Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ How do you store your books?

Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom

Books are a collecting weakness of many people. I know that in my early 20s I dreamed of having a library – ideally one with a rolling ladder. Then I moved every year for four or five years and put that foolish idea behind me. Books are heavy!

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I’ve been a library user my whole life. I remember when I was a girl going to a particularly library that kept the Nancy Drew novels separate from the rest of the books – heaven! And I have clear memories of Library Period in elementary school. Back then, I read biographies of famous females. Annie Oakley, Mary Todd Lincoln, Abigail Adams, Florence Nightingale, Amelia Earhart, Marie Curry – These were the ladies (along with my mother) who showed me what a smart, determined female could accomplish in this world. I even have a library card for the Wyoming, Iowa library (population: not a lot) where my extended family is based.

Why even buy books, especially new books? I’ve got to tell you, that’s a question that I reflect on frequently, as I am far from the only reader in my circle of friends and acquaintances. I am, however, one of the heaviest library users. I buy books, sometimes new and often used, for my daughters, especially the eldest one, because she is a voracious reader and reads and re-reads whatever is on her shelf. She has several series that she enjoys, and we have the whole sets of these (Ranger’s Apprentice, Gregor the Overlander, Harry Potter, Warrior Cats, Persey Jackson, etc.)

As for myself, the books I own fall into a couple of categories: medical (espeically diabetes), dictionaries and reference books, Spanish and German language books, gardening and the natural world, religion, and novels that I enjoyed enough that I wanted to own then and knew I would reread them. (Almost all of these were first read as library books, and I decided they were so terrific, I had to own them.) Dan has a lot of computer, science, and programming, which are stored in his office. These are tough because most of them cannot be checked out of the library and are fairly expensive because of their low print runs, but their usefulness passes quickly as technology rapidly changes. Dan tries to think hard before he makes a purchase. I think he’s only bought two books this year. (He also subscribes to a number of science magazines. These are passed to a science-minded friend when Dan is done. When the friend has read them, they go to the free magazine exchange shelf at the library.)

Nonetheless, whether you own lots of books or few, you undoubtedly own some, and there are various ways of storing them, which might be more and less useful to you.


First up is my system. I mentioned the various categories of books that I own above. They are stored, like with like, on the shelves. The left hand book shelf is all non-fiction. The right hand shelf is fiction. The bottom two shelves are the kids’ overflow books, primarily series, the third shelf is my books, and the top one is Dan’s small science fiction and fantasy collection. When I buy a book, it has to fit onto the shelf with its peers. If there isn’t room, then someone’s got to go. My system isn’t necessarily one in, one out, but there has to be room.

Cindy's Library

By Color

Colour coordinated book storing system

My friend Corinna has a beautiful and artistically decorated house that includes a shelf of books organized by color. I found this so fascinating that Simple Saturday’s post will be dedicates to what Corinna told me about the whys and hows of a color-coordinated organization system.

Other systems

Alphbatically by author

From most to least liked (This was my eldest daughter’s idea, and she’s sure she could do it on her shelves. I know I could not on mine.)

Chronologically from childhood favorites to books on menopause and carrying for aging parents

Using Library Thing or other on-line software, although this is more geared to helping to keep track of what you own rather than how it is organized on the shelf.

A Kindle Instead?

Do not flame me! I don’t get Kindles. Ok, I know what they’re about (download lots of books, portable, easy to read screens, long battery life, some libraries now have Kindle downloads), but I don’t understand why they’re needed, except possibly by those who travel extensively and for long periods of time. Perhaps it’s because I don’t buy books to begin with, so buying them instantly on the Kindle is no advantage to me.

I wondered if e-readers were more eco-friendly than traditional books. I suspected not. Kindle owners claim that they just bought the Kindle and now they’re buying downloads. Yeah, but do you know how much energy goes into making one of those (and all the electronics we love)? I heard on NPR last week that half the energy involved in the World Wide Web is devoted to the making of the equipment. And I know that people will be replacing their Kindle every few years. Electronics come and go in fashion and utility, and Amazon is certainly invested in making a better Kindle so you’ll want to trade your old one in.

On the other hand, the manufacturing of paper is a dirty business, and books are heavy to ship. Turns out that there is no clear answer to this question, and if you want to read all about it, I recommend you explore the website Eco Libris.

My personal bottom line on a Kindle? Any tool that only does one thing is not as good as a tool that does sevearl things. I’d buy an iPad or similar devise. Tech Crunch outlines your choices.

My personal bottom line? Visit your local library and if you must own it, buy it used at your local book reseller or from

Today’s Declutter Item

Since we are on the subject of books why not make today’s declutter item this ear mounted reading light. I never wake up in the middle of the night hankering for a good read. Usually it is the bathroom I’m needing and then I just go back to sleep. So I don’t really need this light cluttering up the bedside drawer. Off to the thrift store with you little light.

Ear mounted reading light

Something I Am Grateful For Today

Today I am grateful that my house is clean and tidy and all my other chores are out of the way, even the ironing. Now I can devote the next five days to enjoying my parents visit. 

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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  1. I am a college student who does travel a lot so I am looking into getting a kindle and currently use the kindle app for my computer to do a lot of my reading.

    One point that might help those who don’t buy many books, Kindle books can now be checked out of many libraries and it’s a super easy process (at least here in NW Ohio). For me it’s the best of both worlds, I’m using the library, getting the books I want, and there aren’t boxes of books that need to be moved and cared for every year/semester.

    I also understand not wanting a tool that only does one thing, but my eyes hurt after a day of working on the computer for school and reading on a screen like a kindle (I’ve borrowed my friend’s several times) doesn’t cause that pain, where as something like an iPad would, since it’s backlit just like a computer. iPads are awesome, but if you want an ereader, it’s not the way I’d go.

