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ande
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#9: Our buddies, our shelves

[ Edited ]
I don’t know what goes on in your house when it comes to reading and storing all the books and reading material, but it’s an ongoing challenge in mine. I often feel like a farmer who has to constantly plant, keep everything in nice even rows, weed, rotate crops and harvest. I am sent manuscripts, galleys, advanced reading copies. They come to me in the mail, FedEx, UPS and electronically. Then there are all the books I haul home from the various publishing conferences I attend. Not to mention all the review copies sent to me when I was an editor at a very large metro newspaper and a national magazine. And I do buy books, too.

Look, it is great getting lots of free books, so I’m not complaining even if it sounds like it. But I must be vigilant. I was a journalist for many years before I was the editorial director of the Literary Ventures Fund and my newspaper and periodical reading habits are intact. Basically, I’ll read anything. Unlike most Americans we still have two newspapers delivered every morning. And I know that my eyes automatically wander to anything with printed words on it. I was one of those nutty kids that read the encyclopedia cover to cover. So I have watch my addiction, keep everything moving and recycle, recycle, recycle.

But it gets worse: My husband has a huge archive –- and I mean archive –- of CDs and LPs. Why not put all that on an iPod and/or computer? Not going to happen. He is a longtime music critic, record producer, NPR radio announcer as well as the curator of one of the most highly regarded jazz archives in the US (though he has written about, programmed an/or hosted music shows on every type of music aside from opera and classical). He thinks music sounds “cold” when played through a computer. He also needs to have access to all this music and all the books on music to do his work.

Sound scary? The good news is we have the space -- and the concrete floors -- to house all of this. The key is organizing everything on or in the right kind of shelves and drawers (the latter is only way to go with CDs when you have as many as we do).

But back to the books. I got a big box the other day and put all sorts of books in it to take to a women’s homeless shelter -- and you should do the same. There were lots of goodies in there -- old stuff, new stuff, treasured volumes that deserved a new audience, serious stuff, funny stuff. I was pretty ruthless. But I’m getting good at knowing in my gut what I would regret handing off. The key is to keep pruning and keep it all moving. It also helps to have a friend who moves a lot and always creates new shelving that she needs to fill. I once sent her 18 boxes of books when I was leaving that aforementioned magazine job.

So tell me, Book Explorers. How do you keep the bedside pile from toppling over? Where and how do you store your books? Do you keep books forever or keep them moving? And what do you do with them when it’s time to go (please don’t tell me you throw them out). Is this a challenge/problem for you, too?

Ande

Message Edited by ande on 02-05-2008 03:06 PM
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LizzieAnn
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Re: #9: Our buddies, our shelves

I understand the challenge of storing books. I'm just now doing some re-arranging & re-juggling trying to fit in more books - and I just added another bookshelf recently! I'm now contemplating putting books 2 deep - but I hate not being able to see those behind. One shelf is a bit higher than the others so I'm considering adding some kind of riser behind the front row of books so that I can at least see the tops of the other books; maybe even list the books behind on a card that I can keep on top of the front row.

I'm very glad to hear that you're not complaining about getting free books!! :smileyhappy: Whenever I get a gift certificate for B&N, I jump with joy!! And spend it immediately. It's also nice to hear that I wasn't the only one reading encyclopedias as a child. We had both the World Book Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica in our house - whenever I didn't have a new book to read, I'd pop a volume off the shelf. It's not a common habit. I also about 2-3 feet worth of record albums (I have weeded those out over the years) & 8 record boxes of 45's (Remember those? Both the 45s & those nifty little boxes that stored 50 of them!) I just can't get rid of them.

Every so often I do get rid of books - simply because I have to. I never throw a book out unless it's really damaged or falling apart, I usually pass them on to others (especially my daughter). But I read so many that I enjoy that I just can't get rid of that I'm always trying to figure out how to store them. I even have an old single dresser that has old paperbacks lined up in the drawers. This is great, by the way, as I stand with the spines facing up so I can easily read the titles.

