I Spent Some Quality Time With My Bookshelf


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If you followed my saga on Twitter, you know last week we had an ice storm and I lost power all day (thankfully we were one of the lucky ones to get it back relatively quickly..seriously DAYS for some people). I spent some time at Panera to get some things done but I came back at noon and figured I’d do some cleaning and organizing of my shelves because what else is one supposed to do when there is no power and I figured it would keep me warm?

Now my shelves are looking all beautiful — clean, organized and even dusted!

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Here are some thoughts that popped into my head while I did this:

1. I’ve realized, through the ebb and flow of my bookshelves, that it’s really easy for my shelves to get messy and disorganized. There is a constant flux of books coming in and going out. I pull things off the shelf and don’t put it back always in its spot and books just get piled up. I have my shelves separated (alphabetically last name) between adult fiction books, non-fiction, ARCs, and YA fiction and I find that when I get these new books, rather than figure out where it should go, I just stack them until it gets out of control. I think I’m going to need to stay on top of this/do this every month so it isn’t such a project! HOW OFTEN DO YOU CLEAN OUT/ORGANIZE YOUR BOOKSHELF?

2. It was interesting to really look through the books that I’ve accumulated and see how my reading has changed. I shared a lot about this in my Reading History post but I can see these stages so clearly on my shelves. I see the flux of adult fiction books I bought when I first joined Goodreads in 2008. Most of my adult fiction books are way older because I haven’t bought many recent ones as opposed to my YA fiction collection which is very current and new. I see clearly the books I bought when I first started blogging and was just getting into the YA scene. I bought so many books I didn’t know about because I was trying to figure out my taste and I would just see these popular books on blogs. Most of those ones are paranormal and I quickly realized that it wasn’t the genre I loved most. I’ve decided to cull a lot of those because if I haven’t read them in almost 4 years I’m probably not going to — some exceptions though! It’s AMAZING how long some of these books have sat unread on my shelves.

3. RIP BORDERS. So many books with Border’s stickers on them — even though that’s a pet peeve of mine.

4. I realized how many MEMORIES are on my shelves. There are the great reading memories of course but, MAN, are there some great memories related to these books — the signings I went to, the days when I was always going to used book sales, certain conversations I’ve had with people about a book and other books that were what sparked friendships for me. A whole life time of memories just sitting on my shelves! It’s kind of amazing. So many stories and characters and lives I’ve lived on these shelves.

5. My ratio of read to unread books is crazy. It’s obviously because I get rid of a lot of books unless they were favorites or I would reread them but also because 1) I acquire too many (ARCs/bought/using my library) and 2) I can’t read them at a rate that is fast enough apparently. EMBARRASSING. But yay so many adventures I’ve yet to have.

6. Related to that next one, I get so many shelf anxieties so to speak. I get overwhelmed because I’m never going to get to all of them in my life time. I mean, I definitely could if new books would stop being published but there are SOOO many new books that I want all the time.

7. I kept wondering which ones of these was going to be my new favorite book. That WOW knock-you-off-your-feet kind of read that I’m so in need of! I just want to know which one it’s going to be!! Hopefully there are many of them.

8. God, I really should dust more.

9. I wonder how many calories I’m burning because BOOKS ARE HEAVY AND I TOOK ALL OF THEM OFF MY SHELVES to dust/reorganize. I’ve gotta be getting some muscle definition in this task.

10. Even though I culled even more books, there STILL is overflow that won’t fit on my shelves. I had the most brilliant idea. The platform of our bed sticks out and there’s ample room underneath and you can’t really see it when you are standing up. SOOO I made some stacks of books on my side of the bed. They are hidden pretty well, especially compared to how I had them in piles before, and honestly when you do catch a glimpse of them it kind of looks like our bed is being held up by books. Which Will always said eventually, if I kept buying more books, that we were going to have to sleep on them? MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

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How often do you organize/clean up your bookshelves? Are your bookshelves pretty organized or are the disorganized? How do you deal with new books coming in — find them a home right away, let them pile up or something else? Tell me all things shelf related!!

