By Alison February 8, 2005 4 Comments 3 Min Read


Now a lot of people disagree with me on this, but I do not believe that for the most part, books are precious objects. Yes, of course there are books I will always treasure, books I rely on, and books that hold lovely, lovely memories, but I would never, ever keep a paperback I read with the same throwaway attitude I do a magazine. Nor would I keep a hardback book I did not adore, nor a book I had been given as a gift if I had not enjoyed it. My house isn’t big enough. My brain isn’t big enough… 

So what to do? While some people think throwing books away is sacreligious, I have no qualms about chucking a paperback past its prime into the recycling bin. But more than that I love to pass books on (BookCrossing is a wonderful idea), particuarly if I have enjoyed a book and want to share what I have learned from it with others. So I give my books as little gifts: Thank you for visiting me gifts. Happy Wednesday gifts. Cheer up gifts. And once in a blue moon I have a book sweep and send all those books I couldn’t bear to part with six months before, to the charity shop.

Which of course, makes all those books that survive my vicious streak that bit more precious, so once in a while I make them part of my puttering routine… 

Lovely Puttery Treats For Your Bookcase…

Take the books off each shelf one by one, and using a feather duster, dust the shelves and the books themselves, ever so gently.

Paste Bookplates into the left hand inside cover of your most precious books.

Cover ludicrously ugly, but essential books in pretty vintage paper.

Take off battered bookcovers and display older books in all their dusty coloured loveliness as part of tabletop displays throughout the house.

Store the paper covers themselves flat and if they are particuarly lovely, frame them and hang them near your library or bookcase.

Revolve the books you have by your bedside, in the loo, in the kitchen and by your favorite armchair so there is always something new to inspire you.

Re-arrange your bookcase, in alpabetical order, subject matter, or for a real visual treat, in rows of like colours.

Intermingle tiny little objet, jewelled photo frames and sparkly bits of this and that with your books.

Take yourself on a creative excursion for a new bookmark. Vintage postcards are divine.

Buy yourself a reading pillow. Stuff a little basket with bookmarks, reading glasses, post-it notes, a little notebook, some pns, a dictionary and a little box of violet creams, choose a book you love and retire to bed early… 

Paint the back of your bookcase in a dramatic shade for glimpses of colour and line the shelves on which the books sit with vintage paper cut with a rick rack edge.

On special occasions, light up your bookcase with oodles of teeny little glass teaholders, glittering prettily amongst the matt covers of your vintage book collection.

When you have finished puttering, choose an old favorite, make tea the old fashioned way and put your feet up for an hour or two of fabulous company.


  1. Tami says:

    It's obvious that you love your books like I do.
    Thanks for sharing the great ideas and reminding me to spend time with my old freinds and maybe moving them around to view in a new light.

  2. Wendy says:

    I often lose days by tidying out my bookcase and putting all my favourite things out on display then once I am happy with my display I move onto my little boy's bookcase and do the same for him. Fortunately he loves my displays too!! Absolutely scrumptious site Alison

  3. Mimi says:

    Another lovely thing I have started doing, on the advice of Nigella Lawson (each month in Easy Living Magazine they have a 'my life in books' feature- fascinating stuff!) is to cut out reviews of books that I have bought, or print them off of the internet, and paste them inside the book. In future years, when you look back on the book, or when you pass them on, contemporary reviews allready inside!

  4. TASCHEN have a new book coming out called 'Shop America: Mid Century Store Front Design 1938-50' – could I send you an information sheet?
    We also publish diaries and calendars on Elvgren pin-up girls and Vintage Playboy.

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