Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Styling Bookcase Thoughts


I started writing a reply, but my thoughts are actually big enough for a whole post. In fact, this is a perfect time for this post as I recently did some rearranging when I went through looking for my TBR books. I find it's a good time of the year to cull out some for the donation pile.

The Current Situation
I have three (well four, I guess) basic shelving areas for books at this point in time.

Area 1: Oversize books are just stacked up on our mantle. We don't have a coffee table, so they end up here. Most of the ways to fix my current problems really involve buying more furniture, which is not currently in any budget...basically ever. I'm okay with this coffee table book stack for the most part because they're accessible and people could look at them if they wanted to.

Area 2: At some point a few years ago, probably to clear out room at home, I moved ALL of my poetry books to school. I don't know how I feel about this after reading Station Eleven. What if the superflu wipes us all out and someone comes through my house looking for poetry books, and they're all at work? Sigh. When I want to read poetry at home, I usually use the Poetry Foundation app. So..for now, they're staying at school. I try to keep all my teaching and work related books at school. Books for my grad school classes I keep at school when I'm done with them. I have tons of room at school, so I might as well use it!

Area 3: The holding area for TBR books. I've found it really useful to keep books I haven't read yet in one place. In theory, it's supposed to keep me from buying new books, but that hardly ever works. This is also where I put books that people let me borrow. If they stay there too long, I return them even if I haven't read them. As an aside, I generally don't let people borrow books anymore. Most of the time, if I give someone a book, I assume that I'm never going to get it back. It keeps me from giving away books that I might want to read again. You can see some TBR books in there!

Area 4: This is the biggest problem becomes readily apparent: I really *don't* have enough
bookcases for the number of books I have. Even with culling, I just am packing these shelves in. I don't have many knickknacks on my shelves, mostly because I don't have many knickknacks at all. But if I was artfully arranging things on those shelves, I'd have even *less* room!

As for their current arrangement, the top 3 shelves on each are fiction, and it just goes straight across the two rows. This is straight alphabetical, with paperbacks mixed in with hardcovers. I don't think I could do color because I have so many books by a same author, and it would drive me bonkers if they were all in different places. Graphic novels are together, although I don't have that many, so it's easy. The bottom 3 rows are non-fiction, and they're loosely organized by subject. So literary history, biographies, all the James Joyce is together. Then any science books, history, etc. The bottom left is all cookbooks. I mean, I hardly use cookbooks anymore, mostly the internet, so that be space I could reclaim at some point.

The Problem
I would LOVE to buy new bookcases (or get the dream!) As you can see, these are the fairly crappy Billy bookcases that I've had for at least ten years, but buying all new bookcases---even IKEA ones---would be too expensive. Here's one I've been lusting after for years. Wouldn't this look AMAZING in the place of the Billys? The problem with that is that I'd totally be buying it for the looks, but I'd have way less room for actual books. Therefore: no cool round bookcase. [PS. You can see I put a shelf on upsidedown when I was building the Billys. Look under the cookbooks. You can see the underside of the shelf is facing up. It's charming! Heh.]

I have thought a lot about moving these shelves, because this area gets lots of direct sunlight. It's not like my books are worth anything, but I can see how the spines are becoming faded. Sigh. The only books I actually moved are my Harry Potter books. Those are downstairs on the desk. As it is, even though we have a huge place, I don't have a whole lot of places for other bookshelves given the current furniture situation. I could have done it downstairs on that big wall, but it became the map wall, and I love that too much to give it up.

One look I really do like are lots of low shelves, and that's probably something I could get away with...but then we're back to buying bookcases, and that's just not going to happen anytime soon. Of the ones in the link you sent, this is my favorite. If I could have floor to ceiling bookcases, I'd do it in a hot second.

The REAL problem: Let's be honest: there are books stashed all over the house. I try to corral them upstairs and move them back onto the shelves, but they are *everywhere*. For some reason, I just keep buying them. And getting them from the library. And reading on my Kindle. You'd think I just loved reading or something!



  1. [Part 1 of 2, cause I had so much to say about this...]

    Yup -- "there are books stashed all over the house." This was what the mover was talking about. I just thought it was so funny that I never really *noticed* before. Heh. "You'd think I just loved reading or something!" HAHAHA. Or something!

    Bookcases are expensive, there's no way around it. Even from IKEA (ours are IKEA -- I like them because they do seem to have a bit more style than BILLY [although yours have the extra "pop" with that one upside-down shelf!] but they were still $400). So that's rough -- that money could be spent buying... more books!

    I will say that Craigslist is a good option -- if you're up for a hunt.

    I had to laugh that we have the same issue -- large houses, and yet not feeling like there is room for the bookcases! I guess because... the bookcases are so big? Heh. That's how ours ended up in the bedroom -- our room is huge and that was really the only empty wall big enough for the bookcases!

