How to rainbow your bookshelves like a boss . . . even if no one else can tell

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I love books.  Even though I was late to the e-reader party, I love my kindle.  (I’ll talk more on this later, but I think I actually prefer my kindle to real books now.  I’m as shocked as you are.)

I particularly love that my kindle made it easy to pack without taking tons of books.

I worry about how this may affect the boys later.  Aren’t there studies that show you are more likely to read if there are a lot of books around?  Or is it just you are more likely to read if you see people reading?  I don’t know.  Too tired to Google right now.

Either way, I feel like our limited book strategy works best when accompanied with frequent library visits.

We have lots of great places to take the boys now.  Parks.  The zoo.  The market.  All within walking distance.  But I do miss having a good library handy.

We were spoiled in DC with two libraries within walking distance.  Both had full children’s sections with story time schedules and other activities.  We had just started to dip our toes into the library scene.

But right now we do not have a library in our rotation.  We read our collection here with gusto.  We’ll reassess how many books to have around more, you know, when the children can actually read.

But, for right now, all of our books fit on one bookshelf.

This bookshelf isn’t even all books.  One shelf is kids’ books.  Two are toys.  One is assorted papers and travel books.  A quarter of a shelf is photo books and albums.  A few are treasured resources that I liked enough to make the trip across the Atlantic.

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The remainder of the books I’ve actually never touched.  Weird, right?

When I finally got around to reading Marie Kondo’s Life-changing Magic (on the kindle, natch), I praised myself that I did not have to worry about getting rid of unread books.  See, generally, I don’t buy a book until I’m ready to read it.  As a downside, I don’t have a great capture system for the list of books I want to read.  I’ve tried Amazon wishlists and Goodreads, but haven’t stuck to them.  Sometimes I’ll buy a book if it is on sale, but it patiently waits on the kindle without cluttering things up.

Truthfully though, I DO have unread books on my shelves.  Lots of Tom Clancy, to be precise.

James has some Clancy books.  A few years ago we went in search of some epic thrift shop warehouse I’d heard about in Virginia (oh, the things we used to do pre-kids).  I wasn’t blown away by the store (can’t even remember the name or I’d tell you), but they did have  a big book section.  For about .25-.50 per title, we rounded out the Clancy collection.  At these prices, I figured we’d read and then give them away.

I did make it through one of them.  But I haven’t been reaching for them.  I don’t know why exactly.  Half the time I forget about them.  Others I don’t feel like wrestling with a lumpy paperback.  Whatever the reason, they are definitely not being read.

I should probably go ahead and purge.  We’ve been here over a year now.  I think I can safely say that, if I haven’t touched something in over a year, I probably won’t miss it.

I’ve been thinking I need to purge generally.  A delightful friend recently suggested some new furniture arrangements.  After a year here, I thought we’d settled on about as good as we’d get.

I was wrong.

I spent the next day pushing and pulling furniture all over the house.  We haven’t really lived in the new situation yet, but I’m definitely optimistic.

It also definitely makes me want to straighten up in other ways.  Like purging things we haven’t touched.  Or fully processing new things that have come into the home.

In the meantime, while I decide whether to cut the Clancy cord, I at least decided to spruce up the bookshelf.  Why not try this rainbow-ing that everyone is doing on Pinterest?

First, I pulled all the books off the shelves.  OK, just the top two shelves.  There is no way I’m trying to rainbow the kids’ books.  Talk about an exercise in futility.  It would be about as productive as trying to rainbow the clothes in their drawers or the food on their plates.

I also left the assorted papers that I STILL need to go through.  And I couldn’t bear to de-group the travel books.  They are generally all the same color anyway.  (Which makes it super frustrating when you are trying to find a certain one around the house.  Oh, is that Rome?  NO.  Grr, it is NOT your time Croatia.)

And then I tried to group the books by color.  Hard with the Clancy, but not as hard as I thought.

The difference is definitely subtle.

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As you can see, I still need to deal with the random crap pile.

You would never come in and think, oh, wow, look at those rainbow bookshelves.

You probably wouldn’t even notice it unless I was all weirdly nodding my head at the shelves.  Actually, you’d probably just think I had a tic and you would abandon ship without thinking twice about all the shelf glory.

But I like it.

Even though I like living in an orderly, uncluttered home, this is low on my list of priorities for how I actually like to spend my energy.  But I took a small step.  It wasn’t that hard.  I can probably do more.

Are you Team Hold Onto Books?  Team Rainbow?  Team Kindle?  Would love to hear how you decide which books to keep and which to move along.

7 thoughts on “How to rainbow your bookshelves like a boss . . . even if no one else can tell

  1. maggie says:

    I am (thankfully?) unaware of this rainbowing thing of which you speak, but yes to everything else. I love my kindle for most of my at-home reading. I also demand to have a large supply of physical books around the house. I refuse to believe that there will ever a sufficient digital replacement for certain things… my dichotomous key to stream invertebrates of the southeastern U.S. for example. The same goes for cook books, knitting books, and anything else that could be called a reference book. I like to keep a good collection of classics in hard copy, and also a handful of beat up and beloved young adult fiction that I like to revisit from time to time. For some reason, those are not the same on kindle. The cookbooks live in the kitchen, in no particular order. The fiction is alphabetized, and the rest is organized by topic then alphabetized, or at least it started out that way. It is quite rare that a piece of contemporary fiction is given a home on a bookshelf. Most of it gets passed on quickly. Same for narrative or argumentative nonfiction.

    As far as organization, I’ve also tried goodreads and amazon’s wishlist with mixed results. Goodreads is nice for finding new books. I like being able to see what you are reading. Amazon is nice for tracking Kindle prices. I like that they tell me when a price has dropped. But I’ve not loved either for keeping a reading list. I finally let the spreadsheet that organizes my Christmas knitting take over the rest of my life. It now tracks fitness and home improvement priorities and progress, recipes to try, and my expanding reading list. This is basically working.

  2. RedHeadedBookLover says:

    I just checked out your blog after reading you’re incredibly written post and I couldn’t help but press follow straight away because your blog is truly both amazing and beautiful! I am so happy I came across it (:
    I love it so much, as I am sure you can tell! So please keep writing so I can keep reading! Can’t wait to read more from you (:

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