Shelf life: novelist Hanya Yanagihara on living with 12,000 books

The A Little Life author opens the doors to her one-bedroom New York apartment

Man Booker prize-shortlisted author, editor of the New York Times Style magazine T, travel writer: Hanya Yanagihara has distilled three of her greatest passions – books, art and travel – into her one-bedroom apartment in downtown Manhattan. The flat, housed in a steel-framed former bottle factory, has no dividing walls: instead, a vast, double-sided bookcase, containing more than 12,000 titles, acts “as a kind of suggestion of a wall”, Yanagihara says. On one side are her private quarters – bedroom, study, wardrobe and bathroom – on the other, a living room, kitchen and dining table. Floors are black, polished floorboards.

Every book is arranged alphabetically by author. “Anyone who arranges their books by colour doesn’t truly care what’s in the books,” she says. “I’ve always had them and collected them. I have multiple editions ...