After my month of not worrying about anything organizational, it was a bit tough to come back to the game, especially when my spare bedroom looked like this:

It is in moments like this that I know I should be mortified to post some of these “before” shots, but one of my number-one blogging rules for myself is to try and be as honest as possible, even if it seems embarrassing.

So there you have it: solid evidence that I am a disgusting human being who is a little too comfortable living in chaos and slight squalor.

If you actually take the time to study the picture above, you might discover that about a third of that mess is due to the books lying all about (that box in the middle of the floor? Full of them). Even though we already owned 5 bookshelves, it became apparent about 6 months ago that we were going to need another one, and pronto. Of course, with my focus being on the downstairs portion of our apartment, I just never got around to it.

Until this week, that is.

I toyed around with the idea of counting all the books we had this week as I was going to be sorting through them anyway, but I couldn’t bring myself to it. Let’s just do a lowball estimate of about 750 books, and you can imagine the kind of trouble we were about to get ourselves into.

But first things first–the to-do list:

*Gather up all books from all corners of the house (with the exception of the books that you are currently reading, which probably tend to follow you around)
*Devise an organizational system that best fits your needs. For some, just organizing the volumes from tallest to shortest might be best (esp. if you’re focused more on aesthetics than anything else). For us, the scheme that made the most sense was one that divided our massive book collection into categories of genre. We toyed with the idea of doing them alphabetically within each genre, but that seemed like overkill, so we just stuck with lumping similar types of sub-genres together (such as books in a series, books by the same author, books on the same topic, etc.).
*Take all books off your shelves and divide them into your new organizational schema. For us, that meant putting them in one of the following piles:
-Classics
-Reference (dictionaries, citation guides, etc.)
-Religious
-General Adult Fiction
-YA Fiction
-Children’s Fiction
-Picture Books
-Fantasy/Sci Fi (Matt’s collection surprisingly needed an entire bookshelf to itself)
-Books on writing/reading
-Books on education/teaching
-Textbooks
-Journals
-Yearbooks
-Nonfiction (with subgenres of biography/memoir, self-help, etc.)
*You’ll find while sorting through your books that you might have some duplicates, some books you don’t wish to keep, and some books that need to be returned to their rightful owners. Make sure each of these has a stack all of its own (apart from the stacks that will be filed away into the shelves). Any books you no longer wish to keep need to be donated, recycled, or given back to whom they rightfully belong.
*Dust bookshelves thoroughly while they are completely empty
*Stack books back onto the shelves
*Reconsider how many knicknacks you allow back on

Because this room was such a massive mess to tackle all at once, you’ll notice that my “after” pictures have the words “Phase One” on them. This is because, as you’ll notice, the room is still pretty junky. Basically, the only thing I worked on this week was the bookshelves.

In weeks to come, I’ll be tackling other areas of this room, starting with that desk down there:

Some better Before shots:

And After:

This Week’s Quick Stats:
# of Items Tossed/Donated: 20
# of Items Left to Toss/Donate Before Dec. 31st: 235
Money Spent: $30 (on bookshelf)

The funniest thing we discovered this week? Apparently, going through all of our books just made us want to buy MORE books (usually, having to organize things makes me want to buy FEWER).

What a strange phenomenon. We must be like book freaks or something.

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