    • Hi Auriel,
      I am sure Cindy will respond to your comment but I noticed this is your first comment and wanted to chime in to say welcome to 365 Less Things and thank you for dropping in to leave your opinion on the subject of Kindles. It is very timely actually because my husband is thinking of buying one.

      We are taking a trip to America next year so my husband ordered a couple of Lonely Planet guides over the internet. He was shocked at the size of the tiny print in the books. Trying to read print like that would put strain on anyone’s eyes never mind someone who is in the late forties and wears glasses. This situation has encouraged him even more to consider the kindle because with it you can increase the size of the font.

      Like you we can also download ebooks from the local library.

  2. oh books. I love them. I don’t think I could use a Kindle either unless I was long-term traveling. I love the feel and smell of books. It’s so enticing. Given my desire to move again soon, I have come to terms with the amount of books I keep. I cleared off 2 boxes of books! Yay! Now I have 4 boxes under my bed that I need to decide on. Fingers crossed.

  3. Oh I forgot, the reading ear piece light – that’s cool. That would be great for traveling.

  4. Cindy – I enjoyed this post as I’m a book lover too. I’m intrigued by the colour arrangement system to be explained on Saturday. Your reading nook is so inviting.

    Colleen – you made me smile with your comment about your reading light!

  5. I am out of town with my family for a couple of days, so I may be late in responding to what I’m sure will be lots of comments. : ) -Cindy

  6. Oh, Books. My achilles’ heel. I absolutely love them! I have some really big problems decluttering them. But sometimes I just choose five that got to go. I usually pick the five least likely to re-read and least favourite books.

    And, I don’t buy books quite often. I do have a e-reader (Sony) and I haven’t bought a book. On the internet, there are loads of books that are free to download and there are some really great books that can be found.

  7. I tend to always try and borrow from the library first. And I have recently got rid of some big ‘coffee table’ style reference books I have had for 20 yrs plus and not look at for years: that was quite hard to do..what is it about books? Anyway, I am really pleased they are gone now. I could still do with getting rid of more of my own but they are way down the decluttering list. I got rid of the bigs ones so I could re arrange our sitting room so it looked nicer. Their space is now taken my my downsized filing system.
    My hording husband however is passionate about books and has 100’s and hundred’s, many on natural history and agricultural social history but others making homage to passing phrases -art, music etc. I have no hope of him downsizing. My main job is to try and limit the flow in. If I get rid of any of mine I have to do it secretly as he finds the concept of ‘getting rid of abook’ too painful,lol.
    I love the colour storage system!That would suit me.
    Neither of us would get a kindle: I rarely read novels and my husband loves reference books to flick through.

    • Katharine, I don’t know what to tell you about your husband. Try to restrict him to a certian number of bookshelves? He sounds like an academic. One of the symptoms of being an academic is an ever-increasing pile of books. Do you suppose there’s a minimalist college professor anywhere?

      • Yes, he is an academic by nature Cindy, if not profession. We met at a university evening class for adult returners to education.

        Restricting the number of bookshelves just won’t work, as they will end up in piles on the floor instead. I will just have to patiently keep working away at the priciple of downsizing what isn’t used and making occasional breakthroughs, which I can celebrate on here with much song, dancing and general carousing.

        Books create such passion don’t they – 77 replies to this post and rising!

  8. Cindy I WANT that seat of yours 🙂

    We have a bay window in our living room so DH built two sets of floor to ceiling shelves that sit either side from the end of the window recess to the corner. 9 shelves on each side. Right hand side is all fiction, organised by author (sorry, anal English student in me!). Left hand side is all non fiction and the bottom two shelves have the children’s books that aren’t elsewhere.

    All the children have book shelves in their rooms, there is a small bookself on the landing and there are also two book boxes in the playroom, which DH also made, so the children can flick through and pick books by the front cover – like they have in schools. I think this a great way to pick a book and wish I could have their bedroom books that way too but it takes space that we just don’t have up there.

    • Hi LJayne,
      I am like you I could not file my books any other way except by author for fiction and subject for non-fiction. Too many years volunteering in libraries. My daughter would probably like the colour coding idea though. She used to use colour to take notes in school. A teacher once told her to use “the proper” note taking system they had been taught. She told the teacher, if you want me to fail the subject I’ll do it your way otherwise I’ll stick to the method that works for me. She is definitely not a cookie cutter child that’s for sure. I just thought, good for you sticking up for yourself girl. Teachers usually mean well but they aren’t always right, every student is different and learn best in their own way.

      • Don’t the both of you struggle with different heights of your fiction books, by organising by author?

        I once worked for a family who bought books for their holiday home solely on size (so they looked neat in the library) – these were titles they didn’t know/choose… I should have seen the writing on the wall then – these people weren’t at all like me! I resigned a few months later

        • Snosie, that family sounds more like those books were displayed like trophies rather than for reading. In fact I think books are often displayed like trophies even by people who love to read. I really just don’t understand the concept of needing the keep the books unless they are one you intend to read over and over again and even that doesn’t make much sense when it comes to fiction books. Half the fun of reading them is to get to the end to find out what happens.

          Heights of books are of no consequence to me because our whole house has exactly one four feet shelf of books. The bookcase has four such shelves that used to be full of books but they have been decluttered slowly over the last two years.

        • I also organize by author. the height is ok with me because I keep the shelves close together- just over the tallest book. that way I don’t see alot of space on the top of the books and it looks neater!

          • My shelves are the kind that can be adjusted every inch or so, so when I was setting them up for the first time, I adjusted to the largest book in each category. Fixed shelves in Audra’s room are an irritation, though. She still has some large picture books, and they’re about 1/4″ too tall for any of the shelves. The fact that they have to lie down on their sides = instant mess as soon as she tries to pull any of the books out. She’s in fourth grade, though, so even the picture books she still enjoys should be going into long-term storage soon. (Although I think I’ll have to find a permanent home for Pickle Chiffon Pie and The Fabulous Flying Fandinis.)

