Sunday, September 21, 2014

Painting my books

'How to Read a Book' (watercolour on paper) - Jodi Wiley

I want to downsize my book collection. Or maybe should I say, I wish I wanted to.

It feels like everyone is decluttering. Loading eReaders with virtual books and pulling the real ones off bookshelves. And let me just say, I completely understand. I have an eReader. It makes sense to buy those one-off reads as digital files. I'm happy to step into the future on this one.

But the books I already have. Well, I'm sorry, but I can't part with them. I've had sessions of decluttering in the past. Successful sessions even! But there are some books I can't let go. Either because of the memory of how I acquired them, the meaning the book has for me, the time in my life that I read it, or the fact that I love the cover. (Yep, judging the books...)

So what to do with the unread books I will probably never read? All those books I've read that I won't ever re-read? And what about the reference books which have been superseded by internet databases (seriously, who has opened a dictionary recently?).

Well, looking at my bookshelf and thinking about the relationship I've had to books and reading in my life, the answer became clear. Make art.

For the next few months I'm going to post a little painting once a week of a selection of books from my bookshelf with a story or a little something about what they mean to me. It's a personal project I've wanted to do for a while; something I have to get out of my system.

I love the physical object of the book and I love a full bookshelf. It makes a room feel warmer. It makes a house a home. So while I'm happy to step into the brave new world of digital reading, I will probably always have one foot in the past.

If you love books, the ones you own and the ones you have read, they become part of your life, part of your story. I love that.

This little selection I've painted above is the ultimate in book-nerdiness. Books on books. Books on reading. Special mention goes to My Ideal Bookshelf which I love. It's full of interviews with writers, artists and cultural figures about books that mean something to them with very cool illustrations of book spines by Jane Mount.

That book on the top of the stack, 'How to Read a Book'. I just love it for its cover and especially its title. I still haven't read it though ;)