A quote from The Problem of Bookshelves, from Caleb Crain's weblog "Steamboats are ruining everything":
I recommend two books that I've been reading by the photographer Moyra Davey, Long Life Cool White, just published by Yale University Press, and The Problem of Reading, which you have to email Davey herself to buy a copy of (see the link for instructions). Both books are filled not only with Davey's moody photos of bookshelves in various states of disarray and transition but also with her thoughts on the place of reading in a creative life, and the difficulty, in managing the habit, of striking the right balance between purpose and serendipity, and between work and pleasure. "'What to read?' is a recurring dilemma in my life," she admits in The Problem of Reading, which has, among other images, a great close-up of her mother's annotations of Swann's Way.
This exhibition presents an overview of artist and writer Moyra Davey’s 20-year career summarized in 40 photographs. Her modest images—newspapers, books, money, empty bottles, and the accumulation of objects on the tops of refrigerators—prick us into a state of increased awareness about the everyday life that both surrounds us and that we are immersed in. Her work stands as a quiet, passionate rejoinder to the hyper-staged quality of much contemporary photography, which Davey sees as bound up with the intense commercialization of the art world.
Halvard Johnson's blog "Entropy and Me" quotes from Moyra Davey's "The Problem of Reading":
So how are we to draw up those reading lists finally? I have been fascinated to note how many writers invoke chance and randomness as guiding principles in choosing their books. I am talking about Lynne Sharon Schwartz, who, citing 'the John Cage-ish principle that if randomness determines the universe it might as well determine my reading too,' spent a winter reading the Greek tragedies because she happened to find a discounted set in a mail order catalogue. I'm talking about the serendipitous findings of Virginia Woolf, the little pamphlet from a hundred years ago that she comes across in a second-hand bookshop that stops her in her tracks and rivets her to the spot. I am talking about the happenstance of Georges Perec, who, while engaged in the tedious task of arranging his bookshelves, comes upon a book he'd lost sight of and writes: 'putting off until tomorrow what you won't do today, you finally re-devour [it] lying face down on your bed.' He further speculates that in our pursuit of knowledge, 'order and disorder are in fact the same word, denoting pure chance.' And finally, I am talking about the passionate book collector uncrating his treasures after a two-year hiatus, as portrayed by Walter Benjamin in his autobiographical essay 'Unpacking My Library,' for whom 'chance and fate . . . are conspicuously present in the accustomed confusion of these book.'
Davey is also the editor of Mother reader : essential writings on motherhood (AADL) which is available at the Ann Arbor District Library.