Posted by: Matt | August 7, 2007

Does This Make Me Look Smart?

So I saw this on another blog and thought that those of you who stop by my place would like to check it out.  I hope it’s not too lame to borrow this, but I will certainly give credit where credit is due.  I found this on 50 Books, head on over and check it out.

There’s a site called Apartment Therapy, which appears to be a site on which people post about their apartments and ask for decorating advice, that sort of thing.  Someone posted this question last month:

Hello AT,

I am working with a client who has a new apartment, loads of beautiful bookshelves and no books. We’d really like to build a book collection relatively quickly. We’d like it to be based on his taste, but also be a great collection of classics and aesthetically as pleasing as the work that’s gone into the rest of the apartment. Do you have any advice or know anyone or any place that can help??

Thanks, Moore

Is this common?  Why are there beautiful bookshelves and no books?  Did the shelves come with the apartment?  Maybe they should try building the book collection with books they’ve either read or would like to read.  Novel idea (pun intended), eh?  Seems pretty pathetic to me.

Anyway, there are some great answers in the comments on this question.  The people posting were thinking the same thing you’re likely thinking right now.  I encourage you to check out some of their answers which are much more clever than anything I could produce.  I also encourage you, if you feel so inclined, to provide an answer yourself, either on the site or maybe even here, as I would love to read them.



  1. They actually sell books by the yard for just this purpose. Ugly isn’t it? My problem is always fitting the books I have into the available shelf space.

  2. I absolutely love Apartment Therapy because I always want to buy everything they feature. Unless I win the lottery, though, my shabby furniture is here to stay.

    Although having bookshelves and no books seems like a crime to a bibliophile, the truth is that most people don’t read books. I have the exact opposite problem, a house full of books and no bookshelves.

  3. Wow, that was hilarious. I love the comments on the post. Especially the guy who equated the question to, “I want to do a photo display but my friends and family don’t photograph well.” Hee hee.

    And when I first read the post, I had a pang when I thought of “beautiful bookshelves”, because I have the opposite problem–too many books and not enough shelves (much less beautiful shelves).

  4. Wow. I can’t even imagine looking for books in this way. Can I have their bookshelves? I’ve got too many books and not nearly enough shelves for them!!

  5. Oh my, that’s sad and hilarious all at the same time. And the comments! Loved the suggestion to fill the shelves with yellow pages. Personally, I’d probably find I had too many books for the shelves!

  6. I’m confused by the “based on his tastes” part. What tastes? If he had tastes in books, he’d have books. Unless! Maybe his former apartment burned down and his insurance covered bookshelves but not books. Still, I am pretty sure I could “build a collection” of books with an hour in a bookstores, given enough money. Which he must have if he’s paying someone to do this for him.

  7. Ted – There was actually a comment on the posted question saying that they sell books by the yard. I wonder what books they are…

    marydell – This was the first time I had heard of the site or visited it. It really is a shame that most people don’t read.

    gentle reader – That was one of my favorite comments as well! And I also have the bookshelf problem you do.

    Heather – Yes, it’s a shame that people view books that way, just use something else if you want decoration.

    Stefanie – Yes, but would your books be aesthetically pleasing? 😉

    Dew – That’s a good point! If he had tastes in books he would certainly have many of them. It’s all just to look intellectual, apparently that’s important for some.

  8. The worst part of this approach to home decoration is that if anyone has questions about the books on the shelves, basically the guy has to say, “I’m not sure,” or, “That’s a good question…” The whole reason for having books on shelves is so that you have easy access to them for *reading* purposes. At the very least they will serve as conversation starters for parties and such.
    On a side note, I still remember the first time I visited my book worm of a friend’s house. He had thousands of books, and from the large collection I was able to get a few good recommendations which eventually became some of my all time favorites.

  9. I’ve been to (where they sell books by the yard), and they have a variety of genres. Actually, you can buy contemporary fiction hardcovers at $10/yard; that’s better than just buying books at the bookstore!

    I wish I had beautiful shelves. Instead, I have the super-cheap ones from Office Max so that I could afford enough to house my (admittedly small) collection. One of my goals for the autumn is to paint the shelves and add some molding to make them prettier. 🙂

    I was surprised that several of the comments were so disparaging re: arranging books by colour. I think it always looks awesome, and I think ‘real readers’ could find their books pretty easily by colour. If I had enough books, that’s what I’d do!

  10. Kevin – Yeah, it could be very embarrassing if someone asked about the books. I always look at peoples bookshelves when I go to their house for the first time. Though I don’t usually ask about them, maybe I should to see if they’ve actually read them!

    Eva – That actually is a good price. Do they just choose the books at random? That might be interesting… I don’t have a problem with arranging books for appearance, but I do have a problem with buying them only for that purpose.

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