PHASE 1 IS COMPLETE (for now)

I talked about how I was doing a whole Bookshelf Revamp project in the Spring and I just, this past weekend, finished step 1 which was culling my books.

 

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It. Was. The. Hardest. Thing. Ever.

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On Bookshelf Organization

 

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So if you caught my #shelfgoals post recently (I’m writing both of these on the same day so no idea when I’m actually scheduling them haha) I shared the current disaster that are my shelves (embarrassing pictures and all) and talked about my plan for a revamp project for my shelves this Spring.

I outlined a number of things that I’d be doing to revamp my shelves and one of those things was to think about my shelf organization but I had so many thoughts about this so I promised a full post instead of jam-packing that post with it. So here we are to talk all about bookshelf organization.

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#ShelfGoals On My Mind

If you peruse Instagram or Tumblr on a daily basis, you might find yourself drooling over some personal libraries and shelves that are pretty much the epitome of #shelfgoals. I mean, they are beautiful and clean and organized and adorned with the cutest of cute things. And every day I pretty much have bookshelf envy.

Just a few examples.

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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!!

The Ebb and Flow Of My Bookshelves

Upon finishing a book, after processing and all the normal things, the question that dashes through my mind even before “what to read next?” is “Am I going to keep this book?” That might surprise you since I told you I’m a book hoarder who is drowning in books but that’s mostly because I keep taking in new books. Honestly, at this point, most of my bookshelves are full of unread books.

I am pretty ruthless about getting rid of books after I’ve read them. I have four bookcases and I really don’t want to get anymore right now — unless I can have a whole library and in our current dwelling that means either giving up the bedroom or the bathroom or the living room. I have been trying to be a little more of a minimalist (trying is the operative word here) and I don’t want to keep things I’m not going to use…or in this case read.

It’s been hard to be so ruthless about it because on one hand I’m like MAN I paid for this book. It should stay! Or what if I want to lend it to someone? And sometimes it’s purely superficial because the cover is so BEAUTIFUL. And also because I just WANT to see SOOOOO many books in my possession. And sometimes I feel really conflicted because I feel like by getting rid of a book I’m like “YOU ARE NOT WORTHY” when the book, in reality, was quite good and I liked it.

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So as soon as I finish a book I make a decision to put it one of two places — back in its place on the shelf or I put it in my designated “to find homes for” space. I make my decision based on four questions.

1. Would I consider it a favorite? If it’s a favorite it automatically gets shelf space. If I was reading from an ARC/ebook I purchase said book because FAVORITES ALWAYS GET SPACE ON THE SHELF.

2. Will I reread it? Sometimes a book might not be an all time favorite but I could see myself wanting to revisit the story at a later date or reread certain passages or it was so darn thought-provoking that I know it will just keep on giving. Most of the time favorites ARE also rereads but sometimes not and I just want to have them to lend out and to just have in my collection.

3. Is it part of a series I love? If it’s part of a series I love, I’ll keep it even if that particularly book wasn’t a fave. I don’t care about matching series covers as I’ve admitted to before but I absolutely WOULD hate starting at an incomplete series though there are some books I’d rather wish didn’t exist in a series. Amirite here?

4. Is it signed? Sometimes I’ll keep a book that maybe wasn’t a favorite or a reread but I really LIKED if it is signed — especially personalized by an author I love. If it’s not personalized it’s a case by case. It’s tricky because sometimes I really liked the author but did NOT like the book at all.

 

So, if the answer is no to the four questions above what do I do?

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Pass them on to friends and family: If there’s a book I enjoyed and can think of a friend/blogger who might also enjoy it, I pass it along to them because I’d rather see it get read by a friend. Also, enter book club. They get dibs. I also pass them along to my teen niece and nephews A LOT.

Donate to bookish things I support: I donate them to my librarian friend + book clubber Katie for her to take to her library and put in the collection/use for sales to raise money for the library.  I also donate them to my library. I really love my library, even after a bad encounter with one nasty librarian, and I think their YA section is okay. I like to give back to them as much as I can. They’ve put some books in their collection and I always keep an eye out for when I can donate for their library sale. I also donate them to a neighbor who teaches English at a local high school and he puts them in his classroom.

If I exhausted all the ways of people I know + supporting my community, I will take them to a local women’s shelter and I plan on contacting a children’s hospital to see if they would take them (I don’t know what the rule is with that kind of thing).

There are so many different places I could donate my books to but these are just the ones that I personally do because I love matching books to readers first and foremost and I love supporting my local libraries and the English departments because I know it’s hard with resources being cut. I’ve also been wanting to look into other places in the community I can donate to also.

Even though I feel good passing them on + donating them, it’s so HARD being ruthless after I’ve finished a book. Aside from the very fond feelings for some of them,  there’s that actual parting with it thing that’s always HORRIBLE for a book hoarder. VERRRRRY TRAUMATIC.

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But in order to be a little more minimalistic and simpler in life, gotta do what I gotta do. It’s still out of control by most (probably not book bloggers) standards but I do feel better about not having books just collecting dust when they are off living life and being read by someone else.

If you aren’t so good at culling your bookshelves you should take a look at April’s guide to culling your books! Very helpful for you if you don’t know where to start because it is super detailed and covers books you’ve not read which is where I’m BAD at deciding. I’ve always had a foolproof plan for BOOKS I’VE READ so I’m hoping April’s questions will help me with a system to get rid of the unread books collecting dust. Also maybe I should just stop buying random books? But honestly a lot of mine are from LONG LONG ago that I just can’t seem to part with even though it’s been 6+ years and I’ve still not read them.

Let’s Talk:

Do you keep all the books you buy after you read them because you can’t part with them? Are you ruthless with getting rid of books? What do you do with them when you do decide to remove them from your shelf? I’d love to know the ebb and flow of your bookshelf!

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