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I find organizing my bookshelves therapeutic… If things get really bad they look perfect! We just recently moved so I spent hours setting them up and I think it might take me a bit to get to the point where I want to rearrange. It will happen, though, and then it will happen from then on when I need it…

  2. I organize my books almost never, once a year probably. I cull my books almost once a month I feel. It’s getting out of control/ But I have a buying problem, so if me going through a shelf or case once a month helps me feel better, it’s what I do. The only bookshelf that has any order is my “signed” bookshelf and of course that is my bookshelf dedicated to signed books. Which, I actually need to organize.

    I have to be in the right mood to do all the cleaning and organizing and culling. Because otherwise I have attachment to EVERYTHING AND MUST KEEP IT ALL.

  3. I reorganised mine a couple of months ago while a friend was over. Mine is organised by genre and then just however they fit into their specific cube. I have my adult fiction books ordered chronologically by author in another bookshelf and then my Little Black Dress books are in another cube sorted alphabetically by authors last name. Seems like a stupid amount of ways to sort things now that I write it out haha.

  4. After ALA my shelves are a disaster again. Or more like my apartment is a disaster. I just have stacks of books everywhere right now and I really need to reorganize. It’s kinda out of control. So many books. And I definitely get super overwhelmed looking at them all because I know that I will never be able to get to them all. And that makes me want to cry. I love the under the bed idea! Maybe I’ll try that. 🙂

  5. Haha, I like how sneaky you’ve stacked them under your bed. I love changing my shelves. I recently went through my collection to make room and I already emptied a complete shelf. It pains me to give books away, but I hope I can make someone else happy with them – they are only collecting dust in my room. I sometimes have the same anxiety feeling, but I like to tell myself that I read because I enjoy it, so I’m not going to worry about such stuff. Just read the books and love them. Your shelves are looking good 😀

  6. I’m compulsive about my book shelves. I’ll clean them off and dust them about once a week! Although I do seem to do that more to my main bookshelf where I store all my YA. My other two are kind of lacking in attention. There’s something very relaxing about shelving and organizing books. 🙂

  7. I can definitely relate to #6 and #10! There are just so many books to read! Sometimes I wish that everyone in the book-writing world would just take a couple of years off so that we can all catch up a bit. I wouldn’t want them to stop forever though-it’s too much fun watching for new good books.

    As for books under the bed, the space under my bed is now full and I need to find a new spot. But where??

  8. I think the books under the bed looks pretty cool and a great way to store excess books. You should wrap it all the way around! As for my bookshelves, I only have one, and it’s not even filled so I don’t have the same storage problems as you do yet. It wasn’t until I graduated college that I started reading fairly often (I’ve always been a reader but read sporadically when I had time and would then just consume books) And it wasn’t until last year that I really started acquiring books and bought a bookshelf. I am pretty good about only buying (physical) books I’ve read and loved and would reread again, or the occasional book I think I will love and would make it into the reread category. So books don’t get added to my shelves all that often. And I keep my library books separately on my fireplace. I have reorganized, however, when I came home from BEA and then again for ALA. I like to stay organized but by that I mostly just mean neat shelves, I don’t have a system or anything. Well, I guess I try to keep ARCs roughly in order of release date. ANYWAY, I think when people arrange books by color it looks really cool and I think one day I would like to try that when I have enough spines in each color. I don’t know if it would drive me crazy to have series split up.. I guess I’ll find out. Also I am a compulsive thrower-awayer. So if I don’t love a book, or think I will reread it. I get rid of it. Helps keep the book count under control right now. Ok I’m officially rambling.

  9. Oh Jamie, I love this post! You’ve made me seriously feel awful about my dusty bookshelves (and I mean that in a nice way). I rarely pay attention to all my old books, but now I want to take a trip down memory lane and experience some awesome memories too. Just don’t forget to dust those books under the bed regularly. It’s amazing how fast dust accumulates under the bed:-(

  10. I probably clean up my bookshelves about once every three months… Its when the piles I stack get out of control and I am too annoyed by the mess that is my shelves that I go on a organisation spree.
    It just gets so bad, because I order the new books I desperately want (I have a list! and a limit to books I allow myself to buy, or else I would be very very poor) and then I have the books I get for review, and they all stack up. The worst is, that I just got some new shelves, and they’re ALREADY FULL again! It hasn’t even been THREE MONTHS!
    I dust them at least once a week though! No books of mine are getting dusty (I think, since I have to stand on a chair to be able to reach the top of my shelves, so I can’t actually see the top op my shelves until I grab a chair and check it).

