Those new (old) service sector jobs: personal book curator

From the unusual products flogged on health and wellbeing site Goop to her one-of-a-kind beauty habits, Gwyneth Paltrow never fails to surprise us. Case in point: she once hired a ‘personal book curator’.

Back in 2001, the former actress decided to redesign her Los Angeles home and realised that to complete the gram-worthy look, she needed a good five to six hundred books to fill the empty shelves.

So what does a Hollywood star do when their personal novel collection doesn’t quite make the necessary requirements? They call in a celebrity-approved book curator of course.

The 46-year-old asked longtime friend, Thatcher Wine, a long-time book collector and the founder of Juniper Books, to complete the task. But with A-list clientele including the likes of Laura Dern and Shonda Rhimes, he was certainly no stranger to the job in hand.

And this is indeed an art:

Over in the dining room, Wine made sure to organise the books in a more minimal fashion in keeping with a “rigid colour palette of black, white, and grey since it was less of a space where one might hang out and read”.

Upon closer inspection, heavyweight coffee table books take price of place with shelves dedicated to artists including Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dali and Leonardo Da Vinci.

Here is the full story, here is the interview with Thatcher Wine.  Via Ted Gioia.


'take price of place with shelves dedicated to artists'

One assumes that was written intentionally, providing more insight than the normal turn of phrase.

Incredibly shallow person trying to appear intelligent.

All she had to do was follow the lists of self-recommending books.

Particularly now that she is a former actress. Though oddly, this was reported in March 2019 - '“I’ve never said that I am quitting acting,” Paltrow told Savannah Guthrie.'

It's not unreasonable for rich people to hire somebody who knows more about books than they do to stock the library for benefit of future house guests, just as a rich non-drinker might have some expert lay in good wines for the wine cellar.

Both would fall under the category of expensive things that rich people can do to be a good host.

On the one hand, I'm not sure I've ever stayed somewhere with a library and actually read anything from it in the short time I was there.

On the other hand, a bookshelf is usually the first thing I gravitate to in a home/room/coffeeshop and, if appropriate, I will grab something interesting to flip through, or read the blurb from.

So I guess the guest is taken into account both in terms of what they would enjoy (e.g. coffee table books) and in terms of what they would see and respect yet not interact with (e.g. classic novels), with the former being good for the guest and the latter being good for the host.

The wine however, one would assume, gets consumed. Those books are just going to sit there.

"Camp of the Saints? Oh that sounds very literary, lets put that one in the front..."

Where do they put the porn?

In the Goop catalog?

The choice of books serves a signal of the kind of person you are. Using a book curator defeats that signal. If books aren't really part of your life, that is a useful signal too.

Signaling and transparency are often at cross purposes.

I agree. If I am asked about some books in my collection, it would be absurd for me to say "ask my curator about them" or "that book is only for impressing my guests. "

That is why you wouldn't say it ecen if it were true. The point is being able to kndluence people's opinion about oneself. Thet is why people wear suits.

If it's in alphabetical order she could see Pynchon right after Proust!

My criteria for having a book in my home - am I dying to read it, or would I read it again? (because great books are always better when re-read).

I can think of no greater torture than to live in a house filled with books I don't personally love. It's enough to have to tolerate the shelf space occupied by the books my wife and I don't agree on!

Surprising. This is the lady that curates her vagina, yes? I would have thought she was up to the task of selecting a few books to lean against a tasteful, polished mesquite bowl of jade eggs. Frida Kahlo and Salvador Dali are not exactly arcane quantities.

Who said there were no jobs for that degree in art history or English literature?

A handful of art history Ph.D.'s wind up living kick-ass lives as big time art dealers, selling to billionaires and celebrities.

If she had just used Tyler's book recommendations on this site,

She wouldn't have had to hire a book curator.

But, what would her guests think?

The wonderful site Five Books offers a book curation service:
I don't know about buying books to complete a decor/color scheme, but if I had the money to hire a well-read expert familiar with my tastes to find new and interesting things to read? I'd do that in a second

She needs a copy of _Books Do Furnish a Room_ by Anthony Powell.

The curator should have filled the bookshelves with medical texts and the works of James Randi and other skeptics. Maybe Paltrow would then learn something through osmosis.

If any one needs a book curator, it's Paltrow. To curate your own books you need to be able to read.

See!" he cried triumphantly. "It's a bona-fide piece of printed matter. It fooled me. This fella's a regular Belasco. It's a triumph. What thoroughness! What realism! Knew when to stop, too – didn't cut the pages. But what do you want? What do you expect?" - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

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