Mar 31

Thoughts on Books

I had kind of a life changing experience this fall when three things serendipitously happened.

1. We got an ipad and decided to sell our tv. We still watch plenty of shows (I’m not anti tv, I love it) but with the new setup the tv doesn’t get left on and all of a sudden you find yourself watching one of those awful celebrity shows that come on and you are listening to Mario Lopez tell you things you don’t care about.

2. We got a coffee table. Since we’ve had kids we haven’t had a coffee table. We thought it was better to keep the space open for the boys to play. But I changed my mind last fall and picked up an Ikea coffee table to do projects on.

3. We got new books. I had some Amazon credit so I decided to buy some books that were sitting in our online shopping carts so that it wouldn’t expire while we moved to Paris.

We have a pretty great collection of books already but we’ve always kept them on the bookshelf. Something happened when we put the books on the coffee table. They were literally right in front of us all the time. So we started spending a few hours a day reading and then we found ourselves having great discussions and getting really inspired. I’ve never liked the sentiment that one form of art is better than another. So please don’t take away that our minds were suddenly opened when we started reading books instead of watching tv (I think it’s more about editing the content). But I loved that we would sit quietly together in comfy chairs reading and then talking about things we care about, it was good–our lives felt better.

Have you ever gotten rid of your tv? Or do you only watch shows if Mario Lopez is on them?

photo of our coffee table in San Francisco by Aubrey Trinnaman

91 Comments

  • Judi says:

    I subscribe to Hulu, Netflix and have cable (got to have my Top Chef and Breaking Bad!) People really hate on television lately, but I think I would too if I was restricted to watching The Biggest Loser and Cougar Town. However, if I were spending a year in Paris, no way would I waste it watching televsion (maybe 30 Rock?).

    This post is great, I love how simple the coffee table is, with the books as functional decoration.

  • Judi says:

    And yes, I read! I'm a history major, all I do is read, both for work and pleasure. I realized I sound like a crazy television-obsessed person, I just love my shows!

  • Erin says:

    I like to artfully arrange books I want my kids to read on the coffee table. Later in the day I will find them curled up on the couch, reading without being asked. I sometimes feel bad about this magical mom power I possess. And then I get over it and have a secret smile in the kitchen.

  • JT says:

    I too found it amazing that if the books were within close reach, I'd read them. After a trip to Italy, I bought a book about the dome in Florence and the famous horses of San Marco and I read and enjoyed them both. I hadn't read a history book since college.

    Nice coffee table picture:)

  • Mandy says:

    We got rid of our cable about a year ago and I couldn't be happier. The only time the TV is on is to watch movies or the news. Don't worry, I still am able to catch up on my pointless tv shows on the internet…it's just a lot less convenient. I don't think I will ever go back to having cable.

  • wakako says:

    we also got rid of our TV when we moved and it has been a pretty interesting experience. It's nice not to have a big black hole in our living room and we are definitely more selective about which shows we consume on (mainly) our laptops. We watch more documentaries on Netflix and few other design related reality show!! (who doesn't love Project Runway??) Maybe I will try putting some books on our coffee table to see what would happen:)

    -wakako

  • Linda Woods says:

    This was a great post and I'm enjoying all the comments. My husband works on a tv show for a living and I write books and make art for a living. We have 2 TVs and two coffee tables full of books! We have all art forms covered here :) We often read and watch tv at the same time…gotta love modern technology!

  • Carissa says:

    ohh I loved reading this! It's so great that you guys have more quality time now and grow together in ways that you might not have by turning on the tv.

  • Angela says:

    TV free and loving it. If we want to watch something it's on HULU. I have a son who is Moses' age and I want him to remember playing and having fun not sitting around all day watching TV.

  • rosa @ flutterflutter says:

    We got rid of tv for a year, just to prove to ourselves that we could. And it was great – books are good. And now, we have it back again and REALLY appreciate it, and watch less.

  • A Sunday Kind Of Love says:

    now that we have netflix and fios i almost never watch the actual t.v. :)
    however, i do waste time watching those two options because i just got home from college in december, and after 3 1/2 years of no t.v. (ever, because i was overseas) i'm catching up!
    love your coffee table!

  • Lora says:

    We are 6 years without TV. It's life altering!!

