Monday, May 16, 2011

My Re-Organized Shelves

I've been telling all of you that I've been in the homestretch of downsizing my library and re-organizing my shelves. I have-- make that had-- 27 bookcases in the house. In June of 2008, I had 6,000 books. Now in May of 2011, I have 26 bookcases and 2,000 books. Yes, I could pare them down even further, but right now I'm happy with the new status quo.

I've been threatening you with before and after photos, and now it's time to deliver. I don't think it will be much of a hardship for you bookaholics. After all, we can never get enough of looking at someone else's shelves, can we? Let's get started on the tour! (If you want a closer view, just click on the photos to view them in their original sizes.)

Living room bookcases Before
These bookcases line one wall of the living room. In the photo above, they housed all my biographies and most of my history and other non-fiction books. This photo isn't recent and does not show bulging shelves with books tucked on top. At one point, my To-Be-Read shelves (hereafter to be referred to as "TBR") overflowed and took over the end bookcase closest to the camera. Want to see what they look like now?

Living room bookcases After
These same bookcases now house all my TBR books. There is at least six to eight inches of space on each shelf (usually more), and since I'm of an age to no longer enjoy standing on my head to look at book spines, there are no books on the bottom shelves. Let me tell you, it's wonderful to have all those TBR books in one place! Here's another, more head-on, shot:

My "new" TBR shelves

Discovered during The Purge
Ever wonder where all your bookmarks go? I have a shoebox-sized plastic container that houses my bookmark collection, and after purging my library, I think I'm going to have to get a larger storage box. Look at all the ones I found!

TBR bookcase Before

Although I couldn't find a recent photo of this huge bookcase in its guise as part of my TBR shelves, here it is anyway when it used to hold Non-Fiction.

TBR shelves Before

 These bookcases to the right are behind the daybed in the living room. As you can see from the photo, they're all gussied up for Christmas-- and they also show that my TBR books are in no danger of running low.

Want to see these same shelves now? Of course you do!

TBR After

This bookcase now houses all my books on Arizona (to the left from top to bottom), and books on other favorite U.S. locations on the right. The very bottom shelf on the right holds books on various Illinois counties that are over 100 years old.

TBR shelves After

The shelves that are behind the daybed do have some books on top, but the shelves now hold some of the antique china and glass that have either been in the family for generations or that I've collected. I love having these pieces out where they can be seen and appreciated-- and yes, I have been known to use them!

On to the library!

The library has been home to all my fiction books, as well as geneaology and photo binders, my books on horses that I've collected since I was a child, and military history. My mother collected books on the American Civil War, and I collect books on World War I and the battles in which my grandfather fought during World War II. I'll just let you take a look at all the Before photos:

The library (fiction) Before

The library (fiction) Before
The library (non-fiction) Before

The library (geneaology and non-fiction) during The Purge

Are you ready to see what the library looks like now? I'll bet you are! Take a look!

The library After
AN EMPTY BOOKCASE!!! (Are you over the shock yet? Take a minute....)  That bookcase is no longer in the house, and the space will soon have an upright freezer in it. You see... I'm devoting more time to cooking and knew I needed one. I know. It's not fair. First an empty bookcase, and now the person who freely admits that her dream house wouldn't have a kitchen is getting a freezer so she has more on hand to cook. (Must have been those blasted Percocet!)

The bookcases to the right of the pantry door house my books on horses, the military history (sans 99.9% of the Civil War books), and my books on art and fashion.

The library After
All the bookcases you see here are non-fiction. The bookcase just to the right of the bear in the chair (Dr. Seuss, anyone?) hold all my geneaology and photography binders. The rest you see hold biographies and history. Following the lead of the bookcases in the living room, there are no books on the bottom shelves. Instead I have more glassware on display.

The library After
From the tall bookcase in the back corner all the way to the camera are my fiction books. I did put books on the bottom shelves, but I think you'll agree that there are a lot fewer than in the Before photos! One thing has already changed in this photo: the end table has changed. I didn't feel like going out and taking a new one!

