Monday, December 3, 2012

Mount and LaForce's "My Ideal Bookshelf" project

Patti Smith
Art and the theme of books as windows to the soul intersect in artist Jane Mount and Paris Review writer Thessaly La Force's My Ideal Bookshelf project. The concept has obviously struck a chord, because it's getting massive play in the media, with features on it (many as a holiday pick) in the NY Times, Vogue, The Guardian, and NPR's Weekend Today and Morning Edition. The pair asked more than 100 creative types (writers, artists, designers, critics, filmmakers, chefs, architects) to come up with a grouping of their most favorite, essential, timeless books and then Mount painted them. From the Introduction:
So much depends on where you, the reader, are – physically and metaphorically – when you decide to pick up a book and give it a chance. Which explains why there's no such thing as one ideal bookshelf; there is no ur-bookshelf. It would be a mistake to try to read this book with that goal in mind. In the end, the one element that links all the ideal bookshelves in these pages is the never-ending search. We're all still hunting, still hoping to discover one more book that we'll love and treasure for the rest of our lives.
It's fun (and a tad voyeuristic) to see the crossovers of books we love with people we admire. Below are a few more samples. (Here's the full list of contributors.)
David Sedaris
James Franco
I guess it's akin to "desert island books," but what would your Ideal Bookshelf consist of?
Mount also does commissions and themed bookshelves, such as this "Ideal Kids' Bookshelf":


  1. I like the bookshelf Patti Smith put together, short and sweet, but important books for sure. I think what like most about "My Ideal Bookshelf" is the ton of ideas for good reads that influenced a bunch of influential people.

  2. My ideal bookshelf would have infinite space for all the books I've yet to acquire!

  3. In comparison to the books of these I own, I can't believe how accurate Mount's detailing is. She really put time into getting every little bit of the cover exactly right for each book. Now I really have to pick this one up!

  4. In other words, when the Life photographer (0r his equivalent) says, "Now I'd like to take one of you standing next to your bookshelf"...which books will you keep within the lens's focus in the frantic rearrangement that follows?
    And, more amusing, which books will you drop behind the dictionary?

    1. So true. My ideal bookshelf would have some classics and 'literary' picks, sure, but also some romance novels and children's/young adult books that I wouldn't necessarily broadcast to the world...