Drew Barrymore has custom bookshelves and books lining her living room

2021 CFDA Fashion Awards

I only got two books for Christmas. I’m happy to have them, I just expected more. I bought other people books that I intend to steal, however, so it’ll all work out. And the truth is, I don’t have any space for any more because the ones I bought right before Christmas keep falling off my nightstand. As much as I love to read, I have shockingly few bookshelves in my home. In other words, I am no Drew Barrymore. Drew, who is an author and an avid reader, posted a cute series of clips to her Instagram on New Year’s Eve of herself watching When Harry Met Sally. However, what most people took away from these vids is the fact that Drew has an entire room lined with custom bookshelves filled with hundreds of books:

A jealous b*tch says what?! This isn’t a library per se because it doesn’t look dedicated to reading (yes, I fell down a rabbit hole of room definitions, thankyouverymuch). This looks like a family/TV room that has had bookshelves installed. The first video gives us the best view of the shelves. The few things we can take from these clips is that Drew does not subscribe to the Marie Kondo view of book collecting. Or she maybe she does because Drew’s joy is sparked by books. I, by contrast, followed Kondo’s method without knowing it. I’m might have a few more than 30 books, but my bookcase only has books that mean something to me or my husband. Besides those, I have one shelf of “to-reads” along with the aforementioned nightstand, which can get a little out of hand, only because it’s tiny.

Do you think Drew has read all those books? Or are those her To Read shelves? Or did she hire Gwyneth Paltrow’s book decorator to line her shelves with filler books? I have watched these stupid clips so many times I feel like a stalker. I keep trying to look at the book spines because none of them seem cracked. That doesn’t mean they are filler books, but the shelves are pristine. I’m looking at my shelves and my poor, overly loved books can’t even hold a line. I have my mother’s high school copy of the The Three Musketeers up there – that’s 70 years of love warping it. Those babies have been read and re-read – a couple have been dropped in the tub or had a cup of coffee spilled on them. I just loaned my copy of The Great Gatsby to my son and the cover fell off. I know Drew is a reader, so my guess is these are her to-reads and books that were sent to her. She probably had those shelves built in because she needed a place for all her books. For what it’s worth, I love the look of her book room. I think a person should display their books however they want. I don’t even mind people who color coordinate their books. It’s their shelves. I guess, like Marie Kondo, I just want them to see joy when they look at them. When I look at my bookshelves, I feel like I’m surrounded by old friends, that’s how I like it. Maybe Drew, being the bright and bubbly person she is, sees all these books as new friends she’s about to make. Whatever her design scheme is, I wish I could get an invite to come hang out in that room.


CFDA Fashion Awards

Photo credit: Avalon Red and Instagram

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60 Responses to “Drew Barrymore has custom bookshelves and books lining her living room”

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  1. tempest prognosticator says:

    A room full of books is my happy place.

  2. FancyPants says:

    I’m so jealous! People always ask me if I’ve read all my books, and it’s such a bizarre question to me. Why would I have books I’m not reading? After reading your observations on the spines, it must be because I don’t crack the spines. I hate that! I quit letting my mom borrow my books when I was a child because she absolutely destroyed the spines, she would fold paperbacks around backwards like a magazine and give it back to me all ugly.

    • Jezz says:

      I’m the opposite! Mine are cracked and dogeared and often wrinkled from getting wet in the bath. I read my favourites over and over and have multiple copies of them. I consider it donating in perpetuity to the author!

    • MissMarirose says:

      I’m the same way. I don’t crack the spines of my books if I can help it. I tend to think that the covers, including the font/manuscript work on the spines, are art, so I don’t want to ruin it with big cracks.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        I hate when books are disrespected, except paperback books, which will be in the bathtub with me which tend to get wet, often.

    • tealily says:

      Why is that always the question? I mean, I’ve read some of them, some of them are books I’m keeping around because I want to read them. I have a selection so I can pick something out. I think the “have you read them all” question is rude and accusatory. I feel like they’re suggesting that I’m keeping them as decor.

  3. Merricat says:

    Lol, part of the excitement of getting married was the merging of books and bookshelves! My dream home has built-ins that line three walls of a very spacious room (the fourth wall is windows).

