Conquering Book Clutter

Last week I wrote about my family’s extensive collection of books and my failed attempts to store and decorate with them. I resolved to move all our books onto shelves, and cleared up the small piles that were dotted about the house. I also had a lot of books crammed and stashed away throughout the house.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is full of great tips, and Marie Kondo’s advice about decluttering by category might be the one I find most useful. Usually when I reorganize and donate books I go through the shelves and piles. But this time I decided to gather every book not already on a shelf. I stacked everything on the coffee table in our home library, with a few on an end table.

BookPiles

My “Before” Pile

From there I organized by size but also by category. I still have a lot of books about teaching, and though I have no plans to return, I hesitated to get rid of them. So I chose one shelf and only kept what fit there. This way I had to choose the books I felt would be most useful if I do go back, or decide to sub.

TeacherBks

My pared-down collection of education books

I learned I was able to fit more books onto some of the existing shelves.  A couple years ago we redid our kitchen ourselves, and I was able to get this cabinet off the wall in one piece. It was in great shape so I gave it a bad spray paint job. Someday I’ll make it pretty. In the meantime it holds a lot of books and I feel good about re-purposing something. The bottom shelf had just a row of mass-market size paperbacks but today I realized I could shove them back and fit another row of books in front of them.

Cabinet

Kitchen cabinet turned bookshelf

This is what’s left. I filled two more bags, which I am going to take to the library along with the other bags I’ve had in my car for weeks.

Final

Somewhat closer to finished

I’ve learned a couple things during this part of my project. Neither revelation is new to me but both are things I need to work on, so I’m sharing:

  1. I’m really good at thinking and planning. I think and plan a lot. But I get stuck when it’s time to act. By now I should know that staring at a to-do list will not make anything happen. If I hadn’t had to write this post, those stacks of books would still be sitting on my coffee table because I would still be planning the best way to deal with them. Sadly my planning skills don’t carry over to meals, which I’ll talk about on Wednesday.
  2. Several books ARE still sitting on my coffee table. The piles have dwindled but I’m not finished. Finishing things is not my forte. It’s something I need to work on, another bad habit to break.

I’m also excited to announce The Simple Year 4 Book Club! Many of us love to read and I thought a book club would be useful and fun. At the moment I’m still working out the specifics of how to best carry it out. In the meantime, I’ll share my first pick: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Because there has been lots of interest in this book, I thought it would be a good choice for us.