I have too many books. I have two stacks of books by my bed which are my “I will get to you when I get to you” reading list. But I also have at least
three four five (?) other stacks squirrelled away around my house for books I also want to read, or books given to me as gifts, or books I’ve bought for other people and decided to keep for myself (no joke, I have a problem). Plus, I have at least three giant bookcases full of my books and books I inherited from my late father.
I would actually pay someone to come into my house and help me cull my book collection and organize it and possibly help me build at least two more bookcases? What I would not do is pay someone to buy more books so that my bookshelves would look fancier. But that’s what Gwyneth Paltrow and other celebrities are doing. They’re hiring Thatcher Wine (that’s the guy’s real name) to be their “celebrity bibliophile” and buy books for them and help them arrange those books on their bookshelves. Town & Country interviewed him and he spilled some tea on his ridiculous job:
What he thinks about the rise of books in home décor: “My invention for the book jacket means that someone can have the complete works of Jane Austen, but in a certain Pantone chip color that matches the rest of the room or with a custom image. People have invested in how their home looks: They chose the cabinets, the carpets, the paint, and the window coverings. Why settle for books that a publisher designed? Books can have as much style as anything else in the room.
What is on Gwyneth’s bookshelf? “Gwyneth remodeled her L.A. home a few years ago and when she moved in she realized she needed about five or six hundred more books to complete the shelves. I looked at books she already owned, which focused on fashion, art, culture, photography, and architecture, as well as books that her kids liked. We expanded on those topics, and for the kids, we included a selection of classics that we thought they might like as they got older. In the family room we integrated the books into her existing collection so that it felt very light, inviting, and easy to grab off the shelves. In the dining room, we stuck to a more rigid color palette of black, white, and gray since it was less of a space where one might hang out and read.
“When she moved in she realized she needed about five or six hundred more books to complete the shelves…” This is so absurd to me, I laughed. I’ve had brutal moves before – I’m still traumatized by the move out of my college rental, honestly – and those moves are devastating because I know I won’t be able to take all of my books. I still miss some collections of poetry I left behind in a move more than a decade ago!! But to move to a new house, look around and decide that you “needed about five or six hundred more books to complete the shelves”??? HOW? How do you not bring your books with you? How do you move into a house and suddenly decide to buy five hundred books AS DECOR? And of course Gwyneth Paltrow is exactly the kind of person who pays someone to fill her house with books she hasn’t read (or even opened), books which are only there as actual decor and intellectual decor. BOOK POSEUR.
Photos courtesy of WENN.
A lot of YouTubers do that nowdays, and a lot of decorators.
Case in point Lydia Elise Millen (popular British YouTuber) actually ordered some books to put in her bookshelves, with a weighting on the vintage (some pages weren’t even cut, iirc). The rooms themselves can be grand and a bit empty, that’s why they’ve gone that way (Lydia is lovely, and mourning her missing cat, so please be gentle).
I like Lydia Elise Millen. It’s complete escapism.
I love homes with one to many books.
When the ‘one too many’ becomes too too many, think about setting up your own little free library- littlefreelibrary.org
The community this builds just warms my heart. I’ve lived in high rise buildings where we’ve done this in common areas.
The first big shelf you see at the Strand bookstore in NY is filled with exactly that – color coordinated books sold by foot. It sounds ridiculous but honestly, I don’t care how you get books into people’s houses as long as you can get as more as possible. Those who pretend to read won’t fool anyone anyway, including themselves.
This guy has the easiest job in the world. He has hit the $$ jackpot, more power to him!
Goopy makes me laugh so much, she is so self-involved. I love the british phrase “up her own arse” this is Goopy is a nutshell.
Don’t we all wish we had the $$ for nonsense like this? Most people are fighting to make ends meet, have illnesses for their loved ones, or you know, a zillion other concerns..
But do any of those books spark joy?
Sounds as if she had a lot of coffee-table books with pretty pictures. How much did she pay this guy to match her books to the paint job? Why ‘settle’ for a book designed by a publisher, indeed? For that matter, why settle for a book written by a writer?
Right? At some point, it’s going to just be the dust jacket/cover, and inside – blank pages. Or a brick.
No kidding. Why not just make book shaped boxes out of cardboard or something and line your shelves with those?
