My Rules For The Perfect Library

Like pretty much every other person writing on the internet, I love libraries. I’m genuinely convinced that this is the single most romantic moment in cinema history, and you’ll never convince me otherwise:

I’m not saying I would ever leave my husband, but if a magical man-beast with fantastic eyebrows ever gives me a library… he should maybe be worried.

So now I’m using “I must write something for the blog!” as a blatant excuse to drool over pictures of libraries. I live in one of the most expensive places in the world, so I’ll never get a whole room just devoted to books, and I’ve got to use all these opinions up somewhere, so here you go.

My rules for a perfect library.

First up, we’ve got to get one thing straight: spiral staircases are necessary.

“But I don’t have another floor above my library,” you might protest. Nonsense! A spiral staircase to nowhere is, if anything, even more appropriate for a library. Stick up some more books/a hidden cocktail bar/a trompe l’oeil painting of a doorway (see how many people try to walk through), and you’re in business.

Okay, now that we’ve got a spiral staircase installed, let’s discuss the mood.  (Picture me speaking in a french accent and raising my eyebrows suggestively right there)

You’ve got your fair share of choices, from the fairy tale cabin in the woods…

…to the fairy tale castle in the South of France. Basically, if you build a library you’re inescapably entering a fairy tale, so you need to just embrace the madness. Lean into the magic. Become one with your internal royalty.

I’m also thinking that, while we’re in this headspace, you might want a nice decorative mirror, so you can check out how good you look when you’re reading.

Next, shelving.

“But all libraries have shelves! That’s literally what libraries are,” you say, and for using the correct meaning of the word “literally” I applaud you.

But! While yes, there are shelves in every library, some make better use of it than others. See this one? It’s beautiful and amazing, complete with a globe and everything! It’s perfect!

WRONG. Look closer; see those arched details over some of the shelves? Have you ever tried to get a book out from behind one of those architectural details? You have to get every bloody book off the shelf, just so you can slide that corner one out. It’s ridiculous, especially if you’re being forced to make multiple trips up and down a ladder to do it! I am firmly of the opinion that libraries should be built to read, not look at.

Okay, also to look at?

My point is that blocking books in a library is dumb.

So, we’ve all agreed that a library is for books? Good. Now we can talk about decorating. It’s like giving your book collection some jewelry! Speaking of which:

That is a chandelier in the shape of a ship.

And this is a green library with leopard print seats:

I’m pretty sure trying to write down why those last two are so fabulous would utterly destroy their fabulosity. If you’re confused let me know, so I can judge you.

I actually don’t think this next one is particularly offbeat, but I do think it looks relaxing and welcoming, and when I found this picture it was specifically labelled “eccentric,” so I’m going to bow to people who know more about home design than I do. Maybe it’s the water fowl that put it over?

Now, I’m not saying that you have to embrace a little eccentricity in a room whose sole purpose is to gather the work of a thousand brains, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a few strange details. Please don’t have a tiger skin rug though; those make me sad. Unless it’s this kind, then get me one too!

Where were we? Oh yes, bejeweling libraries! Next, we have the all-important seating selection. And yes, the obvious choice is to get a an enormous leather extravaganza, but there are so many other options. And this one is a green velvet sofa WITH FRINGE.

Fringe is always a good idea.

And of course, there’s always the wacky option!

Or at least, there’s always the wacky option if I’m around. I can hear several loved ones rolling their eyes right now.

Yes, I can hear eyes rolling, that wasn’t just a sentence that got away from me. Shut up, metaphors are hard! (Shit, is that even a metaphor? How the hell did I get a 760 on the Lit side of the SATs?)

Anyway, I couldn’t find any super-cool-and-stylish libraries with bean bags, but I did at least unearth one with a hammock. A hammock! Come on people, that’s pretty god damn great!

And while we’re up here, I’d like to point out my newest discovery: ceilings are very important in a library. Now, ideally your library would have an old Italian fresco, but if you don’t happen to have an artisanal Italian in your closet there are other options. They’re not as good, but they’re options.

First, this Tudors-gone-wild example:

Wow. Now I’m thinking about the Tudors going wild, and it’s… pretty gross. They were already completely out of control, so how the hell would they ramp it up in order to go wild? I feel like this could turn into a weird, head-chop-y orgy.

And I don’t really want to imagine that.

Hey look! Here’s a library that just has a wonderful window, letting in light and happiness and absolutely no creepy English monarchs!

Phew! Things got a little weird there, but I think I pulled us back from the brink quite successfully, don’t you?

Okay, so plowing on ahead, I’m highly in favor of the incorporation of trees into a library if at all possible.

Trees are relaxing and beautiful. Books are made from trees. You’re reminding your books of their wild ancestry!

Actually, that might be a little cruel, like taunting a rhinoceros in a zoo.

Well, cruel or kind, it’s the ciiiiiiiiiiircle of liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiife…

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Get ready people, because we’re coming to my favorite part! That’s right, you know what I’m talking about!


Exclamation point!

Seriously now, what self-respecting library doesn’t have a hidden door that leads to a secret passageway/a gin still for making illegal hooch/more books? I’m not even sure if it’s legal in this state to build a library without a hidden bookshelf-door! And if it is, it shouldn’t be. I’ll be out getting signatures for a new law soon.

Mostly though, a library should be full to bursting with books. Overflowing. If a stranger doesn’t walk in and immediately start questioning your life priorities, you’re doing it wrong. You should need absurdly high ladders in order to get access to all your books. Like, the safety inspector should come through and start desperately flipping through the rule book to see what it has to say on the subject of two story ladders.

However! I do believe there’s a tipping point! It’s hard to get to, and honestly if you manage it you should be pretty smug, because you’ve achieved the near-impossible: You have too many books.


If your friends and relations begin to make “jokes” about how they’re going to find your body one day, crushed under an Austen avalanche, you should probably take a look at your life. Because if your library is overflowing, that can only mean one thing.




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