Why Every Reader Needs Display Shelves and Book Art

Why Every Reader Needs Display Shelves and Book Art

One of the many things I appreciate about reading is how easily accessible it is. You don't need a lot of fancy equipment, it's easy to find books, and pretty much anyone can do it. Which is good for me since I'm a naturally skeptical person and tend to squint accusatorially whenever someone says I "need" something for reading. 

But hear me out! Display shelves are LEGIT. In truth, you don't need them, but they sure are nice to have. I didn't care for them much until I moved to Ohio, started going to a lot more literary events, and quickly amassed a collection of signed books. 

It didn't feel right to me to put my signed books on the same shelf with the other books, especially when it was an author I really adored and a book I rated five stars. Plus we had this weirdly shaped wall space in the upstairs of our house near the built-in bookshelf, so it just made sense on several levels. Thus, our display shelves came to be.

When you walk upstairs to the bedroom this is the first thing you see. 

 [image description: a small window with a large wooden bookshelf full of books on the left and a small black bookshelf full of books on the right. Above both bookshelves are shallow display shelves where the books on them are facing cover out instead of spine out.]

[image description: a small window with a large wooden bookshelf full of books on the left and a small black bookshelf full of books on the right. Above both bookshelves are shallow display shelves where the books on them are facing cover out instead of spine out.]

Let's take a closer look at the left side. I've got a display shelf that can comfortably hold three average sized hardbacks. I've got Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and The Mothers by Brit Bennett. 

IMG_8955.JPG

If you're curious about the book art, it says "she reads books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live." One of my best friends, who's also a major book nerd and talented graphic designer, made it. You can get it and her other bookish prints here

Because if you're going to go all in on display shelves, why not complete the aesthetic with some book art? It's a snowball effect of bibliophile awesomeness. 

Now for a closer look at the right side. 

 [image description: a wall with a window, a small black bookshelf, and two display shelves with books facing outward. There are also two framed pieces of abstract art and a small triangular flag that says "books."]

[image description: a wall with a window, a small black bookshelf, and two display shelves with books facing outward. There are also two framed pieces of abstract art and a small triangular flag that says "books."]

For smaller books like paperbacks or a mix of hardbacks and paperbacks you can fit four books comfortably on a display shelf. I had more wall space on this side so we put two up and I kind of tried to arrange the books by color. On these shelves I've got They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib, What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia by Elizabeth Catte, Florida by Lauren Groff, The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, The Fire This Time: an anthology edited by Jesmyn Ward, and The Reactive by Masande Ntshanga.

In terms of the art in this pic, the purple abstract piece was made by one of my neighbors and the other framed piece was made by another close friend and artist. She normally works in photography, but she does stunning work, which you can check out here

If you're curious about the book flag, I got it in a Book Riot subscription box years ago and its since been discontinued. However, they have some similar ones that have specific fandoms, like Pemberley, the Emerald City, West Egg, and more

And lastly, the display shelves are basically just floating shelves with a lip on them to make sure whatever you're propping up doesn't fall off. You can find floating shelves just about anywhere, but the ones I have came from Target. Pro tip: Make sure you have a level and either measuring tape or a yardstick to hang them so you don't hang a tilted shelf. 

A small word of caution: As you're putting books on your display shelves, push them back toward the wall so they're standing as upright as possible without falling forward. That'll help prevent gravity from taking a toll on the spines and warping the books. Hardbacks are less likely to warp than paperbacks since their covers make them sturdier. I'm personally not super particular about this, but if you like your books in pristine condition this is a good thing to be mindful of. 

There you have it! Did I make a good case for display shelves? If you decide to get some, I'd love it if you'd post a pic on Instagram and tag me (@offthebeatenshelf) so I can see. I love a good #shelfie. 

 
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