Shelf Shame: The Realities of Readers’ Bookshelves

Each catalog I see. Each edition of Real Simple I flip through in a half-hearted effort to magically become an organized human being. Each time that Martha Stewart shows her perfectly-together post-felony face on my television screen. The shame, it comes on hot and insistent. I look around my house at my library and feel like a complete failure at life.

I mean, just look at this hot mess!

curated bookshelves

Okay, okay. Not mine. But a girl can dream, can’t she?

Does your life just feel more together when you have a shelf of this quality in your home? Do you feel like you can bake the perfect gluten-free, locally sustainable cupcakes? Throw your daughter a Pinterest-worthy birthday party complete with printed paper straws placed in twee Mason jar drinks? Cook all the kale and quinoa in a way where people legitimately prefer it over a greasy pepperoni pizza?

A few of my fellow Book Riot contributors were nice enough to share their own secret bookshelf shame. On the left, a perfectly curated bookshelf (where, let’s be honest, the books are not the focus) I found across the interwebs. On the right, what a reader’s bookshelf actually looks like. No room for decorative plants, books crammed in edge-to-edge, no delicately arranged prints, books stacked two (sometimes three) deep.

bookshelves comparison 1

[Alice Burton‘s bookshelf]

bookshelves comparison 2

[Nicole Mulhausen‘s bookshelf]

bookshelves comparison 3

[Jamie Canaves‘ bookshelf]

bookshelves comparison 4

[Karina Glaser‘s bookshelf]

bookshelves comparison 5

[Kristina Pino‘s bookshelf]

bookshelves comparison 6

[Kelly Jensen‘s bookshelf]

bookshelves comparison 7

[Liberty Hardy‘s bookshelf]

But in the end, any book lover knows that books are the best decoration any house can hold. I have big plans (that I’m hoping to implement soon) for my own library, but in the meantime… my bookshelves

All the books on these shelves represent the many hours I’ve spent in another place, as another person, learning something about myself and the world.

What could be more beautiful?



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