Every shelf is different and every bookshelf tells a different story. One bookshelf can creak with character in a bohemian coffee shop and another can groan with gravitas in the Library of Congress. Writer and historian Lydia Pyne finds bookshelves to be holders not just of books but of so many other things: values, vibes, and verbs that can be contained and displayed in the buildings and rooms of contemporary human existence. With a shrewd eye toward this particular moment in the history of books, Pyne takes the reader on a tour of the bookshelf that leads critically to this juncture: amid rumors of the death of book culture, why is the life of the bookshelf in full bloom?

Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in the The Atlantic. Published 28 January 2016.

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