Oh God, I hope not.
[B]ooks aren’t just for reading, they can also be beautiful objects in and of themselves. Thatcher Wine, a long-time bibliophile and collector, tapped into this concept in 2001, sourcing rare, out-of-print books to build beautiful libraries based on interest, author, and even color for his clients. Since then, Wine has curated the bookshelves of Gwyneth Paltrow and New York’s NoMad hotel; fans include Laura Dern and Shonda Rhimes.
One way I identify a stone-cold phony is when their living room includes a chess board on which the pieces are set up incorrectly or the white corner squares are on the left, not the right. This means that the resident doesn’t know how to play chess, but wants people to think he or she does. In my view, such a visual lie is like hanging a diploma of a school you didn’t attend, or a military decoration that isn’t yours. (I give a pass to people who have grand pianos or harps in the homes; they are beautiful, and if the owner doesn’t mind looking foolish when he or she has to answer the question, “Do you play?” with “No,” that also is useful information.)
Hiring someone to put books in your library because they look nice is exactly like the misleading chessboard. I now know all I need to know about Gwyneth Paltrow, Laura Dern and Shonda Rhimes.
Town and Country interviewed “Thatcher Wine,” and it that’s his real name I’ll eat my rooks, and he said,
“My philosophy is that the books we keep on our shelves reflect who we are. But the thing about books is that you can only really read one book at a time—yes you can be reading five books, but not literally all at once. So home libraries, especially those that contain a few dozen, hundred, or even thousands of books, are not about constant use of reading. They are a reflection of where you’ve been and where you want to go.”
He’ll get no argument from me, but then what is the point of a “book curator”? Presumably if book collections are supposed to say “who we are,” then we are the ones who must decide what’s on our shelves, not a stranger engaged to make visitors thinks we are someone smarter, more erudite, more cultured and more eclectic than we are.