            I’m on my reading bench right now. It’s fantastic! There’s even a plug located on the lowest shelf in case the lap top need some juice while I’m here. Love it. Just wish there was a little shelf somewhere for my coffee / ice tea.

  9. Also, electronics are one of the worst offenders as far as modern slavery and child labor goes. Some of the metals needed in manufacturing the micro chips are mined in a few places in the world. Like Congo. Blood diamonds became blood gadgets?
    So I’m using my cell phone until it completely breaks down… no iPods, -Pads or whatnots for me.

    • You are correct about the rare metals, and the recycling process is not nearly as perfect as Dell, etc. would like us to believe. Taht said, I will confess that I am very fond of my iPod Touch.

  10. Books are definitely my soft spot….I own more than 400 books (I’ve recently sold about 60 books and about 60 more are to sell).
    The only “physical” organization is between read and to-read books (there is an entire bookshelf fot the latter) but I developed a small web app to track my books, including where they are (I’m a web developer, so it was kind of an exercise to me) 🙂
    I don’t consider going to the library because I mainly read science fiction and fantasy, which are not very easy to find 😀

    • 120 down, 400 still remaining. That’s pretty good decrease for a gal who loves her books. I once read this New Year’s resolution idea: To read a book a month from your own bookshelf. Sounds like maybe that would be a good one for you.

      • And I do it! I read everyday since childhood and everytime i finish a book I immediately pick up another one…the problem is that I also buy lots of books every year 😀

  11. I used to coordinate by colour as well! 😀

    When I moved in with my boyfriend, we changed the system to alphabetically, though, because he wouldn’t necessarily know the colour of each of my books and vice versa.

    For one person it’s one of the best systems, though. (given that you don’t own ONLY white-backed books…)

    Come to think of it, maybe we have lived together with the joined library for long enough now to just start sorting by colour again… 😉

    • Interesting, until I saw Corinna’s wall of books, I’d never seen color coordinated ones. You’ll be interested in her post on Saturday, I imagine.

  12. ahhh, books. I guess its the same like the freezer, for some its absolute nonsense and others cant live without it.

    I love books, I prefer to buy them new, I prefer to keep them. I have always loved books. I can remember those days as a 10 year old when I saved up all my pocket money to go to the local book-shop and buy the next book of enid blytons girls series. I sometimes started reading already in the shop, because I couldnt wait 😉

    I am now studying sociology, and I have to read a lot. Thing is, scientific literature is so expensive, I cant afford all the books I would love to have. So I either borrow the texts I need from the library, or I try to find articles online. The way we get literature in seminars is by so called readers, texts that are copied and binded in a book-like thing, easy to carry to uni and easy to work with (because you can actually scrabble into them without feeling you are ruining a book).
    So those few books I have on my shelf are mostly dictionaries, scientific literature and a few fiction novels.
    The rest however I carry to my mums place so that she can store them in our library that was formerly my dad’s office. Sadly she doesnt like sorting them, which I am trying to do everytime I am there, but space is scarce and I have the feeling we need to get rid of a few… (I will tackle that during the christmas holidays)
    She collects childrens books and literature on education for her job, while I am really into all sorts of fiction. There are also very old books that came from my grandparents, it inlcudes the bible in arabic (from 19th century, such a pretty thing!) or a huge book about the king in our hometown. Impressive and very fascinating things and I can spend hours just browsing, forgetting the time…
    We store them in the IVAR Ikea system, that means that you can decide on the size of your shelf yourself, which leads in our case to sorting books by size. More the less. because they do also get sorted by topic and theme.
    what I find important: books need to be right at the front of the shelf. No things in front, not a lot of things in between, just books. that way its not getting really dusty. there isnt a lot of space between books and shelfs. from time to time I check whats behind them, but usually there is just a book thats been pushed in the back.

    My cousin is sorting books by colour. I do consider myself a visual person, and I get why she does that. but I cant stand that a dan brown novel is between the Gaudí illustration and a cook book. thats wrong. just wrong.

    for the e-books and kindles and iPads and all sorts. I try to keep the amount of reading on a screen as small as possible, I dont like it and I feel I have to do it already so much. I am grateful that I dont have to write papers on a typewriter, but this development of modern scientific reading behaviour is too much for me. I like the feeling of paper in my hands. (and yes I am aware that I am not doing the planet a favour)

    • Sounds like you have your collection well in hand and are on your way to helping your mother with hers. I’ve found that when I move, putting hte books back onto the shelves is a job I dislike. However, now I have so few and such a clear idea of “who goes with who” that it should be a snap. (Although I have no intention of moving!)

      • haha, I love putting them in. I love sorting them as well. it just makes my nerd-heart beat faster if I find a new sorting system for a special problem (size, category, etc.) 😉

  13. I feel like the Kindle isn’t very minimalist. It’s still digital clutter, to “own” all of those books. They’re just out of sight, out of mind.

    I also really dislike that you can’t share the books with a friend. -_-

    • I’m not sure if I agree or not. Did you watch the TED video Colleen posted a few weeks ago where the guy was talking about living in 400 square feet? He advocated electronics in order to minimize books, filing cabinets, instruction manuals, and other paper clutter.