Well, what do you think of the transformation? The house feels a lot lighter, and I feel much better that there are many, many books that have either been swapped and/or donated and are now out being read and enjoyed. I'll never be without a physical library, but I do appreciate having the space to display other things that I also enjoy.


  1. I'm speechless at your organisational skills. I don't have nearly that many books at home to organise but I'm very impressed by your categorising and logical organising. Thanks for sharing

  2. Cathy - I am so very impressed! Wow! It all looks terrific. I'm so glad you shared with us :-).

  3. You've done a great job, one that I admire. I am worried though that you are getting a freezer so that you can cook more. Are you sure they didn't give you a transplant of some kind during your surgery?

  4. I'm impressed with your purge, but I was hoping you were going to fill the space up with more books!

  5. I'm impressed with your self-discipline in cleaning out so many books. But, if you're like me, the shelves will fill up again...

  6. Bernadette-- You're welcome. I inherited a very strong Librarian Gene. ;)

    Margot-- Thanks!

    Barbara-- Get out of my brain... I've been wondering the same thing!!! (You made me laugh loud enough to wake Denis, by the way!)

    Kathy-- Early days yet, but I really don't think that's going to happen.

    Debbie-- The TBR shelves, yes, but I doubt that the rest of them will.

  7. First lets just say I have shelf envy. I would love to have all of those bookcases at my house. Your home is beautiful and you did an amazing job of paring down. I love that you have room to add new books. Happy reading and enjoy your breathing room.

  8. Thank you so much, Jennifer!

  9. Hm. I think those shelves look a bit empty ;)

    Or perhaps the grapes are just a tad sour?

    But no matter what, thank you for the tour.

  10. OK, this was great. The only thing was I couldn't make the pictures big enough to read the spines. And what do you mean that you are too old to stand on your head and shelve on the bottom? LOL

    Seriously, I love your after pictures. Your collections are lovely and I think it's good to have a little space to show off your goodies - and I mean not just books. Cooking more is good too. I'm proud of you for releasing so many books to others that will love them and I thank you for showing us all your hard work. And I know it was hard work indeed. Ask any library staff member (and I know you've been one).

    Thanks for sharing your reorg with us. You're inspiring!

  11. Wow! 6000 to 2000 - that's amazing! I've been trying to eliminate those that I know in my heart of hearts that I will not read. That's as close to purging as I can get. :) Good for you in meeting your goal. They all look fabulous.

  12. First of all I am drooling over here with the amount of bookshelves you have - that is just awesome! Nice work culling down all your shelves. You did great!

  13. I'm a big shelf voyeur :) You know what empty shelfs mean? An excuse to buy more books!

  14. Dorte-- You're welcome. Who knows? One of these days I may get a wild hair and purge even more. Right now I can't say that I want to!

    Kay-- You're going to have to come to the house for a visit, aren't you? :)

    Joy-- For the most part, that's what I did... purge the books I knew I was never going to read again. That and donating books that I'd inherited from my grandmother and mother that I had no interest in. (I still have the cream of their books, though!)

    Leah-- Thanks!

    Alexandra-- It might very well come down to either choosing to buy more books or being able to take a trip to the UK. The UK will probably win!

    Vanda-- I don't know if that shows approval or horror! LOL

  15. Whoa! You put my library to shame! I applaud you for having the tenacity to even tackle such a big project as reorganizing your books.

  16. Lola-- "Organized" and "stubborn" are two words that have been used to describe me for years! LOL

  17. O.M.G. I was so busy drooling over the bookcases way at the top of this post, I almost forgot to read the rest... I'm in awe of your re-org, too, I'd be drowned in books if I had as many as you (still) do! :)

  18. Drey-- Fortunately I have a good-sized house with only two people living in it!

  19. I think it looks great! I know how hard it can be to get rid of books, so kudo's to you. I've been purging too...but alas so far I've only sent off 15 books to paperbackswap members. I have many more in boxes waiting to be donated though.

  20. Kris-- Stick with it. I know you'll succeed!


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