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The Library

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” – Jorge Luis Borges (Argentinian Poet and Essayist, 1899-1986)

My boyfriend is a staunch bibliophile. He refuses to partake in the e-book craze and much prefers the feel of bent paper, dog eared pages, and leather-bound tomes. He loves to display his finished books on a shelf as a trophy in a case – earned and conquered. Our apartment has books in every room. We have them in our kitchen for cooking, we have them in our living room for coffee table displays, we have them on our bar cart touting our favorite reads for conversational purposes, in our bedroom they line the two, ceiling height bookcases and surround us with favorite fairytales and folklore, the office is a strict nonfiction and “how-to” zone. Even in our bathrooms, books are kept on shelves, and hidden magazine racks so that we can always have access to the written word!

Aside from spreading knowledge in the days of Gutenberg, books are now used for a bevy of purposes not strictly educationally related. Books, because of their price and rarity, at one point were considered sacred. Now a book is ubiquitous, indeed, some are for sale as low at $0.25 a piece at local Salvation Army’s and Goodwills. Because of their inexpensive and often outdated status, I will be the first to say “it is OK to deface a book”.

Two years ago at The Museum of Arts and Design on Columbus Circle in NYC I saw an exhibition titled Slash: Paper Under The Knife (October 7, 2009 – April 4, 2010).  It highlighted the resurgence of crafting with paper, and particularly using books as the facade of a diorama or the canvas of a scene. One artist, Noriko Ambe, impressed me the most:

‘artists who make pieces, artists who do books’ from the cutting book series with ed rushca, 2008 by Noriko Ambe

“A Thousand of Self” by Noriko Ambe

a lion, in oil’ from the cutting book series with ed rushca, 2007 by Noriko Ambe

“Flat File Globe 3A Red Version” (2007) by Noriko Ambe

Many more artists redefine what it is to work with paper, and in particular, books. One favorite compendium for DIY-ers, and a gift I received from a friend, is entitled The Repurposed Library.


For these projects, Lisa Occhipinti rescues and repurposes orphaned and outdated books from flea markets and library sales and turns them into new art objects and practical items for the home. Her creations range from artfully constructed mobiles, wreaths, and vases, to functional items like shelves, storage boxes, and even a Kindle/Nook “keeper” for those who want to replicate the sensation of holding a “real” book while reading from an e-reader. Interested? Read more here.

One of my favorite “time-wasters” is to walk down 5th Avenue in NYC to see the latest trends in window displays. A window display has the ability to transport the viewer into a perfect diorama space, a completely curated box that holds an artists vision. I often notice the window decor long before I decide on favorite new fashions. Yesterday, one store in particular caught my eye, Club Monaco. The store was bedecked in reams of pages, befitted in chapters from days gone by. The pages were not just used as decoration or objects d’art, they actually served a functional purpose. Some books were used as jewelry displays, others as earring holders, some as shelving. The aging, neutral colors of the booklets and brochures actually gave the store a beautiful, delicate, and antiquated vibe. The main colors were grays, yellows, and oaken wood browns. The effect was that of a pastoral and provincial farmhouse

Books are some of the easiest supplies to procure – can be bought in bulk – and can speak volumes about one’s personality. Wanting your decor to describe you as a person? Choose out-of-date printings (cheaper) of your favorite series or novel on Cut, Chop, Curl, and Pin the Pages to display on a wall, in a frame, or hanging like a mobile. However you decide to decorate, your guests will know that you’re a Gatsby Girl, or a Jane Austen Lover, a Shakespearian She, or Partial to Pulitzers. I would most likely decorate my bathroom with the “Fantasy/Horror Genre”.  A wall filled with Dr. Seuss novels, mimicking wallpaper, would be my dream for a a whimsical kid’s room.

(Coco de Paris prints, $10-$18)
The Dewey Decimal System allows for infinite classifications and modifications (ranging from Humorous to Religious to Scientific to Futuristic), so too should your decor!

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Keren Veisblatt Toledano is a User Experience Designer at Berya LLC. In her spare time she can be found soaking in Epsom salts, admiring copper pots, reading dystopian science fiction or sneaking a slice of lemon into her drinks. Her motto is, “A morning without coffee is sleep.” She lives in Philly with her cat, Cagney, partner, Michael, and son, Josiah.