Amanda Cockrell

Selected Works

Young Adult Novel
Saints and soldiers and the Untied Church of Dog
Novels
The Hollywood blacklist and a delayed funeral
Historical novel of a Roman legion in Britain
The Horse Catchers trilogy
Mythological novel of the coming of the horse to the American Southwest
Volume 2 in The Horse Catchers trilogy
Volume 3 in The Horse Catchers trilogy
The Deer Dancers trilogy
Mythological novel of the beginning of art
Volume 2 in The Deer Dancers trilogy
Volume 3 in The Deer Dancers trilogy
Children's books
By my mother, Marian Cockrell, the story of an enchanted castle on the edge of Fairyland

What We Keep

Books as decoration

August 19, 2013

Tags: children's books

Everyone has their guilty pleasure. Well, if you don’t, you should have. Mine is interior decorating magazines, particularly of the “what you can make with that thing you found at the flea market” variety. It’s cheaper than shoes and it keeps me off the streets, although my husband runs the risk of another fine idea about converting the kitchen window seat to a storage cupboard. Lately though, being a bookish type person, I feel the need to express Deep Disapproval over the idea of using books as decoration. Choosing and shelving them by their jacket color, for instance. Or shelving them with the spines facing in so “the marvelous texture of the pages can show.” Shelving books spine inward or by color makes a statement that is probably not the statement the designer is aiming for. This statement says, “You are an idiot who does not read books. Otherwise you would shelve them so you could find what you are looking for.”

I’m not against using books that are not particularly rare or valuable to make art with. My toaster lizard (see photo) sits on two Reader’s Digest volumes and a book by Dan Quayle. But my other gripe with books as decoration, as long as I am on my soapbox, is taking apart old children’s books that are in perfectly good shape. As someone who makes her living with children’s books, the fact that someone would rather decorate a lampshade with pages from Alice in Wonderland than read it makes me suspect that person was deprived of suitable reading in her own youth and this is the tragic result. Her children will grow up obsessed with sticking clichés on their walls with craft shop lettering instead of what they ought to be obsessed with, which is when is the next book in Ian MacDonald’s Planesrunner series coming out?

Stacking tchochkes on books to make “tablescapes” falls in the same general category. Yes, you can get at the book if you actually want to read it, but you can’t get at your bedside table because it is artfully draped with a scrap of old lace, two spineless molting books with marvelous texture, the spigot from an outdoor faucet, and a rusty baking soda can from 1935.

And now I have to go read Romantic Homes, which just arrived today, so I can disapprove of something else and find that piece on pressing flowers. I have some Queen Anne’s Lace and the OED all ready.

Comments

  1. August 19, 2013 9:17 PM EDT
    THANK YOU for this, Amanda! It's exactly how I feel and I always want to say it when book lovers post photos of books as stair steps or chairs and real books torn up for crafts. It seems so painful to me, even when I know a library has used old discarded books in a big mobile. My exception: I do love some of the really artistic intricate sculptures made out of very old copies of classic books.
    - Tina H.
  2. August 23, 2013 8:37 PM EDT
    I have lots of tablescapes--if you count books piled on every flat surface not otherwise engaged. Including the floor. Going to do something about that one of these days. (Ha!)
    - Delia






























Chocolate novios for Day of the Dead


Noon Whistle at the Lizard Works

Back yard bottle tree



The last hurrah


Delia Sherman and Ruth Sanderson, summer Children's Lit faculty

Children's Lit faculty Brian Attebery and Ellen Kushner at the end-of-term party