    If you like low bookcases, I think you have a good opportunity under the windows where the catnappers are. And... the cat can just nap on top of the bookcases! :)

    Oooor... you could move the map wall to where the current bookcases are. I know you just "finished" it but hey -- decorating is about evolution.

    In our house, our other book-y gathering spots are: Built-in bookcases next to the fireplace (which bother me because the shelves are really far apart from one another -- we could jam a few more shelves in there and increase capacity!) which have all the vintage hockey books. I think that Bill has read most of those (a lot are from his childhood!) but those are kind of "decorative," I will admit. (But some are pretty funny.)

    Then we have the coffee table -- that's got library books, borrowed books, and "just bought" books... like, books I have recently bought and want to read right away (vs. just jam on the TBR shelf for distant future reading). We've also got a few "coffee table" books there (ha ha!) although I think I should do more to rotate those out. (Except Building Stories, which is huge. It will probably always live there...)

    Cookbooks are in the dining room, but that selection has really been dwindling over the years, except for particularly sentimental ones (vintage Hungarian, tomato-themed ones, the cookbook from the restaurant where we had our first date...) Cause I use the Internet for recipes now. Aaaand... I'll agree with you -- I think yours could probably get the boot, as well. I mean, you hate to cook -- do the cookbooks help you at all? ;) Side note: I think we have the same recipe box. Heh.

    Then there is an entire bookcase in the craft room of... just craft books. Surprise, surprise.

    And in the office, we have the work-related books (bo-ring).

  2. [Part 2 of 2 cause I never shut up...]

    However, all of this talk did make me go back to the "main" shelves (shown empty in my original post) and cull more books... mostly *travel* books. Which... yeah. The Internet has totally replaced that. And even if I *did* buy another book again for a trip, Bill had a good take on it: "View it as disposable." Meaning: Use it for that trip, then get rid of it. I think I've thought of them as souvenir-y in the past but f* that. We've had a whole shelf of travel books since we moved here almost 3 years ago and I have not cracked a single one. Time to boot them! (They're already packed up.)

    I also have things kind of randomly arranged on the shelves -- I think I jammed them on here when we got the bookcases and haven't really revisited them. Here is a little tour of our bookcases. I have already greatly reduced the "Travel" shelf but the shelves labeled "pretty" (yes, I have pretty books grouped together.) (???), "paperbacks," "treasured" (this includes HP and other lifelong favorites), and "hardcovers" are *all* fiction. And kind of randomly dispersed. So I think those could all be moved to one of the big bookcases aaand... arranged in color order! Cause... why not? (I will say this: As a highly visual person, I do, in fact, remember the spine color of basically every book I own. So it's as good of an organization scheme as any...)

    That leaves the other case for Bill's books, TBR books (which eventually move into the fiction, for the most part...), Graphic novels (seems weird to intersperse those with other fiction, right?), and decor + yearbooks. (Yes, yearbooks. That's gold right there!) which end up on the same shelf cause they are tall. I have so little non-fiction that it could probably get jammed in with the fiction (I am wild). Although I was thinking I might move all of the Detroit/Michigan books to the guest room. You know, in case visitors want to read all about the beauty of Michigan while they are here.

    The center column would remain as art and poetry, as well as what I have labeled "bad" on this image -- for Big Ass Dictionary. I'll never get rid of that thing! :)

    Man... all the time I have spent thinking about this, I could have been reading. HAHAHAHA.

  3. I love all of it. The tour of the bookshelves is especially funny because I missed the apostrophe in Bill's and thought it was bills...hah! That would be a lot of bills. And that would be horrifying.

    I never thought about moving the map wall, and now my mind is just kind of blown. Certainly something to consider!

    I love the idea of putting the Michigan/Detroit books in the guest bedroom. I think that's a great idea. I mean, I pretty much travel with books all the time, but I appreciate people who keep books in the guest room.

    My friend Lori says she "keeps the fiction in the bedroom. It's the best place for it, I think." Hah!

    I completely agree that getting rid of travel books and probably cookbooks is a good way to go. At the very least, I can go through old cookbooks and pick out recipes I like and take picture of them. I'm still far more likely to use them that way than I am to page through them randomly looking for a recipe! As for the recipe box---it's from my shower that YOU planned. I looked through it recently and I have all these recipes written by friends and by my Grandma. Oh, wow. I seriously almost cried when I found them. So thank you for that 15 years later.

