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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Decluttering the book shelves

My husband and I are both avid readers, and much of our courtship was spent discussing books we had read, long ago or that very day.  In fact, he dreamed about having his own library.  A room filled floor to ceiling with books, and probably a fireplace, velvet winged-back chair, and a pipe too.

He also loved to browse garage sales for these treasured books, and quickly became interested in the "look" of a book.  He bought all of the Reader's Digest Condensed books...all of them, so that he could have them beautifully lined up.  Volumes 1 through 166.  He bought every Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew he could find.  If he found an author he really liked, such as Tom Clancy or Patrick McManaugh, he bought several copies of their books.

In our almost 13 years of marriage, we have moved 9 times.  Each time, our fabulous friends who showed up to load the truck would sing the refrain:

"I've never seen so many books."


"Do you actually read all of these?"


"Another box of books?  How many more are there?"

Recently, I read a wonderful post about how to choose which books to get rid of.  I was so tired of crammed and sagging shelves that advice like "anything that is red" or "any book over 1 inch thick" would have been welcome!  But her advice was even better.  She said

Keep one shelf of books you plan to read in the next year.  You can also keep books that have very significant meaning to you (such as yearbooks).

One shelf!!  Could I really consolidate my books onto one shelf??  I took it as a challenge.

  • I first cleared out all of the books that I had already read and did not need to read again.  That was at least one box. 
  • Then I took out all of the books that I had not read and really didn't ever want to read.  This still left quite alot.  
  • Then I started thinking about "What would I read today?"  That narrowed it down to about 30, and everything else went to Goodwill or the Give to Friends pile.  

That was about a month ago, and now when I look at the bookshelf I realize there are books out of that 30 that I now don't have any desire to read.  So, today I'm telling them goodbye and sending them off to a new home.

By the way, two websites have really changed my need to keep books in my house.

The first is  When someone recommends a book, or I see that lots of teens are reading a book and I want to pre-screen it for my kiddos, I add it to my reading list.  Voila!  I don't have to buy it.  I don't have to keep it on my shelf.  It's on my list for whenever I get around to it.

The second is my Library's website. I have a fabulous library system that has pretty much every book ever written.  When I decide I want it, I just place it on hold and two days later is waiting for me!  When I'm done, I can give it back! It's kinda like I'm keeping all of my books at the library.  Books never have to fill up my space again - because I'm spaced out!  I'd rather make room in my home for people than things.

Since my kids love books too, we go to the library on a very regular basis, and conveniently there is a computer right there by the kids' section.  I can go online and log in to my Goodreads account, and browse through for something that looks wonderful, look it up on the library's catalog and find out exactly what shelf it is on.  It's fun!

Wanna know what I'm reading?  Check out my reading list!

Wanna know what I'm not reading?

 Item #5: Books I can live without.

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