A good room is never without a good book

Written by Vita O’Brien

A well-curated bookcase or the artful arrangement of a bedside table stack can bring as much joy as a beautifully crafted piece of furniture and, in this day and age, you could spend hours drooling over cover designs online. But what happens when we look inside the pages for our design inspiration?

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

If you haven’t yet read Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own — (A) the general thesis is that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction” and (B) go read it if that makes you curious because I’m not about to try to give you a detailed analysis right now. What made me choose this book for this list is that there’s something really interesting about what each of our ‘rooms’ might look like.

“There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”

So, here’s your homework: figure out your room. For some it may be a shared room or a living room or a spare bedroom-turned-office or a bedroom or, more, abstractly it could be a place you go in your mind when you create. Maybe what’s important to you is where the room is; how big or small it is; and how it makes you feel. Think about what items you would put in your room and how you can either create it irl or hold it in your mind as a kind of creative talisman.

Paradise Lost by John Milton

Not trying to pull your leg right now, but these epic poems are honestly a good time. I’ve only read parts of Paradise Lost for a paper during my degree but I fully intend on finishing it one day. You can let this one inspire you however you wish it to. For some, this era of the English language and the writing style that accompanies it might inspire a certain type of look or sophistication, while for others it will be the religious imagery, and others still will be wowed by book VIII and its depiction of the vastness of our universe.

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”

The depth of the epic poem lends itself to an expansive playground from which you can pull from, and Paradise Lost is definitely not the only example of this so, if it doesn’t strike your fancy, then have a browse through your library’s catalogue and see if there’s something out there that does. Sometimes books that fall into the canon of English Literature can feel like they’re reserved for academics only, but books are there for anyone who wants to read them and can be a source of inspiration for whatever you want to make — you’ve literally just got to pick one up and start (as corny as that sounds).

Bluets by Maggie Nelson

In Nelson’s lyrical essay, she shares with us 240 thoughts inspired by the colour blue. Bluets is the kind of book that you can read in one sitting — gulping at it like a tall glass of water, or it can become a slim companion to daily life — floating around in your tote bag and opened at random when you need to read something good. Beyond being an absolute joy to read, Bluets proves to us that something simple and commonplace can be the source of incredible inspiration.

“212. If I were on my deathbed, I would name my love of the colour blue and making love with you as two of the sweetest sensations I knew on this earth.”

This essay can inspire us very literally, for example go try to design something blue, or even something with just one colour, but I think it can also inspire us to turn the little funny things we’re obsessed with, into art. We all collect things, consciously or not and physically or not, the question is what can you do with it now? Here’s a suggestion inspired by Nelson: find the thing you love, and now make us love it too.

virginia woolf

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