years, I think. I absolutely love Donna Tartt, of course, and really loved this book even though I had insane expectations following The Secret History.