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When my father got a Kindle, he was awestruck by its instant gratification: “The books come out of the air!”
And now, I have a similar cry of joy: “The books hover in the air!”
I’m not talking about a Kindle, which is still too steep for me to consider. No, I’m referring to the amazing Umbra conceal bookshelf. (Which, at less than $10 from The Container Store, is a whole lot cheaper than any e-reader.)
Magically, a stack of books sits upon the wall, seemingly suspended sans anchor. An artful arrangement, as minimal as minimalism gets, the Umbra conceal bookshelf creates a floating home for a flotilla of tomes.
How it works: the L-shaped bracket screws into the wall. Place the last page of a book on top of the shelf and slide it to the wall. Below the shelf, two tiny hooks hold the back cover up—ingenious! You can then stack 6-8 books on the first, concealing the bracket on the wall to create the levitation illusion.
However, there are a few caveats. With the large shelf, the books should be no deeper than 10”, and the total weight of the books shouldn’t exceed 20 lbs. or they will sag. (Grab a stack of books and weigh it on your bathroom scale. I had what I thought was a heavy bunch, but it was only 13 lbs. No sweat for the Umbra.)
Next, the arrangement of books can be a little tricky. I bought two shelves for cookbooks. I have about 40, and it took some shuffling to create perfect pyramids of progressively smaller books. Some books were smaller in length, but not in width—and vice-versa. If you have a large collection of books, however, finding a pleasing aerial aesthetic shouldn’t be an issue. You can even display small objets d’art atop the books, as I did with a Japanese cast-iron teapot.
Finally, you need to install the shelf into a stud and use a hardcover for the bottom book. But paperbacks work well mid-stack, as you’ll see I put the meatless Moosewood between Jim Dodge and the Barefoot Contessa.
Books are works of art, and never before have they been so suitably displayed. I can’t imagine the Kindle being hung on the wall for artistic appreciation. But go ahead, get your e-reader. I’ll just keep buying more books…and more Umbra bookshelves.