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  • Alexandra Steinmetz - Champagne and Chiffon says:

    I stayed with my boyfriend for a week and while he had a TV, he didn't have cable, and I absolutely loved it. Unfortunately, my roommate loves cable so for now it stays, but one of these days….

  • Amanda Jane says:

    Yes! I got rid of cable (we still have our tv though for movies.) You should try secrets of a stylist on HGTV. So good! You'll love it, promise.

    also, I love your coffee table.

  • --r says:

    sometimes i wish we would do away with our tvs, but then i try taking a shower or cooking meals with my toddler running about, and have decided that a bit of sesame street really is necessary.

  • Capella Kincheloe Interior Design says:

    I didn't have cable tv for awhile after we moved, it was great, we watched movies and occasionally shows on netflix. But then college football started and we needed to get cable instead of spending all that money (and calories) going to sports bars to watch the game. But college football is over and I am finding it hard to get rid of cable. I know that I will do more of the things that I think I have no time for now and will not mindlessly veg after work with a glass of wine, but making that leap has been hard.

  • Dallas Shaw says:

    just found your blog- great pictures
    dallas
    http://dillydallas.blogspot.com

  • o charm says:

    we haven't had a tv in our 10 years of marriage.
    its absence has created such a different feeling in the home, that now i could never have it any other way. i wish i could say that time was spent on reading books, but those three little kids. . . tend to be time suckers! someday i'll get to nestle up on the couch with a book too.
    btw, i posted a tiny playlist recently of some lovely french music you might dig:
    http://ocharm.blogspot.com/2011/03/emmene-moi.html
    enjoy your 60 degrees! :)

  • mn says:

    We've not had a tv for 5 years. Don't miss it one bit, but then I've never liked tv much. We are film watchers though- on an awesome wall projector at home!

    I love your idea about keeping select books on the coffee table instead of on the shelf. I think we'd be more inclined to pick them up and read, even just for a few minutes, if books are in easy reach of a comfortable chair.

  • Christina says:

    We got rid of our tv, dvd et all when we bought our MAC. We utilize Hulu but there is something nice about not being compelled to turn the tv on. We have 2 little ones and this also gives us an opportunity to really be there in the moment rather than hearing the news or show on in the background.

  • DENISE. says:

    You are so brave! I don't think I could ever get rid of my TV. I made it without a microwave for almost three years, though :) And love what you did with the new books. I definitely want to get a new, bigger coffee table so I can do the same. Great idea!

  • bmayer says:

    I gave up TV for Lent when I was in the 4th grade.40+ years later, I dont have the same discipline or self control. I did, however, join a book club for the only reason that it forces me to read other than when I am on vacation.

  • esther says:

    We haven't had a television for the past 6 years and we love it that way! Love the idea of the coffee table covered with books. (I think I'm going to surf to Amazon now!) xxx

  • natalie says:

    We still have a TV, but don't have cable, so we watch shows on Hulu and Netflix. It definitely helped cut down the countless hours of HGTV (which I still miss sometimes). But it's still on too much. I like the idea of putting the books right there, instead ours are buried in the corner of the office.

  • jen says:

    When my husband and I were first married, we decided not to have tv. It was the best thing we could have done for the first year of our marriage. We read books (more than normal), we talked a lot, we listened to the radio. Honestly, we didn't miss out on a thing. We have a tv now, but it rarely gets turned on. I like watching the shows I want to watch on the computer…when it fits my schedule.

  • Courtney says:

    I own a tv, but it doesn't pick up any channels, so we only use it for movies (including streaming netflix). I love tv, in fact, my husband works in television, but I spend my time so much more constructively when I don't have the option of mindlessly watching whatever is on. We've spent about half our marriage with cable and half without. I have no desire to get cable any time soon, but my husband definitely feels differently!

  • Nicole LeLacheur says:

    I complete agree with you. A lot of my college professors believe that sooner or later we'll be using tablets for everything, instead of books, computers, and TVs. Don't get me wrong, I love technology, but I think we need more people like you. Books will die if we don't read them, and there is absolutely nothing like reading a book. You don't get that kind of cozy feeling with an iPad.

