Organizing books

Monday, March 31, 2014

Books are some of my most dearly loved possessions.They are friends and mentors, providing escape, inspiration, beauty, and imaginative travel to wonderful places. I often re-read my favorites, and they seem to speak to me, whatever age or circumstance I am in. They are hard to part with.


 Some time ago, a friend was celebrating her birthday with a party and asked each of us to bring a book from our bookshelves as a present. Do you know I went around to all our bookcases, looking and looking, and could not find a single one I was willing to give up? Fortunately, I found that I had two copies of something, and was able to give her one of them. I have to admit I felt quite selfish. This has since come up again, with my book club, and I find I have to give something away that I haven't yet read and grown attached to. I am sure you bibliophiles can relate.



I have gotten rid of boxes and boxes of books from our homeschooling days, mostly of the textbook variety, not of the "read-aloud" variety, which carry with them so many warm and special memories. I have also gotten rid of books that aren't truly "friends." That still leaves too many books for our current shelving space. We either have to: a) stop buying books, b) buy more bookshelves, c) read only on our Kindles, or d) think of something creative.

I really don't think a, b, or c are options, although b may have to be. Option d is already somewhat in place. Books don't always have to go on bookshelves. I use books as decorative elements, stacked on coffee tables, on antique caned chairs that can support books but not people, and on my mantel. What other creative ways can I find to store or display them? I saw someone make a very clever Christmas tree out of books, placing them around in a large circle and stacking in consecutively smaller circles until they had a "tree." But like that game Jenga, you'd have to be careful when pulling one out so that the rest wouldn't fall!

I have a small number of carefully curated children's books that I can't bear to give away. The kind you read to toddlers. {I have lots more children's books, that I still re-read myself, including the Anne of Green Gables series, Little Women, and the Narnia books.} They contain so many fond memories of reading aloud to my children. They were stacked under a table, but several times when I've wanted to move the table, it's been a problem. The last time I moved the table I put all the children's books on my living room coffee table. Hmmm. No place for guests to put their tea!


So this is what I did. I took an old picnic basket, and put all the children's books in it, organizing it with the taller ones in back and the smaller ones in front.



 I pulled out a few for decorating for Easter.


There's still a lot of books on the coffee table, and they're not arranged very artfully. Will have to work on that. 


I put the basket under the dollhouse my grandparents made. {That's another post!} I folded a baby blanket over the back of the basket and added this teddy bear on a child-sized wicker chair. He looks like he needs a cuddle and a story!



A simple solution, but one that makes me smile whenever I see it. What creative ways have you found to store your extra, much-loved books?

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15 comments :

  1. Love the books in the picnic basket! My child's room has some wicker baskets that fit under the bed and contain some of the paperbacks. But I have the same issue with books as you! Even though I have a home library or reading room as some people call it, it does not have enough room for all the books! xoxo

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  2. I just recently started purchasing some vintage books. I use them under lamps or other items. That was going to be one of my next posts actually! That was a good idea to put them all together in a basket so they can be seen and not in the way. I love the old pages and styles of writing and wondering how their neighborhood was bustling as they were writing their books.
    Visiting from Dwellings.
    Blessings, Diane

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  3. You forgot the ultimate option...build a library!! We are in the process of doing that right now in our new house, because like you, I have TONS of books that I'm not willing to part with. Hubby built a library for me in our old house and it was so nice to be able to go in there and "visit" with all my old friends on the shelves.

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    1. wow, that sounds like a dream come true!! enjoy!

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  4. I like the idea of books in a basket, especially for children's books. They will have such fun searching for just the right book.

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  5. Books are magic. I can relate to not being able to part with any. There are some favorites that I will never give up, and receiving a book is absolutely the best gift. My loved ones know this and are enablers! But they know that I read ALL of them. So, I really stick to the classics. I have multiples of the works of Charles Dickens, and when my friends/family come across anything by this author, they tend to BUY it for me. And I still cannot get enough. And, like you, I use my books as decoration. I'm very careful about removing the dust jacket while I'm reading a book. When it is ready to shelve, I place it back on. Loved reading your post, and thanks for sharing!

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    1. My favorites are the classics too. One reason is that I love words, and they used a more extensive vocabulary back then. Just read The Pickwick Papers and Little Dorrit for the first time last winter. Loved them.

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    2. As you loved The Pickwick Papers, you might like to take a look at my forthcoming novel Death and Mr Pickwick, which tells the story behind the creation of The Pickwick Papers. It's not a prequel, nor a sequel - it tells how The Pickwick Papers came to be and what happened after. In my view, The Pickwick Papers is not only a great book, it also has the best "backstory" of any work of literature I have encountered. You can find out more at www.deathandmrpickwick.com, or you can get a quick overview from the first pre-publication review, which has just appeared in Publishers Weekly. You can read it here: http://www.publishersweekly.com/9780374139667 Best wishes Stephen Jarvis

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  6. I am also a bibliophile and found it very difficult to cull my book collection when I moved cross country from NYC to Colorado. I donated many to charity, but I also moved many with me and was fortunate to have built in bookcases in my Colorado home to display them in. . I also saved many wonderful books from my children's childhood and now my grandchildren are enjoying them. I like your basket idea very much. I own the same gingerbread man book :) I am intrigued by your doll house --would love to see more of that someday!

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  7. I like how you have displayed your children's books. It's a great idea to keep them, as you can enjoy reading them to your grandchildren someday. I read The Black Stallion books, Cherry Ames, and Nancy Drew as a child and enjoyed them thoroughly. In adulthood, I read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and they are precious beyond words. :)

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  8. Good Morning Deborah! I love your children's books displayed in the basket. The teddy bear adds a great whimsical touch--very inviting to a child. I also display my books in pretty baskets around my family room (Pottery barn had a magazine that displayed books that way and I loved it). So I change out the books for the ones I currently read.
    I found your site because sweet Fabby found my site (and she wrote about you). I have so enjoyed browsing your site this morning (especially your about me section- I like the verse you shared in Philippians).
    Though my children are too little still for Anne with an e, I often tell them "that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it (no mistakes, yet)." Have a wonderful day!

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    1. thanks for your visit. I love that quote from Anne. I had to laugh. We would sometimes have pancakes for dinner, as a way of "starting over the day," if there had been too many mistakes in it!!

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  9. Hi Deborah, I love your solution and yes I too still have a lot of my daughter's children's books that I just don't want to get rid of and she even still has a book shelf in her room with them and she is a teenager now! I can't stop coming back to you blog and I've looked at it each day this week and I love it. I would love to become blog friends and I'm going to join you by GFC too and Pinterest! I hope that you will want to do the same and follow me too. Take care and have a wonderful day.
    Julie at Julie's LIfestyle

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  10. I think we share the same dilemma! I've got books overflowing everywhere; it's a constant process of culling and donating to the Salvation Army. I've got the coffee table book stack in my living room, and I stack them on shelving and sit things on them, like you do. The most creative idea I've seen is turning your stairs into shelving, as in, cut out spaces under each step, finish it off, and fill them with books. Looked very cool, but not easy!

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  11. I love books, too and have to say....you would feel right at home in MY home! We have many of the same books. I even have a round table in our library and a Christmas cactus about the same size as yours! I love the way you are displaying the children's books. That's a fun way to enjoy them and make them accessible, too. Now...I think I'll go put some stacks of books on my round table! Happy weekend! Hugs, Diane

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