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Ideal Bookshelf

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Jane Mount paints portraits of people through the spines of their favorite books. "We show off our books on shelves like merit badges, because we're proud of the ideas we've ingested to make us who we are, and we hope to connect with others," says the Atlanta-born, California-based artist, designer and entrepreneur. "I think this is endearing and charming." Her "Ideal Bookshelf" paintings showcase highly personal selections, with colorful, hand-lettered book spines -- the design of which she finds fascinating. "It's such a small place for a lot of information, with very little room for distinct characteristics," explains Mount, "even though it's exactly what you use to identify books first." Soon, she'll be able to paint the spine of a book devoted to the Ideal Bookshelf, out this fall from Little, Brown.