Home Is Where the Books Are

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Are you book wrapt? Reid Byers, author of The Private Library: The History of the Architecture and Furnishing of the Domestic Bookroom (Oak Knoll Press, 2021), coined the phrase to describe the intense feeling of comfort that a well-stocked personal library can provide—be it a room stacked to the ceiling with shelves of books or a small, but well-curated collection.

“Entering our library should feel like easing into a hot tub, strolling into a magic store, emerging into the orchestra pit, or entering a chamber of curiosities, the club, the circus, our cabin on an outbound yacht, the house of an old friend,” Byers writes. “It is a setting forth, and it is a coming back to center.”

But how many books does it take to be book wrapt? The number can vary, Byers says. He maintains that 500 books ensure that a room will “begin to feel like a library,” but says that the library he kept at the end of his bunk on an aircraft carrier in Vietnam was “very highly valued, though it probably didn’t have 30 books in it.”

In her feature on The Private Library and the architecture of personal libraries in The New York Times, writer Julie Lasky asks several high-profile bibliophiles about the size of their book collections and how these books impact their lives. The numbers range from around 1,600 (chef, author, and food activist Alice Waters) to 400 (Alexandre Assouline, chief of operations, brand and strategy at publishing company Assouline).

How does your book collection size up? Are you book wrapt? Whatever the size of your personal stash of books, you can always find more (to add to your collection temporarily) at your local library!

Photo by Radu Marcusu on Unsplash.