Tuesday, December 1, 2015

How I Organized My Books & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #61

Some of you may recall that I embarked on a 4-month purge back in May, with a goal of finally weeding out ALL (or most) of the abundance of excess stuff we have in our home. You might well wonder, if this was a "4-month" purge and began back in May, why am I writing about it still? Good question.

I wouldn't want to say that the purge was a failure, because we actually made great strides, getting rid of an unprecedented (for us) amount of stuff - clothing, magazines, papers, VHS tapes, etc. But progress got stalled somewhere along the way (mainly when the kids were home for the summer) and frankly hasn't picked up all that much since. The really good thing is, though, I have more confidence about my ability to toss unneeded items. I saw some real successes and I am ready for a solid phase two. In that spirit, I want to show you the success that my family had in paring down and organizing our books. Books are a tough category for us, because we hold them dearly in our hearts.

In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo advises picking up each book by hand. In other words, you have to take them ALL off your shelves or out of boxes and put them in piles to start. I initially thought, "Holy crap, we have hundreds of books and some of them are already neatly on shelves. Why would I take them all off?"

And then, when I started the process, I felt the truth of what she says. As you pick up each book, it kind of speaks to you and tells you whether you love it enough to keep it. Plus, taking all the books off the shelves gave me the opportunity to organize them better so we are able to find the books we want when we want them. My grandmother's antique bookcase (two pictures above), for example, now holds European and American novels. That's in the family room.

This jam cupboard in our bedroom holds my Canadian novels.

Here's my office bookshelves in progress. They were crammed with books and I wanted to make space for styling - ie. thrifted vases, milk glass, bookends and all that fun stuff.

Although there are still a lot of books, I managed to lighten the shelves up considerably. I decided that my office/living room shelves would hold mainly books on nutrition, parenting, daily inspiration, writing and poetry, as well as some oversize books, photo albums and books to be reviewed. Cookbooks are in the kitchen, and most of the history and art books were moved to my husband's office/music room in the basement.

With most of the bookshelves settled, I hit a bit of a snag. In this previous post, I told you the story of how I came across six more boxes of books that I had forgotten about. Six boxes! That was a rude awakening. Anyway, we managed to donate a whole bunch of them and fit a few more on our shelves. I still have one box in the basement awaiting decisions though. Progress, not perfection.

We also had the kids go through and toss some of their books. That didn't go entirely well. My son wouldn't get rid of anything (or even participate really). My daughter managed to donate maybe 10 books. I added a few more to the donate pile, but we still really need to lighten up on their books as well. My son has a full bookshelf in his bedroom and we also have a bookshelf dedicated to kids' books in the basement. I have craft books on my craft shelves too.

I feel like we would actually have more time to dig into these books if we didn't spend so much time tidying up (and frankly, complaining about the kids making a mess). I think having less stuff around is a beautiful gift that family members can share with each other. I look forward to making it happen.

Yes, there are still a lot of books in this house, but I'm happy as long as they all have a dedicated place and they look tidy. I believe in making room for the things that bring you happiness. It's all the other stuff that needs to go...

How many books did we toss?

In the end, we donated 27 cookbooks and 167 assorted other books, for a total of 194 books. Still work to be done, but I'd say that's pretty good for a family of book hoarders.

How about you? Are you a book hoarder lover too?

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  1. I used to be a terrible book hoarder, I had boxes and boxes and shelves of them (I'm an English Lit. graduate turned library assistant!), somehow I managed to get rid of anything I was unlikely to re-read, and when I moved house this year I only had 2 boxes of books! I don't know how that happened!

    1. Good for you Susie! That's amazing! :) (I'm an English lit grad too, married to a history grad. Double the trouble.)

  2. Huge job Joann, not an easy task letting go of books. Plus the boxes are so heavy to move around. Thanks for Vintage Bliss 61 today.

    1. So true Joy - huge job, heavy books! ;) Thanks so much. Joann

  3. 194 books gone is excellent! My kids won't get rid of ANYTHING. Suddenly they decide they neeeed something, even if they haven't looked at it in two years. I pretty much have to go through things when they're not around. As we speak I have a few shelves worth of books that are now too young for my youngest so I've decided we'll read through them one last time then donate them. I find it hard to let go of books too but it's easier now and I'm using the library more when I need to. My dad recently got rid of his Star Trek VHS collection (I passed it on to someone for him) and there were about 95 cassettes in their cases, which took up an entire bookcase! Funny how the DVD box set takes up a teeny amount of space on a shelf. Your blog post is timely as today I've been writing up eBay descriptions for some of the old toys and stuff we've had lying around for years... for me the biggest consideration is fire hazard so I want as much stuff gone as possible!

    1. I understand completely. My husband and I are trying to get a day alone just so we can sort through and donate kids' stuff and get the house all tidied before Christmas! I have trouble discarded the books that I read them when they were little. 95 cassettes! Wow! Good luck with your eBay sales!

  4. Wow it sounds like a big job.
    Books would be hard for me to get rid of.
    But I have a garage bay full of stuff I have to decided about I keep saying I'm going to get to it Lol. Trying to downsize my husbands, my husbands mothers stuff and mine has been a 5 year struggle he's having a harder time then me letting go.
    Thanks for the party.
    Have a great week.

    1. Sounds like you have a big job to do too Denise! Good thing your stuff is out of sight for now. ;) My husband has trouble getting rid of stuff too. Time to sneak things away...ha ha. Have a great week too!