    • BothSidesNow says:

      Me too!!! Except for me, it will be when we build out the attic. The peak will serve as a floor to ceiling window, and the two neighboring walls will be filled with books!!! We have so many that they are spilling out in my bedroom, which has a 3 panel wall of bookcases. To which we also have a 14’ wall of bookcase, but not floor to ceiling. But my dream is the attic window with neighboring book cases! We love books! So many read and re-read. Books from trips or trips to take! The more the merrier!! We are both voracious readers! In fact, we leaned that the previous home owner had to borrow books to fill the bookcases!!! Which I couldn’t comprehend!!

  4. Mcmmom says:

    We own thousands of books – I have bookshelves all over my house. We are hoping to move in 2022 and my husband knows that we will have to accommodate the books in a new house. My problem is that unless a library has floor to ceiling bookshelves on at least three walls, it won’t be enough.

    Two houses ago, I spent three days organizing the books by topic and author and it was glorious to know where everything was. I haven’t been able to do it since, but someday…

    • Jezz says:

      I organize my fiction by country. Always have. But I have a special shelf for my girls (Wolfe, Bronte, Fielding, Binchy , they all live together — I’m not a snob for the canon!)

    • manda says:

      My husband and I have turned our dining room into a library, we never had a table in there, and there are shelves along all four walls (one wall has a big picture window, and underneath we put a bench with storage, so it’s basically three walls). This was all in the last year because we had STACKS of books everywhere in our house! It was looking like a hoarding situation. My husband found an app called LibraryThing and we have scanned all of our books into it (1156, not counting recent christmas gifts; I know we will slack on this in the future but I will try hard not to!), and we LOOOOOOOOVE our library. We love books. If a thrift store sells books for $1 or less, I will buy a bag of books. I also do netgalley bc those ones are free!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope to alphabetize and sort into some order at some point, but we at least created a “to-be-read” when we first moved them all down, and put all the trades (comics) into one place, so that’s something

    • LadyMTL says:

      I bought a condo in 2016 and one of the hardest parts of packing / moving was having to do a ‘book cull’ because I just had so many that I knew I couldn’t bring them all. Even after that I still had 40 boxes of them, whoops.

      I currently have four bookcases and they’re all full, and my TRP is currently at nine (plus a good 7 on my Kindle.) I sort them by author and subject, as much as possible. I hope to one day move into an actual house, and my plan is also to have floor to ceiling bookshelves, fingers crossed. In the meantime, I get creative with shelving lol.

    • Mac says:

      We used to have hundreds of books and when we renovated our house, we asked ourselves why. We both picked 50 books we wanted to keep and gave the rest away. Now, when we read a book we immediately pass it on to a friend.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      I do the same thing, as we have so many on a degree of books that will fill an entire category, ie traveling, gardening, etc..

      I have never been able to consider color coding the spines as they are separated by interest. Though, love to those that can die to it filling my need to have items color coordinated, ie my clothes.

      We have been in this house for 20 years and you accumulate a lot of books!!! Especially if your husband believes in purchasing 12 books regarding one certain form of planting herbs/vegetables.

    • LynnInTX says:

      Mine (7 bookcases full – down from 18 a long time ago) are organized in a way that probably only makes sense to me. I have collections together sorted in an order that’s only in my head. Series are together on one bookcase, but the author separation only makes sense in my head (it’s not by genre OR alphabetical). My textbooks from college are housed in one bookcase, separated by subject and in class order, but the subject order makes no sense to anyone else (I have physics followed by math then chemistry. After that is music, then French, then nutrition, and then Russian.) My ‘to-read’ bookcase is sorted in what probably seems like the weirdest order ever – but it’s the order I want to read them in. My journals take up part of that bookcase as well. I have one bookcase that’s spirituality related books. The rest are miscellaneous, in alphabetical order, except when they aren’t. Favorites are pulled out and put on the top shelf, and any out-of-print books that are also favorites are put in a different place altogether. And yet, I can lay my hands on any book requested in seconds. (And very, very few of my spines are cracked. Most of the ones that are I bought second-hand and they came that way).

      @manda – thank you for mentioning that app! I’m looking over it now and I think I’m going to get a lot of use out of it.