  4. Ha! "Bills" -- The importance of punctuation! :) Meanwhile, it's funny because of all of our music is completely combined here (which is crazy because we have zero overlap in musical taste), but the books still get separated into "Bill's" and mine. Also... Bill has less than one shelf of books, which seems nuts. Oh, wait -- plus all of the hockey books in that prime real estate in the built-ins around the fireplace! :)

  5. Oh, and regarding the recipe box -- I bought mine about 5 years ago. Guess I really liked that style! (Bought yours, then bought mine 10 years later -- ha.)

    And... I love your recipe story. That was *exactly* my intent with that shower plan (not to make you cry -- just to have a nice long-standing recipe library...)

  6. OMG. Check these out -- the US-shaped bookcase?! WANT!

  7. Maybe we need a page on this blog where we just collect links to awesome bookcase displays... cause I see awesome stuff all the time.

    Here's a roundup of beautiful bookcases that you can "make yourself" (with, you know... tools and skills) (and a workshop) (and free time...) But still. Note the very dressed up Billy! (3rd one down)

    And this post title cracked me up -- here are ideas to "sex up your shelves." Hahahahaha. Basically: Paint and knicknacks.

    In news of my bookshelves, I have been sick in bed for the past 4 days (UGH) so I have spent a lot of time staring at them. When I have gotten up to take meds and use the loo, I have also started shuffling the books by color. And... I. Love. It. We'll see what happens the first time I need to find a book, but honestly... my library is not that big. And with my somewhat random-ass previous organization (including the category "pretty" as one of my categories...), I'm not sure this will make it that much more difficult to find books.

    Two things have also come about through shuffling: 1. More culling aaaaand... 2. Eying my TBR shelf and thinking, "Well, if I read that book, I can put it with the other red ones!" so maybe this will help me read more of my TBR books?!

    Do you listen to the podcast Literary Disco? They asked people to share their "shelfies" with them on Twitter (that hashtag will get you more than just books, but scroll and you'll see 'em). And even while they said in one breath, "There's nothing to be ashamed of -- at least you're reading!" In the next breath they said, "I can't believe how many people have the Twilight books!" Well, I have the Twilight books, so I can't see posting a photo of my shelves online -- I can't handle the judgment. (The first three books really were charming -- you were into them too! Perhaps I could just get rid of the 4th one and pretend it never happened?)

    Anywho, I'd love to show you my color-organized bookcases when it's finished, but perhaps via a private message (or you could come visit!) because when people post theirs online, commenters always seem to come back with "Obviously, the person who arranges their books by color is not a true reader!" and, even though we are the only ones here, I don't want any grief.

  8. Observation: I have very few purple books.

    Like... 5.


    Also... my bookcases are in absolute chaos right now because I really should not be hauling books around when I am recovering from illness. So I keep doing it one little bit at a time. Bill hears me and he's all "What are you doing in there?!" "Nothing! Nooothing!" Back to bed.

  9. Also... completely re-arranging my books is like having a brand-new library of books. I can't believe it. Even though I've got a ways to go, I am already so excited by it. It's like getting new books!

  10. Yes, rearranging books is super fun.

    I'm going to look for purple books for you now. Maybe they just don't make that many?

    I get to bring all my "embarrassing" YA books to work and dump them off on my students, so they aren't on my shelves at home. Lol.

    I'm going to check out those links.

    1. I think they just don't make that many purple books. Check out this Google image search of bookcases sorted by color. Not a ton of purple!

      Swap out the "embarrassing" YA books for your poetry books at work -- bring those back home!

      Yesterday night, I made the radical decision to combine *all* books (fiction, non-fiction, reference) (except, oddly... graphic novels still stand on their own. What? Why? We'll see.) Anywho... I am loving the very distinctive Chicago Manual of Style in with the rest of the oranges!

      Also, Bill's book have joined the rest. Except I think that the beer-making books are going to move to the living room. Reference where we use it -- first floor!

  11. Well, if you wanna just go "all in" on getting lost in Bookcase Madness, go ahead and check out aaaaallll of the posts tagged "bookcases" on AT.

    One bookcase trend I have never gotten into: Hanging a picture on the front of the bookcase (as pictured in that "sexy" post above. That just seems like an accident waiting to happen.

    But knickknacks, fun bookends, sorting by color? Gimme!

    PS: I have now filled 2.5 file boxes full of books to donate. My "reorganizing" is turning into a major purge. All travel books are GONE.

  12. OH MAN! I totally missed an opportunity while I have been re-arranging my shelves! Well, at least someone else did it. (Click that -- you must. It's awesome.)

    Aaaaand... we probably actually could straight-up devote an entire page to bookcase chatter on our blog. For reals.

    1. That video. OMG.

      Meanwhile...I was just today thinking that this could be its own page. It's going to be one we are constantly talking about, so why not? Haha. It never ceases to amaze me how we can still be so in sync.

    2. It's like we're lifelong best friends or something!! :)