Joanna Gaines also does something that irks me. She buys tons of used books for decor and shelves them with the spines facing in for aesthetic reasons. Makes me crazy.
I love books but I’m becoming increasingly intolerant of clutter. My last move I managed to cull my collection and won’t go beyond the four bookcases I have. If I get a new book I get rid of an old one to keep the number from growing. But for the past 9 years I mostly get my books from the library.
She…turns the spines inward so you can’t see the title of the books? But why??
So every book can look the same, like all their designs look the same?
She likes the look of the pages and doesn’t care about the titles. Crazy. And her little kids help her decorate sometimes and this is the message they’re getting…that books are just pretty knickknacks. Yuck.
We had tons of books, dating back childhood, and did a ruthless purge a couple of years ago. Kept the most meaningful ones, still about 4 bookcases worth. It was very freeing and honestly I don’t miss the ones that are gone. I can get them online if I need to.
Just when I thought I couldn’t dislike the Gaines family empire of decorating sameness, along comes this piece of information….
I LOVE BOOKS! Maybe once in a while we can do a reading post where we all give book recommendations? I’m always looking for my next book….
I am a total bookworm, and so is my mom, so if you ever want suggestions I am here! My go-to genre is fantasy, but I also love historical fiction, history (especially Tudor England, pre-revolutionary France and Russia), and some horror too.
Let’s just say that I can totally relate to those of us who have way too many books…even when I do cull, I just end up buying new books, be it on my Kindle or in paper. Whoops. 😛
I’m so down! I’m a huge reader
“It’s not that I don’t like people. It’s just that when I’m in the company of others – even my nearest and dearest – there always comes a moment when I’d rather be reading a book.”
I….I think I may have just found my life’s motto…thank you!
CB used to have a book club, I loved it.
Good reads is a wonderful site with book reviews and exchange of opinions from around the world.
Second re Goodreads!
I would love a celebitchy book club. I’m not much of a book reader but this idea sounds so great to me. I trust all your tastes. Seems like it would be fun.
Sounds like a cool job though—get to know someone and think about the books they might like, based on what they have… set up some bookshelves, read a little (it’s research!), pick out a few more books, read a little more, submit a big fat invoice, borrow a few books…
I…don’t see the issue with this. They were curated based on what she and her kids liked and classics. It’s not like he went and bought a bunch of non-descript books from Dollar Tree to fill the space.
But has she ever read a single one?
hit the nail on the head!
Of course not.
I have a friend who’s read extensively and she coordinated her collection by color. Which I think is cool because it’s just making stylistic choices about what she already cherishes. However I do think she’s now influenced by certain colors of dust jackets when she goes out to the bookstore now!
I’ve done this before. It was a fun thing to do before I culled most of my collection in favor of Kindle books. Now I just look at my remaining collection and consider making different book jackets so that people don’t see how many books about serial killers I have.
OMG! Me too! LOL. I’m a therapist but I started that collection waaaay before I went back to school.
My friend’s boyfriend has done that. And he definitely now only chooses new books that fit the color scheme. I bought my friend a book for his birthday and he was happy that it fit with his collection. That was completely unintentional on my part.
At first I laughed. It is absurd. So absurd. But here’s the thing, I love love love spending time in a bookstore. I love everything about it. And it’s been a while since I’ve done it. How would I feel if I could walk over to my personal library and discover a new recommendation? Where is it written that our personal collections have to house only books read or personally purchased? This is like paying for an ongoing gift. If someone gets to know me, my tastes, books I’ve read and designs a list of must-reads, I think I might enjoy it. Having said THAT, decorating according to jackets and illustrations is as vapid as it sounds. But this is Gwynnie Poo.
I will never give up any of my books by force again. We’re in a home, we have the room and storage, and the space I take up on the shelves and in bins is my own business, boyfriend!
I think it’s not the purchasing of all the books that’s vapid, sounds like this guy actually tailors the books to the homeowner, so there’s at least the possibility that they will be read. It’s that Gwyneth (and others) thought “good decor? books”. Regardless of use or not, it feels like that is their idea of the primary function. It’s a look behind the image they want to cultivate.
