The Beauty of Friendship and Books

Over the last two years, I’ve had the opportunity to work in some archives in Salt Lake City on a women’s history project. This internship has resulted in some interesting research projects for me on women, technical communication, and communication design. My formal assignment is to do research for a team of women working on a book of women’s discourses from 1820 to present.  I work on the first half of the book, which covers 1820 to 1920.

I consider the most valuable aspect of this opportunity to be the friendships and associations I have developed through my time there.  I get to rub shoulders with highly educated women who have encouraged and guided me on learning historical research. While my time there is occasionally overwhelming because of everything else I am doing right now, I think of it as a precious way to gain an education in history and research. And I enjoy being there.

The women I associate with have broader associations with women historians outside of the archives where we work.  They have a formal organization and put on seminars, conferences, and lunch groups. My favorite part of this networking and socialization is our “conversation group.” Once every two months, we gather in someone’s home, where a member of the group presents her research or insights on the history of women through the religious lens of the archives. I’ve met many wonderful people by being a part of this group, and I’ve even had the opportunity to present what I’ve learned in researching for the book on women’s discourses. This is a group of supportive, caring, intelligent, and encouraging women. I benefit in many ways by associating with them.

Last week, we met at a home with the most interesting decor. It was a mishmash of historical artifacts: pictures, books, statues, tables, plaques, instruments, and collectibles. The owners of this home had all of these interesting items displayed throughout the living room. My eye was drawn to their bookshelves.


And upon closer inspection, I noticed some of my most beloved books on their shelves.  They had a healthy collection of Wallace Stegner novels. Stegner is one of my favorite authors. He’s a master of American literature.


These bookshelves epitomize beauty. I could not resist taking a picture. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Maybe you’ll see some titles you recognize.

19 thoughts on “The Beauty of Friendship and Books

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  1. I love this too! Stunning! I used to hide out in the library as a kid because I truly love being surrounded by books! I now have my own wall in my room but nothing as gorgeous as this! What a great opportunity! Love the photos! 🙂

    1. Definitely gorgeous! You reminded me of a time when I first visited a large library in a major city and I got lost in the stacks and felt so cozy and happy surrounded by books.

  2. I adore bookshelves, and I love these pictures. Bookshelves calm me. I have no idea why staring at hundreds of book spines would comfort me, but it does. Perhaps bookshelves are my aquarium. They lower my blood pressure.
    Good luck with your continued research!

  3. A home with bookshelves brimming with significant books says so much about its occupants. We live (very modestly retired) in California’s Silicon Valley where money and success are prevalent. My wife and I have toured many newly-constructed mini-mansions, here, in support of charitable foundations which offer such house tours.

    Of the many overwhelming homes we have seen through the years, most all had rows of finely crafted bookshelves. I can recall only one home which had a true library stocked with fine, important books; the vast majority had meager offerings of books on wine, fine cuisine, and golf courses of the world. That says something to me.

  4. Ahhhh, glorious bookshelves. I love peering at other peoples’ bookshelves. I think bookshelves can say a lot about a person. You’re lucky to have a community of women who read and discuss.

  5. Emily, what an inviting place. It makes me want to pick one off the shelf and find a cozy chair with some hot tea to drink. Conversing about books makes them live as someone usually has a different lens than yours. Thanks, BTG

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