Back to the Bookshelf

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.

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?

Reorganization

 

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. patodearosen
    Aug 25, 2013 @ 15:15:47

    Hi, Kay,
    Your bookshelves are super neat and inviting now. I like to think I pass along books to better homes than mine,

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    • Kay Hudson
      Aug 25, 2013 @ 16:19:18

      Well, the books in my bedroom are pretty neat. But then there are several other rooms, including the wall-and-a-third of Jack’s military history books–and the nineteen banker boxes of same that I took down to make room for some of mine. Maybe I need a storage unit.

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  2. JF Owen
    Aug 25, 2013 @ 15:57:16

    Gee thanks. Now it’s my turn. No pressure there! 🙂

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  3. robena grant
    Aug 25, 2013 @ 15:59:14

    I hang on to books for way too long, because I know that as soon as I give them away I’ll want them again. ; ) Last year I moved all non-keeper books to the garage and ended up taking them to a non-profit charity. The ladies started raiding them the minute I took them in, asking my opinion on various reads. It was fun.

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    • Kay Hudson
      Aug 25, 2013 @ 16:21:57

      I have replaced more than a few books in the last couple of years when I discovered I had let my old copies go (or possibly they disintegrated) over the years.

      The non-profit idea is a good one. Reminds me that there’s a charity for abused women in my area that I send a check to now and again. Maybe they’d like some books.

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  4. E.E. Burke
    Aug 25, 2013 @ 17:07:05

    A few years back, I purged tons of old books, gave some away, sold others, boxed some I wasn’t ready to part with, kept the ones I treasured. Hard to say when I decide a book needs to go. They just speak to me. The ones that want to stay, remain. The ones that are ready to go, leave. My problem is keeping too many in the digital cue and then forgetting they’re there.

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    • Kay Hudson
      Aug 25, 2013 @ 17:14:45

      I’m happy I don’t have to look at the mess on my Kindle. Last night I sat down with it, in between moving paper books, and added a Collection for all my Golden Heart sisters’ books. But I read more on paper, so those do get left behind sometimes.

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  5. Heather Ashby
    Aug 25, 2013 @ 19:38:36

    I think your bookshelves are beautiful and neat. Books are our friends. At least that is how I was raised, marinated in books, with bookshelves in every room. Before I moved my mother from independent living in Pennsylvania to assisted living here in Florida, we cried on the night we “weeded” through her books. Even after weeding, we still shipped 56 boxes of books that she simply could not part with! I still have some of them even though she is gone. I cannot part with her favorites. But good for you for going through them now and then. I try to do the same, but like you, I’ve a pile of my Firebird Sisters and my Henery Press Sisters which will keep me in books for quite some time! (And thank you again, sweet Kay, for reading my book this week when I see there’s lots of competition at your house!) Write on! And Read On!

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    • Kay Hudson
      Aug 25, 2013 @ 19:47:39

      Heather, when my mother moved in with me, she had already pared down the books when she moved from Florida to Texas a few years earlier. So when the lady who bought her house turned out to be a book lover, Mom packed up her favorites and gave the rest to the house buyer. Years later, long after my mother had passed away, the woman with her books mailed two back to me, because they had romantic inscriptions from my dad. They were Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, in those old, two-column print editions from the 1940s. I never could thank the woman–her return address was illegible–but I was happy to have those books back. Still have them, and most of Mom’s favorites, and even some from my own distant childhood.

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