Yesterday afternoon I fell into a decluttering spiral that quickly spun out of control and kept its grip on me until after midnight.
It started innocently enough when I looked at the long row of neatly labeled brown cardboard magazine boxes on the bottom shelf of the wall-to-wall bookcase in my bedroom. The magazines were the RWA’s Romance Writers Report, and the labels ended with 2010. The RWR is an excellent resource, and I didn’t want to throw them away, but I wasn’t using them, either, and they were taking up several feet of potential book space. And the TBR stacks were sprouting all over the house.
So I found a good-sized carton, broke down the magazine holders, and stacked the copies in the box. There was a bit of room left, so I went looking for 2011 and 2012 in the living room, where I found them mixed with the last two years’ worth of several other magazines (Smithsonian, Writer’s Digest, Texas Highways, and so on), and phone books. An amazing number of phone books–I kept five, for Houston and the local suburbs, but there are now seventeen in the garage, waiting for their turn in the recycling bin. Good thing the bin has wheels, or I’d never get it out to the curb this week.
Now that I had the coffee table mostly visible and the small bookcase in the living room cleared out, I started moving those TBR stacks. There were still obstructions in the book case (see my last post for a before picture), stray gifts still in their boxes, an extra scale, assorted pillows, an empty box too nice to throw away, so I found myself cleaning out the hall linen closet. I left the vacuum cleaner on the floor–I haven’t used it in years, but I’m pretty sure it still works–and concentrated on the upper shelves, full of sheets and blankets for beds I no longer own, old curtains, and some rather grungy pillows. Out those went (straight into the trash, no mulching in the garage), and in went the obstructions from the bookcase.
When I piled all the unread books from various places into the shelves, they fit, more or less, but I shook my head in dismay. There were a truly embarrassing number of them, and they were shoved in randomly, so I had no idea what I had or where any individual book might be found. And my back was beginning to ache.
I had been taking breaks. I was doing the laundry. I watched the news and did the newspaper puzzles. I watched two episodes of As Time Goes By (a favorite old BritCom) on PBS, and of course Hell on Wheels (lacrosse as a blood sport? and I knew Eva shouldn’t leave the baby alone!).
Then I turned the TV to a marathon of Star Trek: The Next Generation (and why am I watching that on BBCAmerica? In honor of Patrick Stewart?) and attacked the books. After three hours (with breaks for the sake of my back–crawling around on the floor just isn’t as easy as it once was) I had the unread books sorted (romance, science fiction, mystery, general fiction, non-fiction, and in a place of honor above my bed, books by my Golden Heart sisters, the Starcatchers, Firebirds, and Lucky 13s), alphabetized (what, you didn’t think my books would be alphabetized?), and thinned out (I had to admit that any book I’d been passing over for more than a couple of years was probably never going to grab me again, so I now have a carton for my next trip to Half Price Books).
Here’s the result: a little neater, a little more manageable, and I discovered a few forgotten gems while I was at it. With a few exceptions, the bottom half contains my To Be Read collection. (I need the stool to reach the top shelf.)
How long do you hang on to an unread book before you admit you’ve lost interest?