      • I was thinking about that too. I get where you guys are coming from, but even if it doesnt require space, its still STUFF. and electronic clutter is even worse, because you can now go and buy and you dont need space. but you still OWN it.
        it is the same with putting pictures or CDs into boxes. even if they are not taking up a lot of space they are there. I decided to display everything I have, so that I dont have boxes everywhere. Pictures will soon go into a album (and I am sure I will declutter them sooner or later as well somehow ;-)) and CDs go into the shelf so that I can easily read and choose what I want to hear now. it needs to be quickly accessible and I dont want to touch everything that I own in order to find something.
        funny how I developed a dislike for boxes to contain possessions. Or any “containers” for that matter. more storage means more stuff. and that is just valid for electronic scources as well.
        Maybe its the different reasons: I want to reduce the stuff I own in first priority. getting more space is just the addition. If you want to reduce your space however, you can still own a lot, if you just store it well… I think thats a difference.

        • Interesting points. My house was a classic mess, but Colleen’s was well organized and well containerized. Clearly, each of us felt that we had too much stuff, even though it looked very different on the outside.

  14. I too love books. I read fast and many. I go to the library and get 30 at a time and pull them out in my rolling crate. I used to have 100’s of books but then sold them to pay for a semester of college. then I started collecting again and realized that they were taking up way too much space. So I either gave away or sold all but a few series by authors that I love. My one problem with the library is that they are not good at keeping a good flow of Christian fiction and non-fiction coming in. Sometimes the books I read there are the ones I gave them and am now reading again. That’s why I sometimes think about getting a Kindle. I can get most of the books I like on that and many of them I can get through the big countywide library system here. Weird that they would have them for the Kindle but not in Paper. I heard a rumor from that library system that publishers are having a serious discussion about gradually moving from paper to only e-books just like many newspapers and magazines are starting to do. We are running out of trees to cut and electronic is the way to go. I hate that because I like the book in my hand. I like to be able to write in it if I want. I like going into bookstores and smelling the old and new books. I’m afraid that we will eventually be stuck with the Kindle thing whether we want it or not.

    • Being stuck with Kindle as the only option is sad to me. It is interesting you said that. I do not want my children to read a Kindle yet, and then part of me realizes that once they do get their hands on one, they may never read paper again anyway. So why am I delaying it? For now though I want them to continue loving paper book reading.

    • If you live in a small town like the second one I have a card for (Wyoming, Iowa), I can see that you might need a Kindle. They have such a small collection although they do inter-library loan from the larger libraries and also fairly regularly swap a large number of books with other branches. Still, it’s just a small number compared to a library in a city.

  15. I appreciated this post as these are thoughts heavily on my mind right now, as we have been contemplating a Kindle for our family. I can’t believe I am even considering it as months ago I would not have, however we had an emergency trip where I would have enjoyed one. I love your library. We have way too many books. On the bright side, most of them are childrens books, and as our children grow up, we will be able to get rid of them in the next few years. I have committed to not buying any more books unless they are ones we will want to read over and over or are for languages, and I can’t think of any we don’t already have aside from language books. I have been weeding out the books that are not worth keeping so that what we have will fit into the shelves we have. I do believe we will eventually have a Kindle or Ipad etc. I agree that an Ipad would be a better option if I did not have a new laptop I plan to use until it wears out or is no longer useful. It is big, and I do not want to use it to read books, but it is useful for now. In the future I’d like to have one device for everything, and an Ipad would be it if not for the expense and size. I like what I use my larger laptop for, but I would not want an e-reader to be big. Perhaps I shall wait until the time comes to get that all in one unit.

    • We considered the purchase of a Kindle or an I-pad for travel, thinking that an I-pad would ‘do everything’. We discovered that we couldn’t download photos or print – I-Pad is not compatible with USB devices without additional hardware. So it seems a netbook AND a Kindle would be necessary for our use. Decision postponed.

      I’d suggest that before you buy an I-pad, you consider all the uses you need it for so you aren’t disappointed and find yourself buying yet another gadget.

  16. Grace from Brazil

    Kindles? I live overseas. They are my link to old books, new books, rare books, popular books and bestselling books. I would have to wait every two years to read something new. There are no public libraries or used book stores here. I would never have bought one but I was given one as a gift. It has opened worlds to me, though. I consider it a blessing. And in a climate where humidity is very rough on books and dust abounds I love that I don’t have to dust, make room on my already full shelves or mend them. I have heard that some people who live overseas have their whole library on one. Incredible. Less clutter!

    • Grace, you make a FANTASTIC point – I think if I was in a country not in my native country, a kindle would make PERFECT sense. Brilliant

      • I agree Grace. My friend Allison lies in China right now, and English language books are in desperately short supply, even in the American compound where they live. All four members of their family have Kindles, and I think this is a perfect application for them, no question about it.

  17. Try as I might I cannot find a downside to public libraries – professionals read articles about new books for me, buy the best, online catalogue them, put plastic covers on them, arrange them nicely, let me take them home for free and then put them away for me when I have finished with them. It’s as close to having servants as I’ll ever get (or WANT to get!). And whatever ecological footprint the book had is diluted many many times by the extra readers its get in a library. I have two Billy bookcases full of special books, and I only buy the very occasional book now – it took me a long time to realise that just because I don’t own it doesn’t mean it has disappeared from the universe and that I can always get it (or get it back) If I really feel the need…

    • I like your attitude towards books and the library, Calico ginger. You and I are certainly of like mind on this subject.

    • Calico ginger,
      I like your thought that libraries are “as close to having servants as I’ll ever get.” I’ve never thought of libraries that way before, but you’re right on.

      • I love it. If you use the same libraries a lot, the librarians can be your friends and your book advocates, too. The branch we use closed for over a year for some much needed upgrades. Then they were closed longer because once they put down the carpet, it rained and the water seeped up through cracks that had developed in the floor! and by the time they reopened, most of the small library staff had taken positions at other branches. It was so awful at first, going into the library, and not knowing the librarians and not having them to know me. I was really sad, and I have to say, the new staff just isn’t the same as the old gang. I miss ’em still.