This fake environmentalist might consider an e-reader for material she probably won’t ever touch. Books use paper and lining your home with things you don’t need or appreciate is just excess wastefulness.
I buy antique books for home decor, because the covers and spines are works of art.
I can’t see going out and buying a bunch of new books just to fill space on a shelf and match a paint color, but I’m not at all surprised.
Decades ago, I worked in a used book store. We had decorators come in to do just this. My boss would buy up books that were decorative and/or uniform( book club “classics” sets, Encylopedia, etc) and set a “by the yard” price. We would roll our eyes at the decorators, but hey, a sale is a sale.
I paid people to pack and move me when I left my last flat for this place and they were NOT impressed by the amount of books they had to shift. Worth every penny though and I have since spent £600 on custom bookshelves to house some of the collection on the landing at the top of the stairs. Also worth every penny. Couldn’t live without my books.
Anyone can do this https://www.booksbythefoot.com
Designers and decorators have been doing this for years. I think a “book curator” is a dumb thing and goop is terrible but I honestly don’t care if people want their books arranged (or purchased) by color or theme or whatever they want. And you really don’t need to pay someone to do this.
That website is making me ill ! So much beautiful, valuable knowledge, sold without respect, and intended to serve as merely an interesting item to look at, but never open… lord help our society
Let’s be honest, Gwyneth only reads are her own good reviews. Anything else would be a waste of time because she already knows everything and she’s extremely busy cooking meals from scratch and destroying families.
I want to see Oprah’s book collection.
Buying books that fit the colour scheme of a room. You can’t make this shit up.
I…have done this. I inherited a set of history books from my parents when they downsized, but the dust jackets were trashed. The books themselves were in good shape, but the covers had worn down, torn, faded. So I found a shop that makes custom book jackets and had them recovered, and yes, I picked the colors based on our reading room’s color scheme. I had the books covered in bright colors that stand out against the dark shelves. It looks very nice, and I am considering having more books recovered because the effect is such a statement. The shop I went to also let me pick images, font, and custom copy for the covers. This is for a three volume set on the Civil War, so I had a font designed that looks like handwriting from a Civil War letter. I love books, and have always kept every book I’ve ever read. Recovering that set turned out to be a really fun way to reengage with volumes I hadn’t picked up in years.
You mean she didn’t just order.her own nyt best seller/promoted books and have them wrapped in whatever color Pantone deigned as the hue of the year? Whaa…?
While I’d much rather glamorize books than demonize them, people who don’t read will always show their stripes. Paltrows ex friend Madonna is a reader, Gwyneth is totally not. She is def a book poseur
Before Gwyneth bought her house, it was open to the public as a show home. It’s completely gorgeous, naturally. I remember the family room having at least two walls of floor to ceiling book shelves. You could probably fit at least a thousand books on just those shelves, and that’s not even accounting for the other built ins around the house. It’s very possible she already had a large collection of, it sounds like mostly art books, but didn’t like the half empty look of the shelves. I would prefer to fill them over time, but not everyone feels that way, I get it.
Remember when Lauren Conrad destroyed a book by ripping out the pages so she could arts-and-crafts the cover and spine as a purse?
I used to read all the time and then the explosion of smart phones and social media happened. I decided I needed to get back into reading. My sister bought me a Kindle for Christmas and I love it! I finished reading Michelle Obama’s book and am currently reading “Blood Child” by Octavia Butler.
I used to hoard books too until I found out I could donate them and they would get resold at this annual large book sale they have every year that benefits The Literacy Association.
Love it. Of course she did. Hahahahahhahahahqhha
I actually like the idea of recovering books, my house is very neutral Scandinavian style and the mix of colours on my book shelves is very visually cluttered to me. I also would love to have curated books for me as It takes me ages to read summaries and decide what to buy which I just don’t always have time for. I buy a lot of used books so if that was a service I would love it because it’s harder to find books in used book stores. I don’t see how it’s any different than a “suggested list”, or “you may also like” or staff picks stickers on books that help people navigate the literal hundreds of thousands of books available.
“In the dining room, we stuck to a more rigid color palette of black, white, and gray …”
I like those colors, but in a dining room? Is this to discourage eating?
It’s to make the color of the limes pop.
Color me surprised Goopy doesn’t read much.
