book artThanks to Jason Boog at GalleyCat for introducing me to the work of Jane Mount, an author and artist who, as a follow-up to her book “My Ideal Bookshelf” is now selling paintings and prints inspired by the book’s bookshelf concept, which people can customize with the favorite books of their choosing.

The cheaper print option gives you a pre-selected list of books for which Mount presumably has artwork already; or you can pay more and customize a hand-painted version with any book you choose.

book artMy first reaction to this story was “OMG, I want!” I may choose to consume most of my books these days electronically, but there is something quite lovely to me about giving beloved favorites a treatment such as this. In fact, the first piece of “art” I ever bought and paid for myself was a lovely set of shadowbox frames I paid an art student to make for me to house three A.A. Milne books that I inherited from my grandmother.

I know that e-book fans like me often tease the fetishist types for their “I love the smell of paper” rants. But sometimes, there really is a special circumstance. Not for all books, mind you—I don’t think committing words to paper is inherently magical. But owning these books in particular was, for me, not about reading them again (although the shadowboxes do have hinged lids which theoretically allow the books to be removed and read). It was about having a memento of a beloved person that I could display and look upon with joy.

I didn’t want to stick them on a bookshelf where I’d never see them, and I didn’t want a DIY solution. It was worth it to me to pay and have this done properly.

At the time, the $300 and change it cost for the three boxes was a fortune to me, but I have no regrets. I pass by those books every day and always smile when I think about my grandmother.

book artMore recently, the Beloved gifted me with a surprise—we have slowly been replacing some of the hand-me-down stuff with our own things as funds and circumstances permit, and while he is not a huge “framed art” person, he does enjoy it when it’s done nicely. His friend Steve Czajka of GIMP magazine does calligraphy prints, so he got me a lovely framed piece with a verse from “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe, which is a favorite of mine.

It’s a beautiful piece of art in and of itself, but it’s all the more lovely when I think about my decidedly non-artsy guy spending his hard-earned money on poetry—for me.

Do you think book-inspired art is beautiful? Or am I just replacing the paper book with a different fetishized object?


  1. I can suggest a half dozen “fetish” adventures in book transmission that each include festinating streams of book reading and creativity. In addition to book arts there are enclaves of obsession in academic book studies of book history, in the exciting new world of book production, in the cognitive sciences of reading, in the library sciences of reading communities, and in the elaborate world of literary criticism. I also add a seventh adventure. This is compilation and combined interpretation of all six sectors of book transmission investigation.

    A huge diorama of published books across these enclaves of study really enriches appreciation and enjoyment of screen books as well as appreciation of all the other delivery formats. The adventure of books to be continues.

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