  5. Becks1 says:

    I love being surrounded by books. Right now most of my piles (nightstand, window sill in family room, coffee table, sofa table, end table) are TBR but there are some that I read and liked so I keep around. We also have boxes and boxes of books downstairs that I need to go through bc some of them I genuinely don’t want anymore (I have a lot of my mom’s romance novels from the 70s, where rape was used as a plot device often, the Black Lyon by Jude Deveraux, I’m looking at you, so those can go) but there are a lot that I want to keep and I need to organize them. Basically I need a room like Drew’s.

  6. Jessica says:

    Built in bookcases are the best! Love her room. I Marie Kondo’d my books about six years ago when I moved cross country, and again about 1.5 years ago when I moved in with my boyfriend. I have pitifully few books at this point, but they’re almost all favorites. I’ve almost gotten away from buying physical books- I’m using the library and my kindle a lot more. I’ve been trying to read a little before bed every night, to get back in the habit, and my kindle is just so convenient for that. I don’t have to turn on a light or juggle a book light, I can just snuggle in my pillows and blankets and when I get sleepy, I barely have to move.

  7. BW says:

    We turned our useless living room into a library by lining every single wall with custom, carved wood bookshelves. There’s a big window and two comfy recliners and a world globe. It’s our favorite room I the house. There’s also a couple of back bedrooms lined with cheap bookshelves for the overflow.

  8. Eurydice says:

    My dream is to buy a library and live in it. Until then, I’ve got over 1,000 books, which don’t include my knitting library of books, magazines and patterns. I don’t have built in bookshelves, but lots of free-standing ones in every room and they’re organized by subject matter. I’m lucky to live practically next door to a library, so I go there for new fiction – otherwise, I think my apartment would sink right through the building into the ground.

  9. Valentina says:

    I have hundreds of books at this point )including a whole bookcase of to-reads) and would love a room like this. The spines not being broken doesn’t mean much – I’m one of those people who are really careful with their books and try not to break the spines if it can be done so you have to look really closely at my read bookcase and unread bookcase to know which is which.

  10. lucy2 says:

    I love her bookshelves! I used to buy a ton of books, especially if there was a library sale or something, I could walk out of there with bags full. I’d rarely hang onto them though, I’d donate or give them to friends once read, unless it was one I wanted to read again someday.
    Now I get most of my reading from the library or on audio, but I do still collect antique books and stuff like art books, so my big shelves are a mix of those and other items.

    • Orangeowl says:

      I love books and I love libraries so it works out well for me to not accumulate too many books. About 10 years ago I decided I wasn’t going to buy any more books than my bookshelves could hold. And then after that if I buy a new one, I have to give away an old one to even it out. It’s worked.

      I love perusing what the library has to offer and getting recommendations from librarians. I once commented that maybe I should start buying more books to help support the book industry and she reminded me that my tax dollars were buy the library’s books, so that made me feel better, lol.

      • lucy2 says:

        I do still buy some, especially if it’s an author I really want to support with a physical purchase, and I try to buy from an independent bookstore. But yeah, libraries are the best. Mine is one of the best systems in the state, and has a wonderful digital catalog as well.

  11. jferber says:

    Yes, I’ve loved books since I was a very little girl and even re-bought those children’s books I remember my mom and grandma reading to me. I actually do have book shelves in my spare room and family room. I became an English teacher and met my husband on a blind date through books, since my friend remembered that both he and I loved books. So books and reading have meant a lot to me my whole life. I would count books and reading a great love of my life.

  12. Case says:

    Wow, what a dream! I’m getting another bookshelf this year for my office and I’m so excited — I finally became the avid reader I’ve always aspired to be in the last year and have acquired quite the collection. I’ve grown up wanting to be Belle and dreaming of a library like in Beast’s castle, lol.

    Re: Marie Kondo, I’m sorry but I feel like a lot of people purposefully misunderstand her on that one. If books bring you joy, she wants you to keep them. And she doesn’t mean literally just “happy books,” as that linked article from a few years ago seems to suggests — if you feel happy to own a book regardless of subject matter, she doesn’t want to take that from you!

  13. Shawna says:

    One of the reasons we bought our house was all the built-in shelving for books, even in the living room and master bedroom. I have shelves dedicated to different things. Library books have their own shelf (easier to return), as do my mysteries. My already-read novels take up the living room, but in my office are the books I haven’t yet read or are for reference, not reading through. So I keep tons of books I haven’t yet read; when I finish a book, I just go shopping upstairs!