I am an avid reader, and I love books. However, even though I have one packed bookshelf, no one would know how much I read from looking at my apartment. Why? Because I get the majority of my books from the library. I have moved many times–too many times to hang on to the countless books I have read. I kind of wish I had a big library of my own for all those books, but I just prefer using the library constantly.
Talk about peak rich white bitch Hollywood status. I’ve known a few people who have that many books in their own home libraries, where those books have been curated over their adult lifetime and ACTUALLY READ. For the money she spent on that, she could have probably bought every kids textbooks in the school district for the next 5 years.
OMG, I’m dyin’ over here, HAHAHAHAHA “Oh, Jeeves, I just want to LOOK like I have a clue so put that smart looking book thingy on this shelf to perk up this room a bit”. This is comedy GOLD, and she doesn’t have any clue how utterly ridiculous this is!! LOL
My old boss always sold his previous year’s set of Martindale-Hubbell directories for this purpose. Homes or for a set on tv. Attorneys are always either in court or in their law library.
I have maybe 40 books scattered around my house, most of which I got in college. I’m not much of a book reader but I like having them. John Waters timeless quote “If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ’em!” resonated with me.
If you have more shelves than books to fill them, I thought the strategy was to mix in interesting things among them, between groupings of books.
It’s what I would do if I had that kind of space to spare. As it is, I have had to buy several wooden plant stands, with wheels, and placed stacks of overflow books on them. I have many, many art books that I refuse to give up – I am an artist and need my reference materials should inspiration strike.
I have bought old books at thrift stores or antique shops just because I liked the color of the binding and thought it would look pretty on my shelves.
Between undergrad, law school and med school (for my hubby) plus us both enjoying leisurely reading, we had a TON of books. My decorator did sort them and arrange them in a big RH shelf for our front office. We also went to the store and picked out 3-4 huge gorgeous coffee table books. That’s about all I care to do with that and it’s even more than the average person has time or energy for. It surprises me not that this undereducated but somehow smugly condescending troll would hire someone to buy 500 books to decorate her home.
I don’t colour code per say but I use books to represent things. My husband shares a first AND last name with an inventor of a famous product so I have a book on that item, sitting with Homer’s Odyessy (my daughter is named for a character), and a coffee table book about Queen (my son’s middle name is Freddie), and books that reference the name of every dog we’ve had. Other represent my parents, siblings, best friends, etc. They sit together on a tall dresser in my room and its a big deal to add something to the pile because it means someone is welcomed into the family in some way. I try to find unique editions or stories I love. Its like my own private homage to those I care about in book form.
Oh why did I not think of this as a side hustle??
a book buyer for posers, Gwen is so shallow and fake.
There is no way I’d want anyone to know this, he’d have to sign a NDA.
poor gwennie, LOL.
I have boxes of books that I don’t have room for. And COLOR COORDINATING your books???? Idiots.
Oh! I have experience with this!
I ordered a used history book from Etsy four or five years ago, but got a massive case of books delivered instead, all with different shades of green spines. I messaged the store owner, and she said something like, “I accidentally slapped your address on books meant for an interior design job.”
She mailed my history book separately, and told me to keep or donate the case of green books, as they weren’t worth her paying to ship them back. They weren’t great titles, and most were old and shabby. I donated the whole huge case.
I read up on the practice and was shocked that people decorate with books they never open or intend to read.
So what happens in five years when she decides to change her color palette? Does she get rid of all those books and buy 1,000 new ones? Or does she pay a ridiculous amount of money to have them all re-covered?
It’s not the buying-books that bothers me, it’s this weird idea that you have to buy them ALL AT ONCE. Why not allow the shelves to fill organically over time? Isn’t it more beautiful to let your kids choose books they truly want to read and then put them on the shelf for posterity, something to be picked up 15 years from now with the exclamation, “Oh, I loved this book!”
And just because you BUY all the classics for your kids doesn’t mean they’re going to read them (I know — I have classics that my 15-year-old is just not interested in).
Somehow this is not suprising relating to her.
It does kind of make me sad to read that books are bought by the foot and by color, It just seems so fake and dishonest.
I would also never consider redesigning book jackets as I have respect for the work the graphic designers put into them (if they are falling apart or too old that’s a different story).