Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Inspiration From A Writer's Library


Writer's libraries are always scarily messy affairs.

At the moment, my study is overcrowded with piles of research for new book projects, plans for our forthcoming US Garden Tour in May, tax receipts to reconcile, a huddle of watercolours to be used for the page designs for the New York book, an overwhelmingly – I mean frighteningly high – pile of archives, notes and interviews for the Picnic at Hanging Rock book (almost as high as the rock itself!), a smaller pile of ribbons and other passementerie for a new Paris book, a medium pile of bits and pieces for the new magazine, and an almost hidden cluster of clippings and ideas for a new company I'm working on. (Which is a pile that keeps getting pushed to one side, so I may have to remove it from the others altogether.)


And in between all these terrorising, intimidating piles, are books. Piles and piles of books.

I tell you, this study is not a safe place to be.  

(NB I'm not showing you as I'm quietly ashamed of the chaos. It's organised chaos, but nonetheless, there is an element of alarm at the sight of it all)


But what I wanted to write about was the curiosity we have for other people's studies, libraries and private spaces.

An ex-boyfriend once told me that when he started dating a girl, he would look in her bathroom cupboard for clues, but I think you'd find out a lot more about someone by looking in their library.
Books are revealing things. I'm sometimes ashamed when high-brow literary friends come over because we don't have many high-brow literary titles. (Have you ever done the bookshelf shuffle when you've had guests? It's such panic, isn't it?) First editions are another sign that someone has a fine mind. (We have a first edition that's worth $10,000+, but it's the only one I have and I've hidden it so well I can't find it. That says volumes about us.)


Anyway, this post was inspired by another writer, the brilliant Australian-New Zealand author Diane Dorrans Saeks who's now based in San Francisco. 


A former staff writer for Vogue Living and Vogue Australia, Diane has written more than two dozen coffee-table books on design, architecture and style (above).

Her blog www.thestylesaloniste.com [link] is always fascinating: a curious compendium of travel, design, ideas, books and style. It's like walking into a bookshop and finding the owner is one of the most interesting people you've ever met, full of sage advice about people to read and places to go.

She's rather well-known but she's also endearingly humble. (Anyone who goes to Luang Prabang is not pretentious.)


This week, she did a post on her library. It was astonishing. I wish I knew her better so I could email her. Do have a peek: book lovers will go ga-ga.

It gave me dozens of ideas for new and vintage books to buy. It also made me think: Why isn't there a blog that shows pix of people's private libraries? It would offer such wonderful inspiration for new book buys, don't you think?


And so here, in something of a confessional, are some images of our book 'piles' around the place. I hope it offers you all some bookish inspiration for 2014. We all need to buy more books – new ones, old ones, vintage and classic ones, bestsellers and small sellers, high-brow and low. Thank you Diane for showing me the beauty of books again.


INSPIRATION FROM A WRITER'S LIBRARY


TOP OF THE PILE

This is one of the best books. Ever. If you love gardens and particularly French gardens and their design, buy this new tome on Le Notre, the talent behind Versailles. It's surprisingly inexpensive. How they put it all together, with the garden plans, illustrations and text, for this price, I'll never know. It's an extraordinarily beautiful volume of work.

Le Notre: In Perspective
(Published to coincide with the current exhibition at Versailles.)


CLOSE TO THE TOP OF THE PILE

Audrey: The 60s
This was a Christmas gift, along with Le Notre. (I was so lucky. I received lots of beautiful books from family.) This is one of the most beautiful books about Ms Hepburn that's ever been published. And the 1960s fashion is sublime. (Especially on her.)


A FEW SUGGESTIONS FOR FRANCOPHILES

The Sun King's Garden, by Ian Thompson
Life in The French Country Home by Mark Girouard
and C├┤te d'Azur: Inventing The French Riviera by Mary Blume


FAVOURITE DESIGN / ARCHITECTURE TITLES

Robert Polidori's huge, three-volume Versailles, 
which shows the behind-the-scenes restoration of the palace in beautiful detail.
Danish fashion designer Marlene Birger's Life & Work
And some of Tricia Guild and Christian Liaigre's titles...




TRAVEL & FASHION RECS

Manolo Blahnik's Drawings
Bare Blass: Bill Blass
and The Golden Age of Travel by Alexis Gregory




GREAT HOLIDAY READS

Anything by Lily Brett or Justine Picardie


A SURPRISING DELIGHT OF A READ

The Garden in Art
Just superb.



