I can remember my father telling me that when he was young he dreamed of having a house full of books and art. I can also remember the look of contentedness he had on his face as he sat in his own home telling this to me. You see, I can never remember us living in a home that wasn’t full of books and art.
Granted, there were always far more books than art. Much of the artwork that we had on the walls when I was a kid was of his own creation. He’s a very talented painter. But as time went on, and the house filled with more children, he had much less time to devote to his painting. But the books, they were always there. My dad always — always — has at least one book on the go.
I’m not sure where he acquired this taste for books and art. He grew up in a house with little money, and although both his parents were literate, I don’t recall a lot of books in my grandparents’ home. (Although I do recall with great fondness how my grandfather would pull you over to share an article from the newspaper. It made me feel special that he wanted to share it with me.) As for art, well … there was a massive velvet matador rug hanging on a wall. Let’s just leave it at that.
As for where I acquired this somewhat irrational need, especially in this day of e-readers, to surround myself with pretty paper bound together … I place the blame squarely on my father’s shoulders. I must have observed him with his nose in a book so many countless times that I concluded books were like a magical spell to which one happily surrendered themselves. In fact, as of late, I have joined the crowds on pinterest (an online bulletin board that allows you to pin up items that you find of interest and enjoy a voyeuristic tour of the pin boards of others), and I have a board titled “Books are little lovers.” Because, really, besides a book, what could hold a person’s attention with such force other than a new lover?
It will come as no surprise to you then that when I took my recent trip to New York City, beautiful book stores were visited. One of these was in a Brooklyn neighbourhood called Williamsburg. Home to artists and indie bands, and more recently, a gentrified collection of boutiques and shops, my friend Kerry and I were staying in a nearby area of Brooklyn and we toured over to Williamsburg on foot.
As soon as you walk in, your heartbeat slows and you melt into the vibe of Spoonbill & Sugartown Booksellers.
First opened in 1999, this bookstore specializes in both new and used books — contemporary art, design, architecture, photography, philosophy, and literature. Although I could spend an entire day in practically any bookstore, I know for certain that I could have spent at least two days in this one. Which is saying quite a bit since they are open from 10 am to 10 pm every day of the week!
Published in 1974, the authors believe that there are three elements fundamental to a successful house: rooms to live in, machines that serve life, and the dreams of the inhabitants. As someone who pours his soul into everything he builds, I really thought he’d enjoy this book.
I also picked up a book for my three-year-old son Max. Impossible to resist, I am a Bunny is a recreation of an original Golden book first published in 1963.
I loved the large images, with simple text. There’s much more to this book that I love, but I just don’t have the right words to describe it. And Max, as I suspected, adores it too.
Now, do I need to admit that I also treated myself to a book? Well of course, mes amis! It was “Month of Me,” wasn’t it? So, the book that I picked up for myself has a NYC beat to it. Titled Netherland, the publisher description reads:
“Unexpectedly finding himself marooned among the strange occupants of New York’s Chelsea Hotel, feeling lost in the country he has come to regard as home, Hans van den Brock begins an unlikely friendship with Chuck Ramkissoon, a charming Trinidadian who introduces Hands to an “other” America populated by immigrants and strivers of every race and nationality.”
I wish I could say I’ve read it. But for now, it sits prettily on the mighty stack of books by my bed. I have a lot of books waiting to be read. They are all so lovely; just having them around makes me happy.
Disclosure: if you click on one of the book images above, the links are what are called “affiliate” links. What this means is that if you buy a book from one of my links, I will receive a 4% commission from the total price of the sale. So, if you are going to buy one of these books, please use my links because I will get rich if you do. Rich! Rich, I tell ya!