  18. In my house, we have a wall of bookshelves in my room (former formal sitting/lounge room), a wall above/around the tv, another between the bathroom door and kitchen opening, and all around the wall to the hallway – all of these are floor to ceiling. And we have a few booxcases etc

    The ones around the TV were organised by colour, which really makes an impact, but…. Recently I was bored and so I was looking to get more like with like (author wise) for the bookshelves in my room, which meant roaming to all the other shelves, and playing switcheroo (matching colour to fill the holes – not easy!). I found THREE copies of a Janet Evanovich novel (hardly a bestseller, or a classic!) It certainly wasn’t the only double up!!

    Anyhow, we remain a book buying family (my uncle sends us uncorrected proofs as he works in a book store). I personally am refining my small collection to the absolute minimum (with categories -holocaust, physcology, religion & absolute favourites). I’ve been getting rid of (regifting, thrifting) books I don’t want to move house with. But there’s always some that I umm and ahh about, and it’s so easy for them to be absorbed into the family’s sea of books when I leave?!

    • Ah Snosie,
      A “sea of books” – that jst sounds wonderful. May I float in it?

    • I knew it was time to declutter when I found 2 (!) copies of PeterWalshes book “It’s all too much” in the house

      • That’s funny JessieJack. I was at a very, very cluttered neighbor’s house once and as I stepped over a box, I looked down, and the book on the top was “Clutter’s Last Stand.” I almost fell over from the effort of not laughing.

      • lol, what irony one can live with without blinking.

  19. Been busy with major house projects and haven’t been able to keep up with my favorite blogs lately! Just wanted to say that I have a Kindle and enjoy it very much. Although the “feel” of a book is nice, some of those 800 page books are kinda hard to hold in your hands while reading in bed!
    Still a great fan of my public library too-they know me by name! I am always reserving books, dvd’s and books on tape. As a kid my Dad took me to the library every Saturday morning to load up on books. One of my fondest memories.

    • You are right about big books Amy. I was reading something large, too it back to the library, and asked if they could help me find the paperback version so it wouldn’t be so heavy.

  20. I’ve always had tons of books and my daughter is the same. We used the library, used book store, Amazon, and bought new. I didn’t get the whole Kindle thing at first either and even thought it’s just not the same as holding a book in your hands (only another avid reader would get that), plus I always thought books worked into the decor made my home feel warm and cozy.

    And then it happened. When we upgraded our cell phones a few months ago they came with a built in Kindle at no extra cost. I forgot all about it until a couple weeks ago. I was waiting in the parking lot at my boys school at the time they normally get out of chorus practice when they sent me a text saying they were going to be about an hour later than usual – not enough time to go home and back. After checking email, blog posts, etc. I ended up on Amazon buying my first Kindle book for 99 cents.

    I have to say that I really love it! It’s more convenient than carrying a book everywhere I go, it helps with clutter on my journey to minimalism, and I can have a book immediately even if it’s 11pm on a Sunday night. I still wouldn’t have gone out to buy a Kindle but since it’s free on my phone I’m definitely enjoying having it 🙂

    • Glad it’s working for you. I can download Kindles on my iPod Touch, but the screen is pretty small for reading. “I read 200 pages while I was waiting for you!”

  21. Oh No You Didn’t. You did not just dis my kindle (my precious) 😛

    I love my Kindle but have no desire for an I-Pad because I just want to read and prefer the e-ink screen. I do love books and the library is still a big part of our lives but have you seen the SIZE of some of the books out there. I love reading a massive book on my Kindle because it doesn’t break my arm lol.

    The thing I love about minimalism is that we can all pick what is special to us. Those books are special for you so deserve the space that they use, where as for me I couldn’t justify the space in our tiny house for the books so a Kindle was the perfect choice for me as I am a big re-reader of my favourites.

    • Debra F,
      I think back to my kids going to high school and the weight of their backpacks some days. Imagine downloading text books onto a Kindle instead of carrying all that weight. Taking notes and doing papers on an iPad would be great as well. My pore kids were born 10 years too early. My son does take his iPad to university now to take notes on, so he didn’t miss out altogether.

      • Unfortunately I think they still mainly rely on books. I will find out next year when DS12 starts high school actually they are selling book packs at the orientation day in a couple of weeks. I remember nearly falling over from the weight of my back pack when I was in year 7.

    • Oh No! A throw down here at 365 Less Things!

  22. I love my books! Since starting the minimalism journey, I have been careful not to invite more books to take up residence with me, although my husband finds “free” books at the recycling center and brings them home. Even after hosting a couple of book sales, our library consists of about 2500 books in every category you’d find at a public library. When we were looking for a house several years ago, one of our stipulations was that it had to have a large room that we could convert into our library. Well, we found the house, set up our library, but even so, the books overflow into every room the of the house like welcomed guests. The books (except those that I am selling) are not clutter to us. They are organized on shelves very neatly and add character and warmth to our home. We enjoy sharing our books with friends. We also take advantage of our local library, especially for audio books. My husband would like an e-reader, although I don’t think it means he is willing to part with his books. I, on the other hand, like the feel and scent of the real thing, although with my poor vision, I can appreciate that on an e-reader you can increase the font to your comfort level.

  23. Hi all,
    Aaahhhh Books my precious! OMG I am kinda feeling about my books as I do Christmas Decorations BUT before I get hung, I also keep my books in hand. Having spent many many years in the school library system, (I actually think I bought 85% of the books in my sons old Primary School Library) I can definitely say that when it comes to childrens’ books, culling them from my home and donating to a school library was the way to go, I admit I have spent many $$$$$ over the years on books and like a lot of you had a love affair with books as a child and all through my life I have always had a book nearby.

