Book-rooms, book-cases and cognitive biases

Some of you may have noticed a bit of a book-room and book-accessory theme on this blog in the last few weeks. Well, it turns out that once you start noticing these things they just keep popping up everywhere. My recent browsing has been filled with fascinating little book-related asides such as:

  • America’s smallest library – The Book Booth is based inside an old-style red British telephone booth in New York’s Hudson Valley and is (probably) the smallest self-contained library out there. An initiative of Clinton Community Library, it won’t be locked at night and can fit two people at a time, provided they don’t mind getting cozy.
  • Like the phone booth idea, but not sure about the red colour? There’s always blue. And if you are going to go with a blue phone-booth you might as well go one step further and make that blue booth a homage to the most iconic one out there – the Tardis. Yes, really. Now don’t you wish you had listened in woodwork?
  • Don’t have phone booth or tardis handy? Smaller again is the personal library kit, ideal for those of you are always lending out books but rarely getting them back. The kit comes complete with self-adhesive pockets and checkout cards to place in your books, and a stamp  to date-brand the checkout card, and apparently comes with the power to “shush” people as you please (well, you are practically a librarian now).
  • If you’re not a lender, but you are someone with surplus of reading materials, this set of shelves could be the reminder you need to get reading what you have before you buy more. Italian furniture design firm Saporiti have created this beautiful bookcase system of modular bookcase letters that allows you to spell custom words and phrases (in this case it says, simply enough READ YOUR BOOK CASE).

It is not that I am obsessed (well, much) that once you start noticing these things, you just can’t stop. It’s like when you take an interest in a subject and suddenly references start popping up to it everywhere.  Apparently it’s called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, an overly clunky way of describing how often once you have come across a new and obscure piece of information or idea, you keep noticing afterwards that you have encounters with same subject again. (I’m hoping that I don’t come across the words Baader-Meinhof again in a hurry – sounds like a sheep with a cough.) It hasn’t it on to the list of common cognitive biases yet and I hope that by the time it does they have named it something less difficult to spell and remember.

If you are looking for excellent books on cognitive biases and the funny ways your mind works, you could try reading Mind Hacks by Tom Stafford for an in-depth analysis, or the eminently easy-to-read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, who is to interesting theories on cognition what Jamie Oliver is to cooking. Or pick up the recently released Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman’s exploration of our various decision making processes, our extraordinary capabilities and the faults and cognitive biases we are prone too.

And, with that, I leave you to your regular non-fiction programming with a promise that I will endevour not to fill yet more posts with bookshelves. Well, for a few weeks at least.


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Sadhbh Warren

Sadhbh Warren is a freelance writer and proud booklover. Her name is pronounced Sive - like five – an Irish name, easier to say than spell! She lives in Sydney, writing travel and humour articles, and is always on the lookout for a great new book.