  14. Yinyang says:

    I love bookshelves but most of book purchases are online.

  15. tempest prognosticator says:

    @Hecate, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this post and the comments. Just reading about how much other people enjoy books, their bookcases, and their rooms dedicated to books makes me happy.

  16. Marilee says:

    I LOVE reading from an overly worn out book. It’s just a great feeling in your hands. And I love the smell of books that have those really stiff pages. Such great sensory memories.

  17. Lena says:

    I love Drew’s bookshelves. Laughed because around here that TV would be considered too small because it didn’t fill up the entire space. And thanks for that turn down the previous post about goop buying 500 books for decor. It’s my pet peeve to see those houses on Instagram that have hose uniform color fake decor books.

  18. Twin falls says:

    I actually bought a new bookshelf for my Christmas to me present. Being surrounded by books is my happy place. I lived in the library as a child. I love Drew Barrymore even more for loving books so much she’s given them this beautiful space.

  19. Sof says:

    Ahh to have bookshelves. I pile them on my desk, which is slanting for the huge weight.
    When it became too much I made the decision of selling those I’m not interested in re-reading, if they sell: good, more money for books. If they don’t sell, good, I have more books.

    You know who reads a lot and even has a bookclub/reviews books on her personal instagram? Emma Roberts. She is not a nice person but I follow her and Belletrist, they recommend women authors constantly.

  20. thaisajs says:

    If you follow Drew’s insta she does a lot of photos around her house and yeah, she does have a ton of books. She also has some bookshelves in her kitchen, which she showed off last year too cause she was having issues figuring out colors or something. She seems like a very cool lady.

  21. Bibliomommy96 says:

    I have 4 really good book shelves, that are wide enough for “front and back” books. I love them. My books are my friends, and I can never get rid of one. And will take in strays too

  22. Whatnow says:

    I’m going to be the Debbie Downer but please tell me that everyone that’s collecting all these books has set aside money for when they all have to be cleared out. I’ve helped more people clear out parents homes after they’ve passed and it is horrifying how hard it is especially when they have a lot of books.

    Actually I shouldn’t just pick on book collectors but anybody that collects a lot of anything please think of the people that will have to deal with it and set aside money for them because it is a really awful situation when a house needs to be cleared out and there is no money for this.

    P.S. I love books too but long ago I gave up collecting them because I thought I need to share them with people who do not have the luxury of owning books.

    • Dara says:

      Sigh. I feel this on a deep level. I’ve spent the last year sorting through and purging the house I grew up in. Both my mom and dad saved EVERYTHING. If there was room, they kept it. The rotten rubber bands seem to have been given the same priority as precious family heirlooms. I’m trying so hard not to resent the time (and money) I’ve spent on this, but it’s not easy. In the end, about 10% will be kept, and cherished, but it feels like a never ending project.

      I love my stuff, including my own stockpile of books, but I have vowed to never put anyone else in the position I am now in. It all goes while I am still capable of getting rid of it myself.

    • Eurydice says:

      There’s wonderful charity here in Boston called “More Than Words.” They run bookstores, physical and online, and employ and mentor at-risk young people. They’ll come to your house and pick up boxes of books. We did this when a friend passed away and left an enormous library – about half went to a local university, but the rest were picked up by More Than Words.

    • Christine says:

      This is a good point. I recently read an article that said many libraries end up selling or trashing most book donations. While nothing can replace the feel of a book in your hands, I’m on team e-reader. Environmentally friendly and you can still check out books at the library both online and in person. No need to buy books nowadays.

    • Mcmmom says:

      That’s totally Debbie Downer! I feel zero guilt about passing books to my offspring. Although I easily have thousands of books now, I gave away 17 boxes of books a few years ago. Our library takes them – they sell the good ones as a fundraiser and anything that doesn’t sold gets used for craft projects and the like. It’s not hard – my kids can keep the first editions they want and donate the rest. I give them permission to do with them whatever they want.

      When my kids were little, we bought an old house from a retired doctor and renovated it. One of the selling points for him was that we said he could just take what he wanted and leave everything else to us. He left us at least a hundred books – including old medical books and a set of 1974 World Book Encyclopedias. I couldn’t part with them, so we kept them for years and I made my kids use them to write me research papers over the summer. So who knows – they might find some weirdo like me who wants to take the entire collection off their hands :-).