    I do love this post Jamie!

  11. This makes me want to clean out my shelves. Maybe I’ll do that this morning.

  12. I find bookshelf organizing to be a quite calming way of spending time 🙂 I tend to let my stuff stack up for a while until I can do a big shelf rehaul, or until I’m tripping over them.

  13. My shelves are a mess. There was a time (in high school) when they were all nice and organized and kept under control. I had a lot of fun rearranging them and making sure everything was in alphabetical order all the time. Now, it’s a completely different story. My actual shelves with all my books are at my parents’ house (I have shelves at school, too, which are filled, but those aren’t technically MINE) and I don’t go there very often, so what happens is I just end up dumping whatever books I’ve accumulated at school and fitting them in where I can. I don’t have enough room anymore, either, so they’re like…double stacked. I’m having my stepdad build this really awesome large bookshelf for when I graduate/move into an apartment, so I can’t wait to organize all of my books then!

  14. I find organising of any kind to be a calming way to pass some empty time (just this morning I organised the main cupboard that holds our groceries), so naturally I reorganise my bookshelves much more than needed. When it comes to giving your shelves a good go over there is always new discoveries, that’s one of my favourite things. Plus, who knew dust gathered like that!! I bet you felt very accomplished after finishing this mammoth task!

  15. My bookshelves are actually pretty organized! Usually the thing that goes wrong is when I acquire new books and they don’t fit on the right shelf or that pesky stack of finished books that don’t fit on the shelf of all my “read” books!! I just had to take ALL of them off and now they’re homeless and on the floor again because we’re FINALLY getting around to stain the shelves (yay!) and I get to put them all back up again when the shelves are done (double yay!) — I’m a bit of a bookshelf organization nerd…

  16. I just organized mine a couple months ago. I don’t get books flooding in as much (I WISH) due to finances. My bookshelf before the two months ago organization party, was pretty bad. Yeah, dusting. I should do that more often. My poor books. What happens a lot when I get new books in is that I create this Jenga pile on my bedside night stand. I have separation anxiety with my books. Eventually I have to talk myself into letting them go. Let them rest in the bookshelf home that is only 5 feet away. haha

  17. Jamie you are Adorable!
    My Bookshelf is organized similar to yours.. Alpabetical, by author and then separated from Non-Fiction and Fiction. I don’t really have a problem at keeping my books organized since I find it to a be sort of a ritual for my to add a finished book to my shelf.. Where I get unorganized is when I have books I have yet to read lying around. Even though they do have a TBR section on the shelf to themselves that have quickly become full and overflowed. As far as dusting goes.. oh man! I dusted my shelves yesterday and thought to myself… “I JUST DUSTED THESE!” like maybe a month ago.. but STILL! it really accumulates. I am glad you got time to bond with your books and find new storage spots for them.

  18. I reorganised my shelves the other day, and it really helps with the flow of things. I find myself locating books I want to read much easier, and putting all my series that I’m slowly getting together, it’s glorious! Once I was sorting it however, I did a quick count of how many read to unread I had and over half are unread, which was both shocking and a kick up the bum I needed, because I’m speeding through books at the moment, even if some are from the library! This is such a good post, really chirpy and interesting, and your bookshelves look wonderful Jamie, absolutely wonderful! 😀

  19. I’m generally very neat about my bookshelf, but only because I’m predisposed to organizing things at all times. But as for a big organization moment? Every three months or so. I’m fairly organized, because I separate my books by ARCs/owned/favorites right now and usually manage to keep them that way. I only get new books when I really want to buy a copy of an ARC I’ve read, get another series addition or get books from publishers or libraries — and I try to keep them in organized piles.

    You did a great job with your organization! Looks awesome.

  20. My books had gotten totally out of control – shelves were full and books were piling up all over the apartment. So I went through and culled about 5 boxes worth. Like you, some unread books were not in genres I read that much anymore and had to let them go. The charity came yesterday to pick up the boxes and by last night after dinner I was in a bookstore! It is a sickness!

    • There are worse sicknesses, that’s the way I look at it! But I’m like you were – shelves full, piles everywhere, and they get so damn dusty…I have a massive pile for my local charity shop, and at least if I give to them I’ll feel someone benefits from my book addiction!

