Gwyneth Paltrow Hired a Personal Book Curator—Here’s What He Chose For Her Shelves


After everyone tired of reading on their Kindles, there was a delightful, if unexpected, realization. Book lovers remembered that books aren’t just for reading, they can also be beautiful objects in and of themselves.

Thatcher Wine, a long-time bibliophile and collector, tapped into this concept in 2001, sourcing rare, out-of-print books to build beautiful libraries based on interest, author, and even color for his clients. Since then, Wine has curated the bookshelves of Gwyneth Paltrow and New York’s NoMad hotel; fans include Laura Dern and Shonda Rhimes.

T&C chatted with Wine about his first book, For the Love of Bookswhich outlines how to create the perfect library in any setting and how to completely re-think your shelves at home.

Most people believe that their bookshelves should only reflect books they have read, but you see it differently. Could you explain?

My philosophy is that the books we keep on our shelves reflect who we are. But the thing about books is that you can only really read one book at a time—yes you can be reading five books, but not literally all at once. So home libraries, especially those that contain a few dozen, hundred, or even thousands of books, are not about constant use of reading. They are a reflection of where you’ve been and where you want to go.

One of the things that made Juniper Books so famous is your custom book jackets. What do you think of the rise of books in home décor?

My invention for the book jacket means that someone can have the complete works of Jane Austen, but in a certain Pantone chip color that matches the rest of the room or with a custom image. People have invested in how their home looks: They chose the cabinets, the carpets, the paint, and the window coverings. Why settle for books that a publisher designed? Books can have as much style as anything else in the room.

What are some book trends you are seeing now?

Publishers like Taschen, Phaidon, and Rizzoli are making these gorgeous oversize books on art, design, and architecture. I think people are collecting those as an alternative to looking at screens. The Stoic philosophers are having a moment now. And classic bestsellers like Ernest Hemingway and Jane Austen always do well.

Ok, give us the details: What is on Gwyneth’s bookshelf?

Gwyneth remodeled her L.A. home a few years ago and when she moved in she realized she needed about five or six hundred more books to complete the shelves. I looked at books she already owned, which focused on fashion, art, culture, photography, and architecture, as well as books that her kids liked. We expanded on those topics, and for the kids, we included a selection of classics that we thought they might like as they got older.

In the family room we integrated the books into her existing collection so that it felt very light, inviting, and easy to grab off the shelves. In the dining room, we stuck to a more rigid color palette of black, white, and gray since it was less of a space where one might hang out and read.

What are three things a person can do to curate their own home library?

First, think about what you are trying to accomplish. Is there a story you are trying to tell? A color palette you want to achieve? Then think about how that might work within the context of your home and available space. Second, acquire the books. Depending on how important the style and binding of the cover is to you, buy them intentionally either at your local bookstore or through online listings. Third, arrange your books in a way that makes you feel comfortable and looks inviting. It may take a few hours to get it just right.