An Intimate Look Into Our Life: The Style of Our Book Shelf

Books and the shelves that hold them have always been an integral part of my life—from early childhood until now I’ve always had bookshelves. About twenty years ago, I began styling them to reflect not only my reading habits but the intimacies of my personal life. 

It is a perplexing cause of vexation that on the rare times, I invite someone into my atelier or home almost no one asks questions or spends time examining these bookshelves that take me months to arrange and design, and that represent a lifetime of precious memories and priceless knowledge. Literally, they are a window into my life. 

Gina has helped me understand that people are intimidated by the subject matter or just too busy for the time it would take to discuss these “cabinets of curiosities.” And honestly, most modern humans have no idea how to pay attention, to be in the present for the few minutes it takes to discuss complex histories and tomes. 

And so I consider the priceless few friends who take the time to examine the layers closely and ask questions to be soulmates and companions to me. Immediately, my mind goes to my dearest friends such as Melissa Greene, Ray Hensley, Lindsey Dukes, JR Taylor, Jonathan and (new friend) Jackson Ford, and more who over the years have taken time to thoughtfully discuss the contents of the shelves of my life. 

No wonder the right-wing conservatives want to ban and censor books. They are filled with power for the rare ones who read them and question them, uncensored, unabridged, in the words of Mark Twain, “unexpurgated.” Thorough knowledge of subjects such as history, free thinking, and pleasure is a threat to authoritarians.

In the past few years as I’ve grown older, I have become even more uncensored. Rebelling against the restrictive rules of the institutions that have tried to control me over the years. Perhaps I’ve gone too far. If so, so be it. I am enjoying every facet of life to the fullest. And I value the rare friend who is willing to go there with me. They are a priceless gift.

If you happen to visit Barcelona (or wherever Gina and I find ourselves in the second half of life) and I extend the rare invite to my atelier, you will inevitably receive a word of caution that you will encounter full nudity and intimate subject matter that is not for the prudish or faint of heart. I have a painted scroll at the entrance stating “May this space be a sensual playground, free from censorship, fraught with curiosity, filled with mystery, fantasy, and imagination.”

So here goes. Since you have been courageous enough to subscribe to my writings, art, and thoughts, I would like to give you an intimate look at our bookshelf in our home Montecinos in Barcelona. It was Gina’s idea (and courageousness) to move the bookshelf from my atelier to the great room of our home. However, when I wanted to display a casting (an exact replica) we made of my penis, she requested that I not do so. That, and other explicit art creations remain relegated to my atelier. There is one level of friend that is invited into our home, and still another rarest of levels that are invited to my atelier. 

There are no atelier videos or displays here, but I do thank you for subscribing and therefore invite you to enjoy the photos and a shelf-by-shelf description of the bookshelves of our lives. I have designed them to portray the four essentials of my being: sensuality, curiosity, intimacy, and autonomy.

Top left: Books about true masculinity, the sacred symbol of phallos, penis size, and more.

Second from top left: Books about the love for cocktails, and a personalized whiskey decanter.

Third from top left: Randy’s pipe, which he never smokes, collectible matchboxes, and an Abulón incense shell for Solstice, Dionysia, and Saturnalia celebrations. 

Fourth from top left: A book of female nudes by one of Randy’s favorite artists, Alberto Vargas. 

Fifth from top left: Books about erotic bookplates, erotic poems by e e cummings, and rolls of Randy’s personal erotic bookplates.

Sixth from top left: A photo of Gina soaring at a hunter jumper equestrian competition atop her beloved champion thoroughbred Beau. And her hard-earned ASPCA competition medal. She was one show away from competing at Nationals at Madison Square Garden when Beau died in a freak accident. 

Seventh from top left: A fun photo of Randy and Gina. 

Top left center: Favorite vintage and rare books and a vintage wine bottle.

Second from top left center: Devoted to Randy’s music formation and career. 

Third from top left center: Devoted to Gina and her beloved father, Jerry. A book about her adoption, her handmade Italian ballet on pointe slippers, Father’s Legacy journals, and more. 

Fourth and fifth from top left center: Some of Randy’s favorite books.

Sixth from top left center: Randy’s pasta maker (a gift from his daughters almost two decades ago) and three of his favorite cookbooks. 

Seventh from top left center: A scrapbook of childhood report cards, photos, and memorabilia that Randy’s Mom made for him almost two decades ago. 

Top center: The four-volume set of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s “Cemetery of Forgotten Books” series. One of Randy’s all-time favorites which coincidentally features the city of Barcelona. 

Second from top center: A valuable hand-carved statue of Don Quixote (an estate gift from Gina’s father obtained on a long-ago visit to Spain), and a two-volume Spanish language set of the classic book—one of Randy’s favorites. 

