A Feast of Books

Last week I blogged about my desire find a house with a library (preferably one behind a hidden door), where I could pander to my love of reading and store my ever-expanding collection of books.

I’ll cheerfully admit that my reach definitely exceeds my grasp on this one. House with libraries tend to come with wings and servants and other items that I can’t really afford, no matter how much I want them. I have lavishly-illustrated coffee-table book tastes on a mass-market paperback budget, sadly, so I need to look at other options for indulging booklovers’ desires.

Instead of insisting on a full library, you could always just get really creative with where I put my bookshelves or invest in some bookshelves that double as decoration, as some places have done.

Or you could pick up a spectacular piece of book art, such as Brian Dettmer‘s intricate and amazing creations, made from out-of date encyclopedias, medical journals, illustration books and dictionaries. He uses knives, tweezers and surgical tools to cut, carve and shape these old books into three-dimensional works of art. Nothing inside is relocated or implanted as he manipulates the books to forms sculptures that reveal and revel in the books’ contents and their breath-taking complexity of illustration. His work isn’t cheap but if you did find between $3,800 to $32,000USD down the back of the sofa, you could be the proud owner of one of these pieces.

If you want to go the whole hog*, but don’t want to spend a king’s ransom**, you could always indulge your love of books with a culinary adventure, such as Gastro Park’s Game Of Thrones’ feast. Inspired by the TV adaptation of George R R Martin’s infamously bloody series, this fantasy-fueled banquet will set you back a pricey but affordable $100.

Much like the books, the meal is not for those scared of a bit of gore. The feast opens with bloody strips of raw venison, pinned by arrows and garnished with eyeballs and dirt. That grisly appetizer is followed by charred raven’s feet in broth, then a huge portion of crispy suckling pig (complete with a large knife for back-stabbing), and then the dessert; a glistening dragon’s egg, served on a bed of snow and sand and topped with a generous pouring of pure liquid gold.

It’s a feast fit for a king (or, in the case of the liquid gold, for someone who believes they are one). And considerably more delicious than it sounds; the eyeballs in dirt are liquid mozzarella served on tapenade, for example, and the raven’s feet are piquillo peppers in a black squid-ink batter. The spectacular dessert is a work of delicious fiction; some smashing reveals the “dragon’s egg” to be a spray-painted chocolate shell encasing a liquid passionfruit and vanilla centre. And the liquid gold, deployed to such a devastating effect in the books, is a far more feast-friendly orange curd.

The meal is a marketing ploy for the Game of Thrones‘ TV show Australian DVD release. Chef Grant King is less that a bibliophile himself – he had never heard of the books or the show but quickly discovered it to be to his taste: “Anything about chopping dudes up, I’m into that.”

As for this bibliophile? I’m still looking. I have found one ideal home; a lovely and spacious house where one room has walls completely covered in bookshelves. It was love at first sight.  I’m just hoping that love will get the hint and send the several hundred thousand through extra to me I need to purchase this place. If anyone wants me, I’ll be looking down the back of the sofa.


*The whole hog is, of course, the suckling pig.

**Okay, there’s just no excuse for this much pun.


Down the Rabbit Hole (into the bookcase)

My partner and I are house-hunting for a bigger place and I figure this is the perfect chance to select places that contain space for the ultimate home indulgence. Not a spa bath or sunroom or walk-in wardrobe (although they would be nice) – I’m gunning for a library.

I’ve had a yen for a bookroom since I stayed in a home where the entire bathroom had been converted into a reading room, with books, glorious books, stretching from floor to ceiling on two of the walls. Going to the bathroom in that house tended to take about ten times as long as it needed to.

Seeing that numerous celebrities had indulged their bibliophile tendencies by creating their own libraries also didn’t help me squash my urges. But what really set it off was this picture, shared on Facebook and G+ and probably lots of other social networks that I am not cool enough to know about yet. This is not merely a book room, this is a book-room with a bookcase that opens to lead to another room, apparently also full of books and bookcases. It’s some sort of Batcave for an avidly reading reclusive superhero. A Bookcave.

It. Must. Be. Mine.

Sadly, I have no idea how to get it. I can’t find out the original source of the picture (although I have seen it claimed variously to be in NZ, the USA and built by a company in Ireland, so someone is telling porkie-pies).  Someone clearly designed and built this thing. I thought of finding a woodworking builder and then leaving them to it, but even they don’t always know what to do as this post on Woodweb shows. A little searching did find websites for a company that offer to install secret passages and hidden rooms in your own home, thrilling my inner 9-year-old who is still obsessed with Enid-Blyton. They seem more preoccupied with security than book-hoarding, possibly as if you afford their services you may need somewhere to store your loot.

We don’t have a few hundred thousand spare floating around the place but there are also websites that tell you how to build your own “hidden door” bookshelf. This is an absolutely fool-proof plan apart from the fact that I have two left thumbs when it comes to DIY and find even the simplest of IKEA instructions as challenging as reading Twilight without throwing up.

Reading this didn't help.

Also, it has been pointed out we don’t actually have a new house yet. Details, details.

Sadly, with the budget we do have it looks unlikely that I’ll be getting my Bookcave, or even spare wing to house my large library. But I have at least secured a promise that, whatever size home we end up in, we’ll make space for at least one more bookshelf.

Maybe even two or three if we can. Or four. Four is a nice number. We can find the space. I mean, really, who needs a second bathroom anyway? Guests? Well, if we just fill the spare room full of books they won’t be able to stay with us. Which will neatly solve the second bathroom issue too.