Tiny Bookshelves, Big Plans

I have a penchant for wandering through crafts stores with big ideas but little time, skill, or money to execute them. I don’t sew and possess little artistic aptitude beyond the scope of adult coloring books*. So for me, a trip to Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, or JoAnne’s is mostly exploratory. My imagination takes off and gets lost within the possibilities of paper crafting, jewelry making, and seasonal decorating.

Delightful Discovery Part 1

On a trip in late summer (I did actually need something from the cake supplies), I perused the clearance section. (For me, the word clearance has more gravitational pull than my own body mass.) I spotted an adorable miniature bookshelf. I was thrilled. The kind of thrilled that zaps you all the way to your toes.

I picked it up, and on closer inspection discovered it was intended for a dollhouse. I’d always wanted a dollhouse as a child, and this little treasure invoked such a pleasant nostalgia. For a moment I nearly forgot global pandemics, social injustice, political turmoil, environmental disasters, and broken relationships. Almost. It was so perfect, not to mention stupid cheap–that it had to come home with me. Naturally. Obviously. There could be no other way.

So it did.

As captivated as I was with it at the moment of purchase, once home I stowed it away in a safe space where my beagle couldn’t eat it. Then I promptly forgot about it. I mean, I knew it was wonderful and that I’d find a use for it. I just wasn’t sure what or when.

Holiday Architectural Adventures

In my previous post, Death to Christmas Cookies, I wrote about how I decided to skip holiday baking. It was good for me and served my mood well. I did, however, end up making gingerbread houses with my husband.

I’ve done the graham cracker-icing construction model so many times with so many people over the years that I just assumed my husband was one of them. When I realized we’d never crossed this pivotal relationship milestone together, there was nothing to be done except schedule a stay-in date night. (Full disclosure: 95% of our date nights are stay-in. #IntrovertLife)

With Christmas music in the background, a generic holiday candle burning, and adult beverages within easy reach, we assembled our not-so-edible masterpieces. My hubby used salty snacks and Elmer’s glue to fashion his house. I played it safe with candy shingles and frosting mortar.

My husband kept his salty, and I went full on sugar. Yes, that is macaroni and cheese. No, we do not have rodents.

We decided our houses needed occupants, and for the finishing touches we added toys. While the hubster was positioning his Lego mini-figures, I went in search of my Mama Berenstain Bear and my Grumpy Smurf. And wouldn’t you know it, a true Christmas miracle happened! I stumbled across my forgotten miniature bookshelf.

Delightful DiscoverY Part 2

I tore open the package and to my surprise and delight, the books tumbled out. When I purchased it, I assumed the books were a single block, that had been painted to look like different spines. Not so, friends. Not so.

I turned each book over, examining the titles, patterns, and colors. Half of them were spelled incorrectly and I found this hilarious. A couple of the covers were glued on backwards and upside down. I thought that was charming as well. But I only recognized a couple of the books–The Bible, Lord Byron’s Poems, The Adventures of Jules Verne (even that isn’t the correct title). So I decided to ask the internet gods if the other books did, in fact, exist. The short answer: Yes.

From what I could surmise, all of these volumes were either written around or were easily available during the late 20th century. As with Journey to the Center of the Earth, there was some discrepancy between the printed titles on the book and those I found online. But I’m fairly certain they were real books. (I’ve linked these images to where I found them.)

After I had given each book the proper attention it was due, I very carefully brought them to our gingerbread workspace. They’d found their purpose, this adorable collection of tiny books–I would use them as a Free Little Library on my house’s property.

I loved it. I thought (and still think) it was a brilliant use for them. If I’d remembered them ahead of time, their placement would have been more prominent. But even in the corner where I forced a fit with Mama Bear, they added dimension to my diorama.

Now I have the bug. I believe all future gingerbread houses will have to incorporate some bookish element. I might make them a library or book store. Perhaps it will be a famous literary location. This could be the start of a new tradition. But like the cookies, I’ll only do it if it continues to nourish my soul and bring me joy. The moment that gingerbread house becomes a little shop of mental health horrors, I’m out–tiny bookshelves and all.

There are so many things to chat about with this post. Did you have a dollhouse as a child. Do you have a crafting addiction? What two interests of yours overlap to create projects, art, or just good old fun? Have you won a spelling bee? The floor is open folks, let’s talk!


Oh! While writing this, my puppy did get a hold of one of the books–ironically, it was Aunt Fanny’s Cookbook. I kinda hope he gets some indigestion.

* I started coloring during my first inpatient hospitalization, waaaay before it became mainstream in 2015-2016. I find it helpful as a meditative practice and therapeutic when my anxiety is soaring. You can find them at most big box retailers and there are an abundance of them online. Three of my favorites are of course, literary themed.

3 comments

  • Damn it, Oscar!

    BTW…we have a ton of adult coloring books, markers, colored pencils and crayons that I bought for my Mom several years ago. They’ve never been used. You’re quite welcome to them if you’d like to have them.

    • Sure! I’d be happy to take them off your hands. I have a number of friends who also color, so I can find a good home for all them them. 🙂

      • Cool. I’ll get them all together and either deliver them or give them to you here the next time we get together.

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