Third from top center: Favorite books about wine, and three very meaningful and rare wine bottles. 

Fourth from top center: A framed gift from Johns Hopkins University and Hospital featuring Randy & Gina on the cover and feature article of the JHU “Planning Matters” Winter 2023 magazine. And our two Johns Hopkins Legacy Society lapel pins. 

Fifth from top left: A large format photography book of our beloved Beauchamp Farm. A gift to Gina’s father that was left to us at his death. And a dream catcher, turkey and bird feathers, and a rattlesnake tail—all from the farm. 

Top right center: Some of Randy & Gina’s favorite books. And our wedding chalice that Randy also used to hold the mushrooms for his first psychedelic experience.

Second from top right center: Carl Jung’s “Red Book.” A gift to Randy from Gina. 

Third from top right center: A chess set (one of Randy’s favorite games-he was president of the chess club in high school) a game that Randy and Gina enjoy together and an incense burner for the games. 

Fourth and fifth from top right center: More of Randy’s favorite books.

Sixth from top right center: Randy’s life journals. 

Seventh from top right center: Some of the books Randy has written. This row will be replaced as we gather more books here in Spain. Unfortunately, we had to leave over twenty boxes of books in the USA, due to the cost of shipping overseas. 

Top right: A photo of a joyous Gina at Caliza, Alys Beach, Florida (one of Randy’s favorite photos) and books featuring true femininity, popular female fantasies, Greek and Roman goddesses, and more.

Top right second shelf: Historical fiction including five volumes personally signed by the late author David McCullough. Also Randy’s fraternal grandfather’s vintage wooden ruler. 

Top right third shelf: US Geological survey markers from two of the five fourteen thousand foot plus mountains that Randy officially summited (all but one were solo climbs), including Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the contiguous United States. No, he did not steal them from the top, they can be purchased from the NGS. 

Top right fourth shelf: An erotic graphic novel by one of Randy’s favorite artists, Paolo Serpieri.

Top right fifth shelf: A handmade wooden, leather, and metal chest from Egypt. A gift from Randy’s dear friend Mark Jaffrey.

Top right sixth shelf: A photo of Randy and Dany, his beloved Arabian, at Beauchamp Farm. 

Top right seventh shelf: Tabletop books and conference notebooks. 

I hope you have enjoyed this opportunity to look in and see where we’ve been and where we’re going. It’s a lot of work, but so much fun, to play around with different ways to layer things in and tell our story. Our bookshelves are truly a multi-layered work of art. My ultimate goal is to figure out a way to incorporate our past and present, but still leave room for the future. Ideally, the bookshelves will be ever-changing. 

8 responses to “An Intimate Look Into Our Life: The Style of Our Book Shelf”

  1. JimBo Gulley Avatar
    JimBo Gulley

    Your intentionality is one of the things I most admire about you…thank you for always being willing to share the transparency of your heart, that creates a space for “never a dull conversation.”

    1. Randy Avatar

      Yes, Jimbo, thanks so much. We have certainly have had many “never dull” conversations. Wow. Grateful to have a friend like you I can be fully transparent with!

  2. Ray Hensley Avatar
    Ray Hensley

    I love the passion in which you describe your collection of books and memories and all those things you hold dear. Most people are not so intentional and haphazardly arrange books by their height, weight, thickness, etc. Your thorough and extensive description sheds light as to who you truly are and what earthly valuables you most treasure. I cannot think of anyone who has attained your degree of freedom. I look forward to seeing this new arrangement. I miss you my friend!

    1. randy Avatar

      Thanks so much, Ray. Your words mean the world to me. Particularly, “I cannot think of anyone who has attained your degree of freedom.” Ahh, so grateful. I miss you too, more than I can say. Can’t wait to see you in September.

  3. Jonathan Ford Avatar
    Jonathan Ford

    Randy, I love the intentionality of your library! Your book shelf is a monument to beauty, discovery, truth and passion. It is the essentials that you have chosen to treasure when forced to down-size in physical space. A sheer gift to realize that what you value is not the quantity of your possessions but the quality of experience that your most precious possessions embody. Thank you for sharing your space with us! And for the few of us who have enjoyed the sacred spaces of atelier’s past, it is no surprise that you wasted no time crafting yet another place of inspiration, and reminders of your quintessential attributes and joys. Can’t wait to come over and see its evolution as you continue the Quest that is still before you. Much love, my friend!

    1. randy Avatar

      Thanks so much, Jonathan, for seeing this art and art of the past.


  4. Gina Elrod Avatar
    Gina Elrod

    Love this and our life!

    1. randy Avatar

      Yes. Yes. Yes.