Musings From A Bookmammal

T is for TAMING MY BOOKCASES–The A-Z April Challenge/Day 20


TWelcome to Day #20 of the April A to Z Challenge, where participants are challenged to create a post every day (except Sundays) corresponding to the appropriate letter of the alphabet. If you’d like to learn more, hit the badge on my sidebar.

I’ll be posting about bookish topics each day of the challenge. Here’s today’s post:


my bookcase in my office/library

my bookcase in my office/library

About 2-3 times a year I feel that my bookcases have reached what I call “critical mass”. When this happens I take some time to “tame my bookcases” by going through my books and make some space. I have eight different bookcases throughout my home, and I never end up removing as many books as I thought I would. It also usually ends up taking longer than I planned.

Taming my bookcases is tough for me—but it’s a great problem to have! Books are comfort objects to me. I like to own real, physical books and I love the way they look on my shelves–but I also like to break up the rows of books by leaving room on the shelves for some other objects like photos and plants. I’m also a big fan of re-reading books I’ve enjoyed—there are some novels that I’ve probably read ten times over the years. However, I definitely don’t buy or keep books just to have them—I want the books on my shelves to be the ones that have meaning to me.

my kitchen bookcase

my kitchen bookcase

So when I start taming my bookcases, I ask myself some questions—Did I like the book? Do I think I may want to read it again? If I haven’t already read it, is it still on my TBR list, or have my interests changed? For nonfiction in particular, do I think I may need/want to refer to information in the book? Does the book bring back a good memory of where I was when I read it, or who I was with, or what I was doing at the time? If I read it long ago, do I even still remember the plot?

If I answer YES to even one of these questions, the book is probably staying put. Books that get set aside are the usually the ones that I bought on a whim and just never read—maybe my interests have changed, or maybe I started to read it and it just never caught my interest. In the end, I usually end up with a bag or two to take to my local used bookstore–and I have a little more space for new books and authors that I’ve yet to meet.

How about you? If you’re still a buyer of physical books, how often do you find that you need to clean out your shelves? How do you decide what stays and what goes? Or, are you someone who reads a book and then immediately passes it on?  Please share!

Author: bookmammal

I love books, reading, writing, cooking, eating, reading while eating, and sharing thoughts about all of the above–plus a bit more! I usually post about topics relating to books and literacy during the week, and then participate in a variety of non-bookish memes on the weekend. Please feel free to join in! Some random things about me– –I have multiple bookshelves in every room of my home except the bathroom. They’re all filled to bursting. They help to make my house my home. –I have two cats who I love dearly, but who I definitely do NOT dress in human clothing. Ever. –I’ve never had a cavity. –I make a mean spaghetti sauce. –I’m a newcomer to yoga and I love it. –My day is not complete without a little chocolate.

25 thoughts on “T is for TAMING MY BOOKCASES–The A-Z April Challenge/Day 20

  1. I have shelf envy! As we are planning to put our house on the market soon, most of my books are in boxes in the attic 😦
    Once I finish a book I keep it if I think I’ll look at it again, refer to it or simply if I loved it.

  2. Im wary of letting go of a book I bought and havent read yet.
    I kept a History of Chaucer on my”to read shelves” for maybe 20 years, (I am NOT a history buff, but the cover intrigued me), and one day took it down and started to read. Because of that book I started reading medevial history, one book at a time and finally surfaced two years later feeling quite pleased with myself. Moral: don’t throw anything away if you havent read it yet. One book can sometimes start fires in there =)
    And I too re-read old favorites, continually. My husband and I finally gifted ourselves one x mas with a serious amount of modular shelving and i now have a 12 ft. long 7 ft high partitioned bookcase, with enough shelves and nooks and spaces for anything.

    • That’s one of the things I love about reading–that one book/author can lead to another, and another . . .
      Your bookcase sounds wonderful! I love it when there’s enough room to add things other than books such as pictures, interesting bookends, etc.

  3. I’d love to see all 8 of your bookcases though! Haha.

    • In addition to the two I’ve shown here, I have 2 in my bedroom and 4 in my livingroom/dining room area. I guess the floor by my bed could be considered my 9th bookcase. 🙂

  4. Glad to see I’m not the only one who has to tame the bookcase. For me, it’s as much about removing the titles I’ve managed to replace digitally as evaluating which ones I’ll really read. I lost about half my library space with our little guy was born, so I’ve gotten much better at my book hoarding. 🙂

    My A to Z Challenge

    • Yes–it’s so frustrating when “real life” interferes with “reading life.” 🙂
      Now you’ll need to start making space for kids books for your little one!

  5. Oh man, I just buy new bookcases. I can get away with this since I’m not in any permanent housing situation — though it does mean most of my books are in boxes at the moment, since I didn’t have enough room for more than four in the room I’ve got right now. I usually try to thin my shelves when I move, or when I rearrange all the books as I do every once in a while. Rarely do I manage to cull more than three or four, since most of what I have are favourites, classics I intend to read, or various references/nonfiction sorts of things. The problem with culling the nonfiction for me is that as a writer I never know when I’ll suddenly want something, or want to browse in a new area and see what I find (as Judy up above mentioned with Chaucer). It’s a good problem to have, though it means I yearn for the days when I have a proper library in my One Day House and can have everything out.

    I do try to read the long-standing unread books. My goal is to eventually have read 3/4 of my collection … not there at the moment, though you have inspired me to arrange my books, which are in horribly jumbled disorder since my move!

    • I wish I had unlimited space for bookcases, but I’m just about at my limit!
      Moving is a good excuse to weed out books (and other stuff!)–but I’ve been in my house for almost 15 years and have no plans to move in the near future. I just have to use the space I’ve got!

  6. The year before I got my Nook I started giving away books. Now that all my books are in/on one device it’s kinda cool that I can carry them all around with me. But it’s sad that I can’t pass on the books anymore.

  7. It’s a fun problem to have!

  8. I love bookcases and am in the process of turning my office into a library. I still prefer physical books over e-books. I never get rid of books I haven’t read and only give away books I’ve read if I really don’t like them. Someday, I think they may take over my house. 🙂

  9. I have a hoarding problem, and used to haunt the used bookstore. That meant I have more books on my shelf than i can read in about 5 years. Soooo, every once in a while I go through and donate books that have sat there a while gathering dust and will continue to do so as far as I can tell.

    • It’s tough for me to thin out my books, but I do try to only keep the ones that I’ve enjoyed or that have meaning to me–if I really don’t think I’ll ever want o read it, it goes into the “give away” bag. Otherwise, you’re right–they just gather dust with no payoff.

  10. I am shifting in a week and while packing I realised the number of books I own! 😮 I usually rearrange my books in a month or two & use different categories each time to arrange them 🙂

  11. You have inspired me. I need to do some spring cleaning, and my bookshelves are the #1 priority! I have a hard time getting rid of books; I know I’ll spend a lot of time rearranging, dusting, etc. and then end up giving away about 3 books. That’s what always seems to happen!

    • What I love is when I’m cleaning/rearranging my bookcases and happen upon a book I forgot I had–but then I usually sit down and start reading it, so that can bring the whole project to a halt.

  12. I’m a big eBook reader, so this has become easier for me to do, but we did just move and I managed to pack up three or so boxes of paperbacks that were driving my husband crazy – mostly books that I had since purchased in eformat. Also, I let go of a bunch of the old textbooks. 🙂

    Thanks for linking up with Spread the Love!

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