I've finally decided I'm going to have to catalog all these books & mark down where they are so that I don't have to go from room to room to find them. :smileyvery-happy:
Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
Melissa_W
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Re: #9: Our buddies, our shelves

I have two pack-rat genes (read: one pack-rat married another pack-rat and had three more little pack-rats; the whole family is terrible). I have to force myself to be ruthless and occasionally go through my stuff.

CDs and DVDs I no longer want are taken to FYE (a music store); I get store credit for them (FYE sells used media, too, so it's a good deal). The things FYE won't take I'll take to a local consignment store.

My younger brother gets first dibs on any books I'm getting rid of (a cheap way for him to get new books). After that, I'll shop the ones in decent condition to one of the local used bookstores. Everything else is taken to the "Friends of the Public Library Sale" - this is the only way I can get rid of old textbooks. I was never one who sold the textbooks back to the school bookstore right away (the only time I did that was a calculus text) because I would need the book as a reference for a later class. By the time I didn't need the book anymore it was too old :smileysad:
Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
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IBIS
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Re: #9: Our buddies, our shelves

I totally understand the book pack-rat's dilemma. I have so many books that my husband wonders if there are any books that I haven't read. I tell him that authors are alive and well, and writing more and more. I will never catch up.

I donate my books to the public library, my church which has annual booksales, as well second-hand bookstores, for which I get credit for MORE books!

A worthy cause is HANDS ACROSS THE WATERS. I highly recommend donating your books to charity---they're great for shelters where women have no reading resources readily available. Here is their link:

http://www.surplusbooksforcharity.org/where.php

You can find the drop-off nearest you. So convenient.

IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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mwinasu
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Re: #9: Our buddies, our shelves

I have a book room, but when it gets too cluttered I clean it out by giving some of them away. I also buy and sell old books at the local old book store. And sometimes I use books for my art.
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ande
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Re: #9: Our buddies, our shelves

How interesting. Would you tell us about the art you create from your books?

Ande
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Jessica
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Re: #9: Our buddies, our shelves

When we were turning our home office into a nursery, I got rid of 100 books. One Hundred! I really thought I was doing something amazing.

I usually just put them in a box on the stoop and let my neighbors take what they want. After a few days, if anything is left I take it to the Salvation Army down the street.

Granted, I still feel like I have a million books (one of the perks of the job!). I vowed this year that once a month I'd put 5 books on the stoop. It's not much, but it's a start...

(And really, it's not going to dent the # of books in my house, since I tend to bring home that many books every week. But at least it may stop the population explosion. Or we could just move to a bigger place. Hmmmmm....)
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Maria_H
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Re: #9: Our buddies, our shelves

I love library and stoop sales for their cookbooks. In past summers, when weekends were spent away from home, I invariably come across a book sale at a town library, sometimes held on the lawn. I have picked up entire cookbook series from Time-Life and Sunset and Better Homes & Gardens. My favorites are old ring-bound recipe collections, published by local churches (or women’s groups or rotary clubs), containing recipes submitted by contributors from across the community. It’s a great snapshot of the time and place. I am unwilling to even consider including those in the annual weed and purge of books.

Newer cookbooks do not interest me as much as older ones. Their existence seems, to me, to be so hard-won. That a book issued in the 60s by the dairy association containing a recipe that calls for bananas, dried fish, paprika, and cream, deserves a place on my bookshelf. I don’t normally cook from cookbooks or recipes (thank goodness! See dairy recipe above.). I keep them because they attest to the aspiration of the time – they are like history books to me. And am happy to rid my shelves of newer books that do not serve that purpose, and those usually go to friends and neighbors and finally our local library.

So, to answer your question: For cookbooks, we have a large two-sided bookshelf in an alcove outside the kitchen. You can double-stack and access the books from both sides!