  • The Parkers says:

    Like so many commenters here we have a TV, but no cable to go with it. With our last move we just never hooked it up and now over a year later we are still loving the setup. Hulu and Netflix totally bridge the gap for us as well and my preschooler doesn't get sucked in so strong with just videos to watch. I've always loved TV, but now when I go home to visit my parents I can't stand so many of the shows that I use to watch all the time. The editing, the over the top personalities, and the commercials all seem so jarring to my nerves now. It's funny how without a TV you acquire a taste for and crave more quiet and still activities….like reading! I do still miss my beloved Food Network shows though :-( I haven't had much luck with Hulu on that one.

  • Elizabeth Lee says:

    I ADORE the book setup on the coffee table. It inspires me to do the same with all of my books once I get my own place :) Thanks for such a wonderful post!

  • eternalicons says:

    In a far away time (12 years go), I had no TV, after a marriage end I had 'my girls', he got the box. Yee Ha. Never happier. WE snuggled and read books constantly and chose to watch quality movies when we desired. But…. my gorgeous 2nd hubby loves his Home & away. Likes the big plasma. So now, many years on, with another child to raise I hate the TV issue. I'd get rid of it tomorrow. Give me books anyday!

  • Erica Jackson Curran says:

    I've been thinking about the exact same thing. We don't have cable but we get the basic networks with an antennae, and my husband has a bad habit of zoning out and watching whatever is on … and sometimes I join him. We agreed to institute one non-TV day a week where we're not allowed to turn it on, and my plan is to bump that number up to two or three eventually. It ends up being such a time-suck.

  • Eliza Jane says:

    I've tend to go without TV periodically. I grew up without one. Then I spent two years without one, during University, then I had a TV for three years, then i went another two without one, and now I've had one for the past two years. I don't really notice it when I don't have one, as long as I've got some way to play movies once in a while. When I was growing up, mum used to rent a tv and vcr when I got sick.

  • Jennifer says:

    Hi Jordan! Love your blog. Our family is traveling to Paris this summer. Have you read the book,
    The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain? I am reading and so enjoying the story.

    On Amazon, the author writes:
    "Most of us know or think we know who Ernest Hemingway was — a brilliant writer full of macho swagger, driven to take on huge feats of bravery and a pitcher or two of martinis — before lunch. But beneath this man or myth, or some combination of the two, is another Hemingway, one we’ve never seen before. Hadley Richardson, Hemingway’s first wife, is the perfect person to reveal him to us — and also to immerse us in the incredibly exciting and volatile world of Jazz-age Paris.
    The idea to write in Hadley’s voice came to me as I was reading Hemingway’s memoir, A Moveable Feast, about his early years in Paris. In the final pages, he writes of Hadley, “I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her.” That line, and his portrayal of their marriage — so tender and poignant and steeped in regret — inspired me to search out biographies of Hadley, and then to research their brief and intense courtship and letters — they wrote hundreds and hundreds of pages of delicious pages to another!

    I couldn’t help but fall in love with Hadley, and through her eyes, with the young Ernest Hemingway. He was just twenty when they met, handsome and magnetic, passionate and sensitive and full of dreams. I was surprised at how much I liked and admired him — and before I knew it, I was entirely swept away by their gripping love story.

    I hope you will be as captivated by this remarkable couple as I am — and by the fascinating world of Paris in the 20’s, the fast-living, ardent and tremendously driven Lost Generation."

    http://www.amazon.com/Paris-Wife-Novel-Paula-McLain/dp/0345521307/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1301939477&sr=8-1

  • greengelato says:

    we got rid of our TV last summer when we moved. it's amazing how much you don't miss something when it's not in front of you. we do, however, spend more time on our laptops!

  • Catherine says:

    I'm a librarian and former English major so I ADORE books. I can sefely say we have books in every room of our house. What I'd like to find is one of those old fashioned glass front cases for my first editions.

    Sad to say I do watch TV and I do get sucked into watching 'real' housewives. But not Mario Lopez. No.

  • Stephanie says:

    yes! we moved into a tiny studio in SF with no room for a TV… we welcomed the opportunity to rid ourselves of the "blah" shows and now watch what we want, sparingly, via our computer… it's been lovely :)

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  • paper+cup design says:

    Hi Jordan,
    I am loving your blog! I get to day dream a bit each time I read about your time in Paris. =) Was just so happy to see that you have our book, Paper+Craft. Hope you and your family enjoy it!

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