    As I have always gone through my collection regularly, (I often borrow from the Library and I have a good set up with friends where we all share books too,) I have found it easy to keep my books in hand. I will also admit that if I hadn’t been careful with my books I would have ended up having my own Library with a rolling ladder and enough books to fill every space concievable and yes they would have be read and read and re-read again! I love books and always will but I am very aware of size and weight and the time they take to care for, therefore even though I love my books I cull regularly and keep my faves well looked after, I also have found it hard in the past to part with books that were gifts because people would write a sentiment in them, I still have books that are from my childhood because of this but I have kept them also because they are classics. Now, when I know a family member will be getting me a book, I ask that they write the note on a piece of paper that I put in my scrapbook and that way if I cull the book later I don’t have to wreck it, (for some reason it makes me feel sad that I come across books in 2nd hand stores that have sentiments written in them and they have been tossed) weird I know but thats how I feel!

    For anyone that likes uniform looking bookshelves try this, my friend, also a voracious bookbuyer, reader, keeper, couldn’t stand looking at her book spines on the shelf (all different colours etc) so she used plain white photocopy paper and made folded slipcovers (dust jackets) for them all. I laughed when I saw it but it actually looked really cool. With a plain font she typed out the names of the books and pasted them onto the jackets. Probably will be called anal and why bother etc etc but it worked for her and it does look neat and organised, and as she pointed out to me, she didn’t want to spend money on more furniture buying shelves with doors so the next best thing was utilising what she had. The other point she made was when the time arrives to cull a few they will still look neat and clean although they are well used!

    Lastly, i’m a techno-scaredy, I love the feel of a book and until such a time that books are no longer available, I don’t think I’ll be using a Kindle or an I-Pad or suchlike. I see they are very useful etc but like lots of things each to their own and there will always be something that creates a catch-22 for us all. I think that when it comes down to it, books can be heavy but they are mostly recyclable but I fear maybe electonics will always be just beneath the surface. A lot of resources are used to create both so it is definitely a subject that will always incite much conversation. In saying that I love the computer, it gives us all the opportunity to be here! Just imagine if it was a snail mail blog hahaha!!

    Great post Cindy, as usual, and I so love your library nook, and thanks Colleen for keeping us all here 🙂

    • I work wih a librarian who says that culling a collection is as important as adding to it. It sounds like you and she are together on that.

      It cracks me up that you call yourself a “techno-scaredy.”

  24. In the last year l’ve bought a few books, if l had lots of $$$ l could easily go “loco” buying heaps of them.
    But l have to look away now – no more books.
    I’m big on true crime and biographies. Mainly Australian books.
    Luckily l was able to off load some at our garage sale…..l was surprised they went……as books are such a subjective thing.
    What interests one person doesn’t mean someone else would like it.
    The people who bought them did get a really good deal though.
    I don’t think l could have a “library'” or a wall of books, that would be just too much for me.
    I get that way with mags too – if not being used and won’t be in the future, they go to the recycle bin.

    • I find books are easy to buy but harder to read, just like purchasing craft items: It’s easy to get way ahead of yourself, and new books are SO expensive.

  25. Although I’m a big reader (correction…although I read a lot of books, I’m actually on the small side!) I won’t buy a book unless I’ve already read it. I don’t like taking chances buying something I don’t know I’ll love and want to read again. I use the library as much as I can, but because the books I want to read are older, they don’t have most of what I want. So it’s kind of a catch-22 for me. It does keep me from having too many, though. For my kids, however, I can buy books at the library used book store for a quarter each, so I’m willing to take more chances. If the books are sitting around here waiting to be read, they have a tendency to read more. If a book is no good or not one we want to read again, we just donate it right back. Classic children’s books are probably the closest thing I have to a collection.

  26. …an ear mounted reading light ! I had never heard of one of those before !

  27. Books – now we’re talking. I’m still “weeding”/reading, with books going to the book sale, but I could never imagine not having any!!!! I go into a person’s room, and feel I “know” them, when I see the titles of their books. No books – no clues to what interests them.
    Cindy, I love your shelves. I doubt if my books will ever by so thinned down that they would fit in there. I ought to include a photo some time. Mine are sorted as if in a “real” library: fiction alphabetically by author, short stories, poetry, drama, music, travel, history, religion, philosophy, hobbies, children’s, and “odds and ends”. However, I couldn’t imagine filing them by colour – they look very nice in the photograph but … not for me.
    I suppose I’ll get down into the hundreds, but can’t really imagine ever being without books – I haven’t seen or used a kindle or e-reader, but I enjoy the feel of a book, and the smell and ….

    • It’s true that to some degree while you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can just a reader by their bookshelves!

      Color wouldn’t work for me either, I don’t think. It requires a different type of imagination than I have.

  28. I love this post! It’s so great to be around people who love books as much as I do.I am selective in what books I buy and usually just limit them to my favorite authors. I also go to the library every week and check out 6-8 books. I am considering a kindle to use while traveling–since I try to only do carryon bags I’d like to not have to carry 3 books around with me. One nice thing about my books at home is that I will go back and reread my books every 7-10years. It’s long enough that I don’t remember all the details and enjoy the book again. I just reread PD James and early Michael Connely. And of course Jane Austin every 3-5 years!

    • I have some books that I’ve read 5 or 6 times, and when I read a section that I didn’t remember, I always feel a little dumb – you know, I”ve read this so many times, why can’t I remember it sort of thing. Glad to know all the details don’t stay with you either.