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ande
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Re: #9: Our buddies, our shelves

Maria:

You can't have too many jello mold receipes! FYI: The very smart curator at the rare book archives at NYU obtained the cookbook collection of a long time food editor. He's a foodie and knows that all kinds of cookbooks (especially the ones you like) are priceless chronicles of American history. Lots of very basic ones came out during the Depression when people could no longer afford to pay cooks.
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mwinasu
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Re: #9: Our buddies, our shelves

There are lots of things you can do with books. You can drill a hole through them then stack them and turn them into lamps. You can decopage almost anthing. For instance I covered the door into my bedroom with Lady Chatterly's Lover. Hard backed books make great shelves and purses. And then there is my favorite - the altered book. If you don't know what that is, take a look at the book thief or The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana. Books are fun.
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BookWoman718
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Re: #9: Our buddies, our shelves

I love your ideas for unusual uses for books!
My daughter-in-law, whose taste is very minimalist - her color palette is like taupe, grey, stone, chocolate, black - tried nicely to cover the wince when I had accent walls in my house painted pumpkin and sage green. I can only imagine the reaction were I to use the decoupaged pages of Lady Chatterley's Lover on my bedroom doors!

I pass books along sometimes through the BookCrossing website. And trade them through PaperBookSwap.com (although I have accummulated numerous credits from giving away more than I ever ask for.) In desperation, I tote them off to our great local used book store, and what they don't want, I donate to my local library, which keeps a few shelves of books people can take for $1. And I bring books that might appeal to my book club friends to some of our meetings, where I just give them away. I read so much, and can't resist buying the new stuff, that I always have more than enough to share. It's just a matter of deciding what I can bear to part with.
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Re: #9: Our buddies, our shelves

We have just bought what will be "Our last bookcase". No more room. You're right about constant vigilence. My current system... Literature in the living room. History in the bedroom. Biographies and everything else in the basement. Silly books that I buy on a whim and will never read again go to charity. I try not to buy too many of those. At the moment I am reading The Odyssey and The Republic for a Great Books program. On my nightstand Ihave two piles, one for each work. Several translations of each as well as books about the books. My problem, at the moment, is keeping a dictionary handy. The ones that are big enough to have what I need are too big to keep on the nightstand. We used to have a giant dictionary open in the dining room at all times but that was for reference during conversations. I need a good dictionary that's not too big so I can use it when I read in bed. Otherwise, the system is working well.

My other problem is how to handle children's books. My three children are grown but I have a 3 year old grandaughter. I have over l000 children's books on shelves, gathering dust. I suppose I should organize them according to age? Or subject? Or should I just give them to her? I am attached to them. They bring back such lovely memories and I'd love for her to feel that when she comes to visit us she's in a wonderland of books. Haven't decided yet, which way to go with those. I'd like to preserve them for all of the grandchildren...
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Re: #9: Our buddies, our shelves

Wow. Lucky grandchildren. :smileyhappy: Maybe you could arrange them by reading level or age so that the books for younger children are on lower shelves and easily accessible and then the ages go up the shelves.



Timbuktu1 wrote:
My other problem is how to handle children's books. My three children are grown but I have a 3 year old grandaughter. I have over l000 children's books on shelves, gathering dust. I suppose I should organize them according to age? Or subject? Or should I just give them to her? I am attached to them. They bring back such lovely memories and I'd love for her to feel that when she comes to visit us she's in a wonderland of books. Haven't decided yet, which way to go with those. I'd like to preserve them for all of the grandchildren...


Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
balletbookworm.blogspot.com
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Timbuktu1
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Re: #9: Our buddies, our shelves

that makes sense. Lower shelves for easier books. Right now they're arranged more my subject matter, science books, poetry, etc. Of course some are just shoved in where they fit! One of these days I'll tackle this. Right now... too much to read! ;-)
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Timbuktu1
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Re: #9: Our buddies, our shelves

Where did you say you live?
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Maria_H
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Re: #9: Our buddies, our shelves



ande wrote:
Maria: The very smart curator at the rare book archives at NYU obtained the cookbook collection of a long time food editor. He's a foodie and knows that all kinds of cookbooks (especially the ones you like) are priceless chronicles of American history. Lots of very basic ones came out during the Depression when people could no longer afford to pay cooks.




Cecily Brownstone's collection, right? Sigh...yes, I remember reading about that and thinking how lucky NYU is to have been the recipient, but not so surprising since they offer graduate programs in food studies.