  23. liz says:

    I am so jealous!!!!! We renovated our apartment a few years ago and installed custom bookshelves in the kitchen, the dining room and along a hallway. I wish I’d had enough foresight to install more in the living room. In my next life.

  24. Diamond Rottweiler says:

    For the first time in my adult life I live in a home with floor to ceiling built ins in which I have room for every single one of my books and I can now die happy. I think books and art are what make a house feel alive.

  25. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    We used to have a ton. My husband and sons read everything they can. I enjoy a good book, true (I love The Dresden Files, favorite Stephen King is The Talisman and fav of all time is Number of the Beast by Heinlein), but I don’t mind digital reading. They, of course, want to handle books, smell them, turn pages, all of that. So the books we keep are those they love and read over and over (and my old books), but I’ve been digital reading since the first Kindle came out lol. I’m a book traitor, I admit it. But I can still spend hours in a book store. And I still love books.

  26. Bella says:

    I had thousands of books and in the garage, and my father built bookshelves for all of our books. I have gone digital and read all of my books on my phone from the library. I have saved thousands of dollars and space. Now, it looks like I don’t read at all. LOL

  27. schmootc says:

    I have three Billy bookshelves from Ikea in my living room for my books. And one smaller one in my office for my craft books. The living room ones actually look decent, because I bought the glass doors for the shelves. I don’t have room for anymore though, so the buck stops with them. I got rid of all my romance/fantasy paperbacks a couple of years ago because I wanted the shelf space and some of them were starting to yellow.

  28. Ann says:

    I love it! I want bookshelves like that, just clean-lined, simple, floor to ceiling shelves. Our study is lined with similar shelves but my husband has taken over that room completely now since he’s been working from home so much. The shelves in our living/family room are sort of big “display” shelves which is not my thing, but it would be too much to take them out. So I have coffee table books in there, kids’ books in the kids’ old rooms and tv room, etc.

    I love all kinds of books. We merged our collections when we married and since then I have both purged and bought new books. Some are well-loved, read and worn to bits, some are lightly read but still meaningful, some old ones I bought just because I love books and want to preserve them. I have “aspirational” ones that I plan to read, as well as vintage/antique versions of books I have read even if I didn’t read that actual copy.

    I also collect old atlases and dictionaries if I can get them cheap. Sometimes I sell them, sometimes I keep them, it just depends. I love the look of old maps and the illustrations in dictionaries.

    I love Drew Barrymore. The gift that keeps on giving. When my daughter was little, everyone said she looked like Gertie from ET, lol.

  29. NA says:

    We also have a ton of books and bookshelves throughout our house. Last year we had our contractor/interior designer do some AMAZING custom built floor to ceiling bookshelves for our living room. From start to finish, though, what a fight! He has strong, strong design feelings and disagreed with bookshelves in the living room and almost refused altogether to do the floor to ceiling height we were looking for. Even the carpenter thought we were odd but shruggingly complied. We stood our ground. Now I am filled with so much joy every time I look at our living room.

  30. The Recluse says:

    Except for the very many books that I haven’t read yet (my bedroom overflow!) I keep the vast majority of my library in my guestroom, which would normally be considered the main suite of the house. It gives any guest a chance to look through anything they like. Still, I dream of an actual room dedicated to most of my books – a library/studio (I paint as well as write) for all of my art/exhibition catalogs. I would keep my favorite novels elsewhere, my bedroom most likely. Someday…someday….

  31. Anna says:

    THIS IS A DREAM. As someone that just purchased new bookshelves but lamented my budget was too small for built ins, I’m officially green with envy.

  32. J says:

    I ADORE books. I love reading and get through over 100 fiction books each year. I used to dream of the Beauty and the Beast library. Nowadays, though, I’m dedicated to minimalist living, for my peace of mind mostly, and for the environment. I’ve also moved house many times and it really makes you question what possessions you truly value. I recently helped my parents clear out their garage and they had hundreds of books stored away, most of which had never been read and never would be read. Honestly it was exhausting, and it depresses me how much ‘stuff’ people have that will end up in landfill (we donated/recycled what we could, but there was still waste). I do reread books, probably more than the average person, so I’ve got one bookshelf full of absolute favourites that I’ve read over and over again. I’ll keep borrowing books from the library and I’ve got space to buy the occasional new book if it completely makes its way into my heart. I realise it’s each to their own, though, and I do love looking at other people’s shelves.