  29. Some of the best decisions/revelations on my decluttering journey are connected to books:
    a) if I don’t read them, I don’t need them
    b) too much of a good thing is still too much
    c) even something I enjoy can turn into an obligation and therefore things I like and WOULD use can turn into obligation clutter
    d) having something does not keep you from wanting something – only from getting something (at least if you are already clutter-smart)

    Thus said, all these things that dawned on me over time didn’t culminate in empty shelves but at least in a status quo I would call “collection under control”. Two bookshelves (the infamous billys in the slimmer and unfortunately discontinued 60 cm version, hightened though) are the designated space for books. I like them, they can stay (for now, they suit the space) but they have to be weeded from time to time because even if I don’t buy much I do a lot of book reading for the job so new things come in all the time which practically separates the shelves into a permanent collection and a in-and-out-section.
    Other than having a shelf for the books of the moment I can’t really stick to one system of organizing (I was desperate to find the perfect system for a long time but it only resultet in almost as much error as trial). I mix a couple:
    – Height (I want all the really big book on the bottom and every shelf itsself must be sorted by hight at least more or less)
    – subject (I have a careful collection of books concerning my university thesis that would be hard to find again which are grouped together, occupy more than one shelf and in my thinking CANNOT be mixed with other subjects. Other thematically linked books are only grouped together if it looks cohesive)
    – colour (this worked better when I had more books but I managed one shelf in white which adds a tint of serenity to the big colourful picture)

    Sorting by author is something I don’t get if you only own a couple of (hundred ;-)) books – as long as I don’t mix the books of the moment with the keepers. Everything I keep has earned it’s place in my bookcase as well as in my memory which means it can be detected in a pretty short time. (which doesn’t mean that it can never be decluttered though. I don’t want a dead and sacred bookcase but a living being that grows with me, not in size but in quality, depths and vision with a healthy mixture of past, present and future, emphasizing on the present)

    • It’s surprising how many ways there are to sort books, isn’t it? My mother wanted my shelves to be more pretty and I wanted my shelves to be more functional. She set up one side and I did the other. Her size did look better but my side worked better. Over time, both sides have been adjusted somewhat, of course.

  30. I finally bought a Kindle, the Kindle Fire. In fact, I read this blog post on my Kindle. I don’t own a cell phone (I hate telephones). I’m also relatively poor. So why spend some of my hard-earned dollars on a Kindle? Because now, at my fingertips, I have all 700 or so of my blog subscriptions. I’m reading Atlas Shrugged, a fat, boring novel if ever there was one, without straining to hold the book. I downloaded a scientific book for less than half the cost of purchasing the print version. I now have Walden, all of Jules Verne’s books, John Wesley Powell’s reports about his expeditions in Colorado, and many other classics at my fingertips. I’ve watched Slings and Arrows via Amazon and several documentaries via Netflix. I baked pumpkin pies last night while I watched a documentary on Pompeii. I don’t own a laptop, so to read my email, I have to power up my old XP IBM-compatible, which is *so* slow. Why do I own a Kindle? Because it makes me happy. By the way, I’m a librarian.

    • 700 blog subscriptions? Are you serious? And why are you reading Atlas Shrugged if you think it’s boring. (That’s the one with the architect, right?)

      Anyway, I’m glad your Kindle is working for you. I thought those Kindle Fires looked interesting, as well.

  31. I probably would never have bought a Kindle, but now that I have one, I don’t know how I lived without it before. 🙂

    I won a Kindle in a blog giveaway, several months ago. I’ve since loaded it with hundreds of free classic novels Amazon lets you download for free (all the Brontes, all Jane Austen, etc etc). Also, when you go to the Kindle store and click on “Free Collections”, there is a link to “Limited-time Promotional Offers” – hundreds of free ebooks, from textbooks to novels. I download at least 5 to 10 free ebooks from this page every week. Of course, that can create a lot of *digital* clutter in your Amazon account, but I find it easier to deal with that than with piles of physical books and the ever-shrinking shelf space in my home.

    I haven’t yet figured out how to listen to audio books on my Kindle (I still use a very small, cheap mp3 player I bought at Big Lots for around $20 a couple of years ago – its battery life is annoyingly short, but I have kind of gotten used to it). I do know they promote Audible on, so I’m not sure if the mp3 format ebooks I already own will play on the Kindle without first converting the file? Anyone?

    I think the real winners with the Kindle and the other ereaders are visually-impaired readers who (before) were limited to reading only those books available in physical large print editions. Most books aren’t available in large print, so if you have a favorite author and you want to readl *all* their books, not just the most recent or bestselling ones, then you’re really stuck if you have to have the large print. With the Kindle or Nook (etc) you can just change the screen resolution for large print on *ANY* ebook. Any ebook!! That is HUGE. A whole new world of reading possibilities just opened up for the visually impaired with the advent of these e-readers.

    • Good point about people with visual problems. I’d add English-speakers who live in foreign countries to that list as well.

      I didn’t fully “get” my iPod Touch before I owned it, but now I use it as much as my computer. (Both probably too much.)

  32. Hi, first time commenter, long time follower. I started seriously downsizing/decluttering about a year ago and have gotten rid of about half to two-thirds of my c**p (oops, sorry stuff).

    Books and my art/craft goodies have always been the hardest thing for me to declutter as I’m a complete bookworm. That is, however, until I bought my Kindle and I am now obsessed with it. I’ve gotten rid of all but 2 books and have created a wish list on Amazon of books that I once owned and may want to read again so that they’re easy to find.

    What I like about my Kindle (asides from its bright pink cover) is that I can throw it in my bag and if I have to wait anyway (like when I miss a tram) I’ve always got something to read, it’s lightweight and I can download books instantly (although this can be a bad side as it’s very easy to spend way too much on books each week).