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ande
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Re: #9: Our buddies, our shelves

I believe that's the one!
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Crystal8i8
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Re: #9: Our buddies, our shelves

Well, i must say that any good reader has to have alot of room.  Right now I have 3 totally full bookshelves in my bedroom (one just for all of the Stephen King novels, and that is overflowing!!!), and one in the living room.  My mother also has one of her own in her bedroom.  The bookshelf in the living room was actually given to me by some friends who just moved to Maine and all their books they didn't want manage to fit on that shelf.  I have piles upon piles of books lined right up as far as they will go before they fall over. 
 
Mom and I have been debating having bookshelves custom made to fit along the living room wall.  We want them to be on casters so that if we have a problem with something in the bathroom wall that shares the space, we can just roll one end out.  We are both very avid readers, but my father is the only one who isn't.
 
I do buy books, I have them given to me, I borrow, & beg to get the book I really want to read.  I am even pressuring my mother to finish her current book (The Secret Life of Bees,) so I can read it. 
 
Trading, borrowing and lending goes on between my church (which has a Stop & Swap room...it's free) and friends my mother and I share that have the reading joneses like we do.  I also have a list on my facebook page that tells my friends what I own, what I've read and what I'd like to read (over 600 books strong and climbing every day) so if they want to borrow or lend they just let me know...
 
For me getting rid of books is something I do with alot of regret.  I never know if I might actually want to reread that book (like I'd ever have time considering the amount I currently have going.)  Half the books I've read that end up in boxes to go out, my mother takes out and puts on her bookshelf anyway, because she hasn't yet read them. 
 
I still loan out to my friends from Maine when they come visit or I go visit ususally a dozen books at a time.
 
I know I've said this in a different post but I carry a book around constantly, and whenever I have a moment (even just a commercial break on TV) I read.
The Butterfly Girl 8i8

"Children aren't coloring books. You don't get to fill them with your favorite colors." - The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
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Happy_Mutant
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Re: #9: Our buddies, our shelves

I’m compulsive about keeping books. I have books I’ve had since childhood, and it just seems impossible to part with them. Occasionally, I come up with more creative ways to store them: I had shelves made that fit under my bed, supporting it, and the bed is fairly high up, making room for lots of storage underneath. But I also know I need to be more organized, somehow.

This idea is really great: "I also have a list on my facebook page that tells my friends what I own, what I've read and what I'd like to read (over 600 books strong and climbing every day) so if they want to borrow or lend they just let me know..."

All the collectors I know want more of what they collect (books, music or movies) but collectors are the hardest people to buy for, because our friends don’t know what we have. My best friend has thousands of movies. I get him books about movies, but I don’t get him movies. No way any of my friends can surprise each other with science fiction,because we all have so much that the guessing game is too dicey.

I did come across a potential solution that I like: there’s a site that lets people make and share lists, free. You put together your lists of what you have and invite friends to share theirs with you. I have been looking at software for collectors, and this is a bit different. It doesn’t involve a lot of information about each book, but the site does fill in a lot of stuff to help with the drudgery of building lists (like you type in an ISBN and it fills in the rest!). The site is Groqit.com.

So if I can get my friend Steve to inventory all his movies, and share his “have” lists, and maybe a wishlist, I can get him movies sometimes. As long as both of us keep our lists up to date, it should work.

Another problem I have is duplicates. In my recent efforts to get organized I kept stumbling across a second copy of somehting – I have one book in THREE versions. It isn’t just me either: I never set out to collect movies, but my friend Steve keeps giving me his duplicate purchases (and tapes when he replaces one with a DVD) so now I have a movie library. And that gift-library has two copies of Topsy Turvy and a couple of other films in it!

Do others have this problem?
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ande
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Re: #9: Our buddies, our shelves

Thanks for the tips. Duplicate books: take them to your local homeless shelter. A book is a highly transportable and treasured item that many of us take for granted. Duplicate movies: Your local senior center would welcome them greatly as would many hospitals or hospices.
 
Ande