  21. I love organizing my books! Right now I have one bookshelf which is just standalone a organized by color. I like it because it looks really pretty. My other bookshelf is just for series so I could keep them together. I have all my Harry Potter books arranged on my dresser because I ran out of room for them in my series bookshelf. I really like it. It feels like a Harry Potter shrine.

  22. I totally love this post. It sounds a lot like how my bookshelves are and I freakin’ hate to dust. I also do not take off my Borders stickers because, well Borders was awesome. I am the same as you. I don’t put new books where the belong and then all hell breaks loose. And my read to unread ratio is insane. 🙂

  23. My shelf is horribly disorganized. It’s meant to be alphabetical and on each shelf by genre: contemporary on the top, paranormal on the next, dystopian on the next – these at the front with my older books like HP, Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle behind – and classics/adult fiction/poetry on the very bottom. But as my books accumulate I just them wherever. Especially with friends borrowing; the other day my friend borrowed 15+ of my books – 7 of which being my whole HP set and so there was a gap at the very back and I just shoved more books there.
    I keep my ARCs/review copies on the side and ones I’m going to review/have read on my desk. But yeah seriously just books everywhere and I’m never going to get through them all.

    It’s too daunting to clean my bookshelf LOL!

  24. I’m enjoying your post because I’m moving into a new home and will be redoing my bookshelves from scratch. I actually have a similar post on the blog asking people how they organize their shelves, since mine were a mishmash and now I want to have a purpose with where I put each book. So I will probably be doing a similar post with all my “ooh look at all these books I forgot I have” thoughts.

  25. I don’t even have a book shelf to organize, just a sad corner in my closet, but my books aren’t satisfied and are slowly taking over the entire room. Thanks for sharing this post, I’ll definitely remember this when I finally get a book shelf. 🙂

  26. I am a LOT older than you so I have accumulated more books than I can count and have built bookshelves in almost every room . . . I too figured out that under the bed is a tidy place to hide stacks of books! My ongoing problem is keeping all the bookshelves dust-free. Some of my shelves reach to the ceiling in a room with cathedral ceilings. No, getting rid of some of my beloved books isn’t an option! 🙂

  27. I don’t really have to organize mine often because I don’t have a lot of books at the moment. I got rid of a lot of them when I moved a few years ago, and I don’t let myself buy many. (The library is my BFF.) However, I will soon be getting some bookshelves installed and I’ll be bringing over some of my favorite collections from when I was younger to put on display (and I’ll move the books on my shelf in my closet onto these new pretty shelves). I’m afraid I’ll actually have to work at these more due to the fact that I’ll have to dust. And I don’t like dusting. BUT they will be on prominent display!

    Also, I like to alphabetize mine by author’s last name, except for my favorite series. My favorites usually get a special spot (currently a very tiny shelf that only holds about 20 books) that is easy to reach/find so I can easily access them to reread or loan out.

  28. My bookshelves are organized Jenga/Tetris style. I have too many books and not enough bookshelves, so they’re organized mostly by size so that I can cram as may in as possible. There’s also some overflow in my nightstand and on my desk. When I get around to getting another bookshelf, then I’ll organize better.

  29. Looks great, I really need to dust more myself with the books. And yes they can get very chaotic quite fast.

  30. Reading this post makes me want to clean my bookshelf. Well, maybe… I hate cleaning. I have taken a huge cut in buying new books recently… cause I’m running out of room and I still have a ton to read. I mean a TON. like you said, I most likely won’t get to them in my life time. But I’m going to try.

  31. I have so much fun reorganizing my bookshelves. I usually only do it when there’s too many stacked at the front of the shelf out of the order they’re supposed to be in, like 3 times a year. I haven’t found a specific way that I want to keep them yet, right now my shelves are organized by: YA: Favorite Series, series (by author last name), then stand alones (by author last name), then comes Middle Grade and Adult Fiction also by author last name. I’ve done it before though where it was all in order by author last name rather than series/stand alone. I like it the way it is now, but I’m not sure though, the next time I organize it’ll probably be different again though.

    Totally agree about having to dust more! My shelves are black & every time I organize it’s like grey with dust instead of black. It’s awful.


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