Could That Backyard Shed Become Your Reading Retreat?

Library Shed

Library Shed, Source: iVillage

Many of us readers share a house with people we love. Love is nurtured in conversations, the sharing of household chores, and if we are parents with children, caring for those children. All important, and hard to do, and read at the same time.

Some of our homes are too small to get away and read, isolated from family life. Either one gets up early in the morning, or hides out in the bathroom. We dream of sitting rooms, dens, and “man caves.”

Another solution is gaining popularity. A number of people are looking at the humble backyard shed and turning it into a retreat. Women have created a “She Shed” movement captured on a number of episodes of the Today show. Here’s an early one on how “she sheds” have become the alternative to the man cave.

Bibliophiles have noticed. Gail A. Sisolak portrays some drop-dead gorgeous back yard sheds turned into libraries that includes the image featured above. One “he shed” in this blog post has over 12,000 volumes–in a shed! Others combine one’s library with comfort and beauty–light and good seating within, and a beautiful garden outside the shed door and windows.

I haven’t seen anything about sheds in northern climates or humid climates. We don’t tend to think about heating, cooling, and de-humidifying sheds, but for comfort and avoiding mustiness, library shed owners have to think about such things, unless it is just a seasonal retreat.

Some people are do-it-yourselfers. One of the bestselling books on building sheds is She Sheds: A Room of Your Own. There are sequels to this book, how to’s from companies like Black and Decker and more. There are a number of instructional videos and websites online.

Or you can go the store-bought route. There are rock bottom priced tiny sheds available at big box stores for $600. Most run between $2,000 and $8,000. You still want to see whether these are pre-assembled or whether “some assembly is required.”

Whichever route you go, you will need to think about climate control for both you and your books, something not included in most utility sheds. Then there are questions of shelving, carpeting, lighting and seating and other amenities. But you’ve probably been dreaming about what you’d do if you have such space.

Before you start your project there are a few sign offs. One is your family–it is the kind of expenditure everyone has to agree on, maybe with some discussion of how the family will share this retreat. The other is your local zoning and building permitting regulations, which differ from place to place.

With the pandemic, we are spending more time at home than usual, more time around each other. More space, particularly for a quiet hour of reading, may be a gift for family members who are tired of overhearing Zoom calls or need to get away from streamed videos. It’s a way to buy a bit more space for everyone and perhaps a bit more storage space for your books. Maybe this is the year you build your library shed.