Peek inside the personal libraries of Arthur Sze, Deborah Madison, Forrest Fenn, George R.R. Martin, and Hampton Sides

Photography and essay by Gabriella Marks

Photographer Gabriella Marks has photographed the personal libraries of some of Santa Fe’s most beloved artists, literary luminaries, and unforgettable characters. Here she shares a selection of works captured in the homes of Forrest Fenn, Hampton Sides, George R.R. Martin, Deborah Madison, and Arthur Sze.

I’ve never used a book for a pillow. I’d hardly salt, slice, and serve a book to a visiting friend. Yet it’s hard to imagine living without books. I have fuzzy, distant memories of visiting a great-uncle who was a published author. The books in his home poured from shelves and onto any available flat surfaces, including the floor, where they piled into teetering towers taller than I was. Each contained an entire new world to explore. Every cover promised the potential of entertainment, company — even education — for an only child with busy working parents. Books have left an indelible impression on me, so much so that I have inked them into my skin. My first tattoo was the plagiarized (I know now) cover illustration of Dragonsinger, one of my very favorite childhood books.

A shelf lined with books is perhaps the opposite of a social media profile. No word limits. Zero pithy memes. To peruse the titles on someone’s shelves is to know them in a slower, more comprehensive way. You can see their life story writ large through thematic topics — that gender studies major in undergrad, say, or that idiosyncratic obsession with bonsai gardening a few years back. Each cover lifts the veil of social presentation to the interior life, the wondering and wandering mind of the ravenous reader whose home you’re visiting. Even the way people arrange their books reveals something subtle about the reader. Are they arranged by size, by genre, or by color? Do the trashy paperbacks get the same prime real estate as the philosophical tome?

Together, a book fetish and the emotional experience of seeing a home library inspired this series of photographs. The personal collection is a fading splendor — even some of the libraries pictured here no longer exist, as people move and “downsize.” Documenting personal libraries is a quiet ode to the excitement of seeing a new title from a favorite author and the hours of reflection, intellectual awakening, even breathless romance symbolized by the timeless act of turning the page.

Gabriella Marks is a San Franciscan expat music photographer turned chef-and-farmer groupie. Her work also encompasses lifestyle and portraiture. She currently serves as president of the New Mexico chapter of the American Society of Media Photographers.






Santa Fe New Mexican