“Books and magazines,” a friend of mine recently said about his parental home, “were our decor.”
And I imagine a quiet space, with dust speckling the sunbeams from a harsh African sun filtering into the cool of a mid-century home. There’s polished slasto on the front porch, a ball-and-claw diningroom table you can lie under and read without being disturbed, and a melamine kitchen table, where great wodges of white government bread are eaten with butter and tomato sauce after school, one hand feeding, the other holding up an open book.
I have no idea whether that’s what it was like for him, but that’s the picture I got.
Books make spaces beautiful. So a space made beautiful for books is a step in the direction of transcendence. Love Books in Melville Joburg is so entrancingly pretty, so clearly loved, that you want to sink into one of its cushy old chairs, tuck your feet under your butt, and settle in more or less for life.
It’s a smallish space. Two interleading rooms, on two different levels, are connected visually by both the books, and the quirky, unexpected shelving and furnishings. You’re drawn from the narrow end to the wider space, or vice versa, as though discovering secret places. It’s one of those shops where even if you’re not actually making little gasping sounds on the outside, you’re doing them on the inside.
The shelves are a hodge-podge. On some walls, invisible structures make it look like books are slotting out of the brickwork. In other places, nests of tables have been stacked and fixed on top of one another to form odd-ball towers that house books that don’t seem to fit into definite categories. Old ball-and-claw tables have been painted shocking yellow or candyfloss pink. Scrapheap shelves have been painted and glossed and stacked; eccentric tidbits hang from the ceilings and walls, old chairs have newly tapestried cushions. There are books on seats and ocassional tables, in loopy odd-angled shelves, on tables. Sometimes they’re even in staid straight-up-and-down shelves. Weirdly, it’s all fluid and harmonious, in spite of how it sounds.
Most inspired and original, though, are that the sections are announced in crossstitch, hung inside the embroidery circles they were stiched in by Anna Sacke, who works there.
Books make me breath a little harder. Warm, loved interiors give me mini nostalgia meltdowns, and textured spaces make me weak with something I can’t really name – longing, a happy melancholia, hope..?
I don’t just love Love Books. I want it. I want to gobble it down, or throw my arms around it. I want to find a threadbare old Eiderdown (remember those?) and curl up under the big old table in the front of the shop with a torch and a Nancy Drew book. And eat marshmallows straight out of the bag.