A bookshelf is a personal space. One that reflects the reader’s interests, preferences, curiosities. Shelves filled with stories that drew their attention, sparked their imagination enough to have found a home within their home. But it is not just about the content of the shelves themselves and the books that reside there. What is often fascinating is the space itself. How are the books organized? A neat and tidy alphabetized system? Or maybe stacks of volumes line the walls and lie scattered on the floor, no longer finding room on overflowing shelves.
Recently, I found myself analyzing my own bookshelf, and quickly realized that the books I owned and the way they occupied my space simply didn’t make me happy. To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t cleared out many books over the years, so over time the amount of books just increased and ever so slowly I was surrounded. Perhaps you are someone who loves to have lots and lots of books occupying those free inches of space, but I came to learn that I am not one of those people. Once I lose sight of what specifically I own, and the volume increases, it all just starts to feel like clutter. So, I decided to tackle my collection of books, taking stock of what I had and what I wanted to keep, breaking down the process into a few manageable steps:
Picking out the favourites. Looking at a bunch of books and deciding what to give away can be daunting, which is why I started by selecting the books I love and had zero doubt about keeping. It was nice to be reminded of stories I enjoyed so much and it set a happy little mood to get organized.
Setting aside the “goodbyes.” I scanned through each shelf and removed any book I was sure I did not want to keep. These are books I had either not enjoyed, did not want to read again, or just generally felt ready to part with.
Sorry, I haven’t read you yet. I separated out all my unread books. It is funny to go through these because it takes me back to that initial discovery and the excitement I had to read any one of them. But sometimes books get lost in the shuffle, with many other books vying for attention. I really like having some unread books around that I can reach for, but that number should be within reason.
Do I still want to read you? I went through the unread books and decided which ones I still wanted to read and the ones that no longer sparked interest went into the giveaway pile.
Taking another peak. After all that was done, I went through what was left. On a secondary run through I placed each book in either the giveaway pile, the “still not sure” pile, or the “to keep” pile.
After boxing up the books all set for donation, I organized what was left!
Maybe you like to have your books organized in alphabetical order or maybe by genre or even by the colour of the spine. Whatever makes you happy. I am not very particular, however, there are a few sections that I like to have:
- A shelf for my unread books. This way they are more visible and I can go to one spot rather than look through an entire bookshelf.
- A section for non-fiction books and a section for mysteries/thrillers.
- The books that are in the “not sure” pile I keep in their own little section so I can revisit them at a later time.
One thing I highly recommend is to have a plan for the books you are letting go of. This makes everything more purposeful, and having the next step in mind will help prevent boxes of books from collecting dust with no place to go.
Sorting through my books and narrowing down my little collection was quite therapeutic. I was reminded of wonderful stories that I would like to revisit and I let go of the ones that were ready for new homes. My bookish preferences have changed overtime and I now find myself the most content with a collection of books that made an impression on me and have some kind of significance.
Whether you love to surround yourself with all kinds of books or maybe just those that hold meaning for you, I hope it is a space that brings comfort and contentment.