  33. MeghaO says:

    I recall an older InStyle article with her that focused on her love for 1st editions and the custom library she had built in the home she and Tom Green lived in. Then remember the horror when she had a house fire and lost many of those books…

  34. Giddy says:

    My sister has her doctorate in English and has created a personal library that is a dream. She lives in Colorado and has a magnificent double height room with custom shelves on 3 walls and a fourth wall that is windows and a gorgeous view. She doesn’t have children, so she says that the money she might have spent on children she spends on books instead. She has first editions and framed illustrated manuscripts among her treasures. And be still my jealous heart, she even has the library ladder that runs on a brass rail. Her chairs and couches are all leather because of her dogs, and of course there is a fireplace. The first time I saw her house I asked her if I could just move into her library. I promised to be no trouble!

  35. Misskitten says:

    I worked in a bookstore from age 17-20, and I love love LOVED it!!!! The only reason I quit was because it wasn’t paying enough and by that point I wasn’t FULLY supporting myself, but I had to cover enough of my own expenses that minimum wage did NOT cut it.
    Back to the bookstore, it was a Crown Books in McLean, Virginia, which for those of you who don’t know was a huge bookstore chain, I don’t think they’re still around, but they were like the Walmart of bookstores. And the coolest perk was ALL the free books employees got!! Especially mass paperbacks. If a book I really wanted was damaged and it was a mass paperback, my manager would let me have it without thinking twice. Hardback or quality paperback we could get 50% off, but if one of the “cool” managers was in, he would ring them up for us at 99 cents each!! Almost all my expensive coffee table art books I got just this way!! As you can imagine, I have quite a library. One day when I finally own a home, I’m going to build bookshelves into the walls just like Drew.
    PS-another cool perk was the surprising number of celebrities/celebrity authors i met working there. McLean is an “important” suburb of DC (Whatever that means 🤮) and so authors doing book-signing tours ALWAYS came to my store. I met Kurt Vonnegut, Mia Farrow (who’s autobiography I had just read and LOVED and so my manager let me go up to her and tell her and I was like “your book read like poetry!” I was such a dork!! But she was super nice and shook my hand and seemed genuinely flattered), Patricia Cornwell, Tom Clancy (who refused to put out his cigar), Cindy Crawford (she had put out a makeup book), Stephen King (the line practically extended across all of McLean) John Grisham (muy guapo!) and plenty more I’m forgetting

  36. Bellah says:

    Drool! I wish we had the space for that. We just have little booknooks tucked away in several spots around the house.
    My FIL surprised me while I was away on a business trip and built really nice bookcases for me on our upstairs landing setback in-between the studs. I keep my collectors editions and my poetry collections up there with a very comfy reading chair.
    Occasionally I will grab a glass of Pinot and my noise canceling head phones and immerse myself in my favorite stories.

    I also take advantage of our local libraries. However, most of my book purchases are now on my Kindle app as I just don’t have the space to house all the books I read.

    I miss the days when I used to spend hours at the bookstore on weekends perusing the shelves.

    • tamsin says:

      I’m also one of those people with book shelves tucked into all sorts of places, including one on my stair landing. When I was a kid, I borrowed books from the little local library a few blocks from our house. As a grown-up, I love to read in bed, so i buy all my books now, feeling squeamish about curling up with a library book that’s been god knows where. I still prefer to hold a book rather than reading from my ipad- save that for holidays. My dream room is a real library with floor to ceiling shelves, big fire place for winter evenings, and cozy armchairs for all year round.

  37. Suz says:

    We have bookshelves in our living room, our bedroom, our office and in our finished basement. I always think of my books as old friends. But my collection doesn’t compare to the one my lovely eldest sister left behind when she died a few years ago. She had books stacked three piles deep in her closet and in her bureau drawers, as well on bookshelves throughout her house. We sold a couple of thousand of them to do something she would have approved of — send a child with disabilities to a special summer camp. It was the only way we could let her precious books go.