Books do furnish a room, but not at Pottery Barn in University Town Center. Even the writing desk is piled high with leather travel cases instead of readables. The only exception — the John Derian Picture Book, named one of the best gift books of the year by numerous outlets, including Garden & Gun magazine — placed beneath a potted plant on a bureau.
But everyone knows that kids should read, so there are books aplenty at Pottery Barn Kids, including seasonal fare and a Moby Dick board book(!) But maybe since girls read more than boys, they leave the books out of the girls’ bedroom display, while the boys’ side gets Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site and My First Superman Book. For more girly fare, head to Fiveloaves Twofish for Usborne book versions of classic fairy tales such as Cinderella, Snow White, and Little Red Riding Hood.
There’s nary a tome to be found in the Gap, but if you take just one step up the Gap Inc. style scale to Banana Republic, you become a proper fashionista. Books get their own easels above the garments and include The Fashion Book, Vanity Fair: 100 Years, Vogue: The Covers, Harper’s Bazaar: 150 Years: The Greatest Moments, and Avedon. Gap’s athletic store, Athleta, displays just two titles: Unplug: A Simple Guide to Meditation for Busy Skeptics and Modern Soul Seekers and Shining Bright: Quotes and Images to Inspire Optimism, Gratitude & Belief in Your Limitless Potential — because active people don’t have much time to read. (Less active people, on the other hand, may simply lack the inclination, which may explain the presence of just one book, Beach Cocktails, at Tommy Bahama.)
J. Crew wants to affirm your sense of yourself as art aficionado. Robert Longo’s Men in the Cities gets table space; other stuff is stacked or displayed up high: Elizabeth Peyton: Portrait of an Artist, William Eggleston’s Guide to the Museum of Modern Art New York, Picasso: Guitars 1912–1914, Gerhard Richter: Red Yellow Blue, Abstract America, et al.
Restoration Hardware opts for a mix of straightforward and cheek. There’s decor theory on end tables: Monochrome Home, The Curated House, A Life Less Ordinary: Interiors and Inspirations. But there are also a great many blank white bindings in the cabinets, a few of which are stamped with titles that are actually categories: Master Photographers, Designer Influences, Private, Modern Architecture, Polaroid’s 1958–1987. Cute.
Anthropologie sells aspiration: Martha Stewart’s Newlywed Kitchen, 52 Lists to Happiness, 111 Places in New York That You Must Not Miss. Papyrus sells whimsy: Pocket Coco Chanel Wisdom, Farts Around the World, Sh—ty Mom for All Seasons. Johnny Was sells an exotic dream: Surfer’s Blood, The Wild Horses of Sable Island, Havana Modern. But it’s Room & Board — and to a lesser extent, Arhaus — that really sells the booky lifestyle: piling them, shelving them, color-coding them, tucking them into this nook and that cranny, flaunting all sorts of volumes, and affirming the fine old notion that having a home means having a place to put your books.