GLORIOUS GARDENALIA

Anything by Adam Nicolson (Vita Sackville-West's grandson)
or David Hicks' My Kind of Garden



MORE GORGEOUS GARDENALIA

Bunny Williams' An Affair With A House
Heritage Gardens: The World's Great Gardens Saved by Restoration
Sara Midda's In and Out of the Garden
Garden Mania (a gem for those who love garden plans)


GREAT BEACH READS

Vintage Swimwear
Capri Style


AND BOOKS THAT ARE GOOD FOR DISPLAY
Anything by Images Publishing (my old company), particularly the New Classicist series.

And of course my new publisher, MUP, which produces beautiful books. 


Although in the end, it doesn't matter what you read, as long as you keep reading...

12 comments:

  1. Yes I loved Diane's post as well. By the way she is super friendly. You should email her bc I just commented once but then she emailed me back and was so friendly and super friendly and supportive which I didn't expect at all especially from someone so busy and well known as her! But yes looking at someone's bookshelves is so much fun! Looking the someone's kindle just isn't the same...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, she seems so lovely. She did a post on my books once, and I was so touched. I emailed her to thank her. I just love her posts. Thanks for all your lovely notes too...And your beautiful blog!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Always scan a client's kitchen for their cookbooks. It never fails to match the type of garden they want.

    Bedside book stack. Morphs into most of the room if not careful.

    My sister has no library and aside from the bible no books. Yet she's quite content to buy me books as gifts for birthday etc.

    Near me is a thrift store selling a bag of books for $1. Quite terrifying once an estate has been liquidated from a very interesting person. I try not to do that too much anymore. Most are bought online now. Better targeting of titles. Yet those $1 bags have given me titles I would have never seen/read.

    Your pics tell me I must do some caretaking in the library, it's out of control again.

    Did you see the garden tour Great Dixter is offering? Yum.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That thrift store sounds fantastic!

      Can't find the Great Dixter tour. We may be running another England Garden Tour later this year but one that encompasses northern gardens too, such as David Austin's and Levens Hall. Have you been to either? I imagine they're better seen in high summer, when the roses are at their best. x

      Delete
  4. Thank you for this peak at your collection! Each time I see a post about books, Amazon makes a fortune! I put several of your recommendations on my wish list! Love your blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's so nice of you to say! Thank you. We try to use both Amazon and bookstores. If we don't support bookstores, there may be very few left, and I'd hate to see Amazon win the retail war. Besides, bookstores are beautiful places, aren't they?

      Delete
  5. All your colour coded books v. impressive and pretty .

    Is that nice looking , rather serious young man your father?

    ReplyDelete
  6. No, my partner's father, who passed away suddenly on Christmas Eve four years ago. Christmas is always a sad time in our family now.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a great post - I love to peer at the Libraries of others and always, always seek out recommendations for more. While my own Library is quite huge and partially packed away until an extension is built, it continues to grow in many directions. Recently I had the most amazing good fortune to win a $500 gift card at Readings and the search for what to purchase has been so much fun. Where usually I buy to taste, this time I researched every move. I think Le Notre will get a run so thank you very much for that - I suspect I may not have discovered it otherwise. I love your collection!

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a great post - I love to peer at the Libraries of others and always, always seek out recommendations for more. While my own Library is quite huge and partially packed away until an extension is built, it continues to grow in many directions. Recently I had the most amazing good fortune to win a $500 gift card at Readings and the search for what to purchase has been so much fun. Where usually I buy to taste, this time I researched every move. I think Le Notre will get a run so thank you very much for that - I suspect I may not have discovered it otherwise. I love your collection!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Been to David Austen at peak season....in my opinion. Glorious summer day, roses in full bloom yet the ground covered in their petals. Her art as focal points thruought the garden. Amazing.

    Levens hall is good any day of the year. Hard to imagine they've had a head-gardener there for 400 years + making journal entries.....great for anyone liking 'design'.

    the romance of the roses will not, cannot be forgotten at david austin's.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Tara! I've heard Levens Hall is wonderful right throughout the year. DA's is probably best in June/early July then, although their growing season may be later than London's. I've just discovered a magnificent garden in South Australia – the largest rose garden in the Southern Hemisphere. Can't wait to visit.

      Delete

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

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...