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Saturday, March 01, 2008


Bookshelves As Fashion?

My fellow LA Observed contributor, Erika Schickel, author of You're Not The Boss Of Me: Adventures Of A Modern Mom, opines with wry wit on the interior design trend of using books as an "image-enhancing badge of literacy:"
Ever hot to trot for image enhancement of any kind, moneyed LA homeowners are creating "liahbrries." They are buying expensive, designer shelving, then lining those shelves with books. But look again! Some of these books are faux books, pieces of rock and plastic made to look like books. Sometimes the shelf-owners don't actually like books, so they hire “library consultants” to go out and buy books to arrange on their expensive shelves like so much knick-knackery.

Schickel's piece stirred memories of my last set of cinder-block shelves, a not-so-temporary piece of furniture with which I parted nearly 10 years ago. Those blocks weren't simply jetsam picked from the sandy shores of an industrial-park under construction. I had modified them, painted the gray away with a black primer, and accented the corners in a shiny faux gold (the same sort of metallic spray paint used to make car emblems and Jesus fish look shiny). The boards were pressed wood, also painted black, stretched 20 feet across three stacks of blocks, three vertical blocks high. (Sigh.) I carted them through four residences in two states, and then ... that ... dumpster ... I ... (sob).

Several years ago I was appalled to find, in Vancouver, BC, exactly what Shickel's piece talks about. It was a fantastic pub with books on three walls and booze on the fourth; the perfect combination of libation and literature. Except ... the books had been cut lengthwise, one inch from the binding and glued together against the walls. Thank God the proprietor didn't do the same thing with the bottles of booze, but, for God's sake, can that possibility be far off? Coming soon to a chic coffee salon, or frozen-yogurt boutique near you ...

— TJ Sullivan in LA
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