On Building a Home Library


“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
― Jorge Luis Borges

I've spent years acquiring books. My goal has always been to foster a love of books in our home. I love to hunt for good books, but over the years, I've learned to be more intentional about what I want to keep and display. My husband realized that we needed more bookshelves since my love of books never seems to dwindle. We spent an entire weekend building the shelves you see so regularly documented on our Instagram. I adore these shelves.

I've realized, though, that I have plenty of space and no excuse to not have room for books that are meaningful to me. Books that are worth re-reading, that can be passed down in the family. It hit me one day when I said I loved Eleanor Roosevelt (whom I quote regularly) and I suddenly realized I didn't really know anything about her; I also owned no books about her.

After that, I started looking at my shelves, looking carefully at what I supposedly loved, what I didn't, and where I needed to grow and cut my collection for a well-rounded home library. I started depositing armloads of books to Free Little Libraries near me and doing all I could to control my urge to buy books I was only half interested in. The local library has been the most helpful tool in being able to curb my impulse book buying.

I wanted, no, I NEEDED to be intentional. I wanted to be proud of my collection.

I love used and vintage books; the older and more loved, the better. I've spent years gathering books found in antique shops, thrift stores, and library sales - but only carefully selected novels. If it's not an old or used book, then it's a specific edition I love and have taken the time to find. Basically, NO impulse buys! If I'm purchasing a book, it meets the criteria of being a title I was looking for, in an edition I know I want to keep forever. 

Ultimately, a home library is going to end up reflecting your values and represent what appeals to you, and that may change over time, so never hesitate to go through your books and cull your collection when needed. Plus, freeing up some space means more new books you can buy :)

When you become hyper aware of curation, you end up cultivating a home library that really speaks to your tastes and values, without clutter or random books you'll never actually read. You end up with books that genuinely interest you, that are worth revisiting or putting in your friend's hands, and you avoid mediocrity. A little intentionality in your curation goes a long way, trust me. You'll be able to go pick up a favorite comfort read, re-visit a classic tale, or lend the perfect title to your best friend knowing that nothing but beauty and quality exists on your shelves.

P.S. This is our very favorite app for cataloguing your home library! The scanner function on your smartphone is incredibly fast and accurate. 

What's important to you in a home library? We'd love to hear! And show us your shelves by tagging #TheArdentBiblioReads over on Instagram!

Michaela Devine