    On a completely different note regarding Christmas, I have to buy gifts for my 2 nieces (aged 8 and 10) and don’t want to buy them stuff as they have 3 sets of grandparents and multiple aunts & uncles who will all buy them presents. My first thought was to make a donation to a local animal shelter in their names as they love animals but my sister thinks they’re too young for that. I made them cushions last year with their names appliqued on the covers and am wanting suggestions as to what’s a good gift for girls that age. I’m not sure what they’re into as I don’t keep in contact with the family much (but that’s a whole other very long story). Help/advice much appreciated.

    Sorry, this has gotten a bit long winded!!!

    Have a great weekend all. Fiona

    • Hi Fiona,
      let me extend to you a warm welcome to 365 Less Things. Even though you have been reading for a while it is nice to have you come forward so we can all meet you. Well done with the book decluttering after discovering Kindle. It would seem that you are simply an avid reader rather than an avid reader/book collector.

      As for those two nieces, 8 & 10 is not to soon to make donations in their names to an animal shelter. Cindy has been doing this kind of gift giving with her girls for years. The sooner they learn to be generous the better. If it make you feel better why not buy them a book to share about animal shelters and include a card and receipt for the donation you have made in there name. I googled “Children’s books about animal shelters” and found this site. I think you will find that the girls’ mother is the one who has the issue here and that the children will likely be very happy with this gift. Why not give it a try at least once and see how it goes. I also have a guide for non-cluttering gift giving for children HERE that may be helpful to you should you not want to go with the other idea.
      Good luck and please let us know after Christmas what you decided to do and how your gift was received.

      • Hi Fiona – well done on the decluttering: I’m at the same sort of level with my owb stuff at 1/2 to 2/3rd gone. But not hrere with my own books yet. It is very interesting to see the distinction between a great reader and a great lover of books.

        My own hesitation with you donating to an animal shelter this year is that your sister has already said they are too young, so in the interest of fostering good family relations, I wouldn’t then, havng asked her advice, deliberately go against it. After all, there will be more Christmas’s to come and you have now solved next years xmaspressie:O) .
        Some shelters have specific ‘sponsor a named animal’ opportunities. For example, friend sponsor a donkey called dora at a local donkey sanctry which makes the donation seem more useful in the sense you get specific info on the difference your money makes which might be helpful for youngsters.
        Perhaps if you rarely see your neices, it might be nicer to personalise a donation that ties in with an experience – like a visit to such a place/ or animal related place if they offer one? They will remember that more, learn more,have a great time and associate that with you.

        Other none stuff gifts include vouchers for theatre/cinema/paint your own pottery shops.
        Do let us know what you decide.

        • Hi Fiona. Welcome to 365 Less Things. As Colleen pointed out, my daughters are 8 and 11, and they’ve been giving and getting things like bags of dog food for the shelter and money to make a micro loan on Kiva for years. They are certainly not too young. However, thir mother has specifically told you no. If you wanted to get my child a Bratz doll, and I asked you not too, I would not expect to see one under the tree, no matter how fantastic an idea you thought it was.

          If you’re going to see them, then I agree with Katharine that you could combine it into an experience: trip to shelter and donation plus lunch out. However, since you don’t see them/keep in touch with them much, I’m of two minds 1) ask their Mom and do whatever she suggests or 2) do whatever you want and let the chips fall where they may.

          In general, I think girls like jewelry (stereotype but true), books, and art supplies.

  33. Thanks for an article about books that actually matches pretty much what I do. I have read many articles about reducing your books to a very small number, which doesn’t work at all for me. I use the library heavily, but notice that many of the books I want to reread are no longer available. Perhaps some libraries put book donations on the shelves, but I don’t see that much at my local library. So the idea that you can donate all your books and then just check them out when you want to read them doesn’t work out. My mom used to read her fiction books 3 times (she wrote the dates on the inside cover) and then send them to me for reading/trading. Recently I have been rereading and finding books that no longer interest me, so the in/out rule is working well.

    • Hi Sherilan, I will draw Cindy’s attention to your comment since it is her post she may want to respond for herself. But in the meantime I just wanted to extend to you a very warm welcome to 365 Less Things.

  34. I am voracious reader – so is my older daughter – I re-read my top 100 each year – it doesn’t make any sense but it is my vice. I had to switch to an e-reader because of a wrist injury, I could no longer hold up a Diana Gabaldon. For me my kobo is my most prized possession as it is very light, it goes everyone with me from my night stand to my handbag and the e-ink is anti-glare. Yes digital books are still ‘stuff’ but it is a very small area of ‘stuff’ – and it is the best answer for me as recreational-reader. I feel quite justified when I compare it to my husband’s sports gear that doesn’t see a lot of action and is taking up half the garage.

    I have recently decided that for the average person, the greater majority of things we bring into our houses, we bring in for a purpose. However, every purpose has an expiry date, and when we don’t get rid of it, we store it, shelve it, squash it in, and then it becomes clutter. My new rule of thumb is: if it hasn’t been used in the last year it is surplus. I can honestly say my e-books get re-read every year, so they are not surplus.

    I love that I will eventually have all my library stored on my kobo, and that it is slowly liberating me from literally tonnes of paper books and I get to keep my vice.

  35. I love books and reading. Hubby and I move every few years because of his job. After lugging boxes of books from house to house and room to room with all of the bookcase(s) to go with, it can take a lot out. Hubby got me my Kindle last year (or so?). I prefer it to most paper books because of two things: 1. It’s not backlit and the ink makes it eye friendly (especially those you just CAN’T put down and 2. I have about 20 books on my Kindle waiting for me to get to them…one is a copy of the Bible. The classics are free for the download…I can read Tom Sawyer, Alice in Wonderland, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin for free….whenever I’m in the mood. I can also read a minimalizing book as well as a nice fiction back-to-back. I can read one during the day (off times) and the other at night before bed. The only books I have to have paper are my textbooks (back in college to get my degree)….I tend to highlight and need to flip back and forth whenever my memory “dings.” lol