Non-Books on our Bookshelves

With the rise of the e-book we have come up against the idea that, some horrible day in the future, bookshelves will become either obsolete or purely decorative, filled with items other than books. But, to be honest, my bookshelves have always been half-function/half-decoration and, as such, have always contained non-book objects. Some of my favourite of these at the moment are:

Cricket Balls

(born in the US, I’m only now beginning to understand why the Ashes is a big deal)


A Red Papier Mâché and Wood Cow


& this Vintage-style Artwork of two Flappers Boxing

(by Wellington-area artist Rache McMullen)


I have good reason to believe that I’m not the only book-lover who enjoys displaying the odd non-book item in this way. While browsing the new Bookshelfies Tumblr and the Flickr stream from Booksellers NZ’s 2010 competition “New Zealand’s Next Top Bookshelf” I found examples of the following living among contributors’ books:


evangelion dollowl figurineskull

Decorative Apparel

sunglassesviking hat

And One Young Fellow Even Had a Few of These on Display

cricket ball

Looking at books through the lens of décor has become increasingly popular, but I think most readers love books both as physical objects and as receptacles of story and knowledge. In many cases, I would argue, the non-book items on our bookshelves hold a similar magic, selected for display because they are imbued with memory or represent some part of our personalities, rather than just because they look good among a row of paper spines. Maybe I’m wrong. But I don’t think I am.

Liz Gillett


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