All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

The Before & The After: Rearranging My Bookshelves

on November 17, 2013

Like most avid readers, it’s always a case of too many books and not enough space. Although we have quite a lot of bookcases, it’s not enough for a collection that is always growing! My husband is an avid reader as well and although he doesn’t buy or receive as many as I do, he had already amassed a huge collection before we even met.

I have two bookcases for my ‘TBR’ pile which is a mix of books I picked out of my husband’s collection and new ones that I’ve acquired. Both were pretty much overflowing as soon as I’d finished setting them up, as were the others I used for books I’d already read. I’d resisted double stacking my paperbacks for a long time – the way the books were, I knew where everything was and could locate a book relatively quickly whenever I needed it. However, it was pretty obvious that I was going to have to do something and so the other day, motivated by a friend who was rearranging her own shelves, I decided to give it a go!

Here is a ‘before’ pic of my TBR shelves.

IMG_9077The bookcase on the left is huge and holds a lot of books but I was probably not cramming in as many as I could! It holds mostly older books that my husband already owned when we met and books that I picked up at a huge Borders warehouse sale, when Borders still existed. The little one on the right held some Australian Women Writers books, some unread YA, a couple of shelves for my husband’s TBR pile and a miss-mash of whatever was left down the bottom. I took everything out of both bookcases and separated them by their size.

IMG_9076This is the after. The top two shelves of the one on the left are double stacked with mass market paperbacks and the next few shelves are all hardbacks or large trade paperbacks. The bottom shelf has whatever paperbacks were left over that didn’t fit to double stack. This enabled me to clear some space in the one on the right and the top shelf of that one is now ARCs that are recent or need to be read in the next couple of months. The second shelf is a mix of books that didn’t fit elsewhere and the rest now belong to my husband (who is always complaining that with all the shelves we have, very few of them are his….lol).

I was rather satisfied with how much room I’d freed up here so I decided to tackle the 3 IKEA Billy bookcases we have in our dining room which house my read collection. Those were full and also overflowing everywhere with stacks of books crammed into almost every shelf above waist height. I unfortunately don’t have very good before photos of those ones because our dining table was in the way but I do have a couple that show the top halves.


IMG_7235See? Messy! So messy! Piles everywhere. And I’ve noticed that my bookshelves are also great dumping grounds for crap. I’d removed all the garbage in the before pics of the TBR shelves but in this one you can see all of the crap in its glory. The top picture houses various read paperbacks stacked behind and then read ARCs from this year and last. In the second picture, the top 2 shelves are both YA with a heck of a lot of stuff that doesn’t fit piled up (this picture is also old, there was a lot of extra stuff piled up on the one on the right too) and then various read adult fiction. I pulled everything out here too, having about 1ft of space to work with because of the dining room table.

Here’s how they look now….



I freed up a whole bookcase for the books I’ve received for review since I started blogging. Keeping them separate just kind of ended up happening because I kept most books to the bookcases they were already in as much as possible to help with knowing where they are. Plus the ARCs were mostly the ones I had recently read and that way I know what series’ I’m awaiting new books on as well. I have grouped some ongoing series together where I can easily see them (and hopefully slot in future volumes).

In the second picture… lots of doublestacking here! The top 2 shelves in each book case are all the really small paperbacks. I’ve also double stacked one shelf of YA (fourth down on the left) and a bunch of my husband’s stuff (fifth down on the right). I freed up a lot of room so that the piles are not overflowing and threatening to fall on my head and kill me.

However….it has not escaped my attention that I have not created much room for new books. Of which, there will always be, flowing into my house. I do have room for more shelves but I have to sacrifice furniture or a guest bedroom for them. The guest bedroom is the front runner at the moment – it really only gets used a couple times a year when my parents visit. I’m waiting until one of my kids is old enough to go into a Queen size bed which my parents can sleep in when they visit. And then…..more bookcases!

It’s an obsession. And it never ends.

16 responses to “The Before & The After: Rearranging My Bookshelves

  1. Malvina says:

    Oh, I can identify with all this. Can I ask you one little question? Do you ever get rid of some books? Pass them on to friends, used book stores, libraries, Lifeline Bookfairs, etc? Anyway, if so – what are your criteria for parting with them. How much does it ‘hurt’?!

    • I do get rid of books. Every year or so I will box up books that weren’t really for me or ones that I know I have no interest in re-reading and donate them to charity or take them to a 2nd hand bookstore. However….I’m probably not ruthless enough! I can’t help it, I like collecting them!

  2. Thank you for sharing. I have the same problem, except that every few months I have to buy new bookshelves. The walls seem to close in on me, the towers of pages only get taller, and there’s no escaping. I often wonder how it got that bad…

    • Lol! I need to buy more shelves too but I’m so limited where they can go! I need to win Lotto so I can get a bigger house and have a ginormous room just for my bookshelves with LOTS of room to expand my collection.

  3. Wow! That is some collection. Somehow I imagined you would have more, though. Your reading tally is so impressive. Long live real books and lovely readers!

    • We do have some more, there’s a smaller bookcase in another room that my husband keeps his favourites in and his sporting books and historical/political biographies are boxed up because they’re too big and bulky for shelves. There’s roughly 1100 books or so on those shelves!

  4. Lol, I’m resigned to waiting til my kids leave home so I can turn one of their rooms into a library. Of course where they are going to fit in the meantime is the question, I’ve already had to start double stacking my newest bookshelves.

    • My kids are only 5 and 2! That’s a loooong time to wait haha. Seriously, why can’t I just win the Lotto? It would solve ALL my problems… not enough room, not enough shelves, too many books I want to buy…..

  5. Wattle says:

    Your shelves now look so neat! I have bookshelf envy! Mine are double stacked galore, and then there’s books shoved in anywhere I can fit them (and there is no longer a system lol) I’m dreading the day I decide to go through them all, but that time is getting close…I really think I need to convert part of the house into a library 😉

    • I am not sure how long they will stay that way, no room for more books means that new ones will start getting shoved in wherever until there are just huge messy piles again everywhere! But for now they look pretty good!

  6. Jan says:

    Well I have officially run out of space so I’ll be heading out very shortly to go buy yet another bookcase! I do need to be ruthless and have a bit of a clearout but it’s just really hard to let go of any of them! I’m very proud of myself though because I did, at the very least, move my bookcases slightly and including the one I’ll buy today I’ve got space for another 2! Woo hoo! 🙂

  7. Tien says:

    OMG! I feel you!! It’s so much fun organising and re-organising though 😀

    I’ve learnt to not be so precious about my books though as I really don’t have that much room… 😦 In a way, I’m telling myself that these books are finding loving homes as I’d give them to friends whom I know will appreciate them!

    • My husband is worse than I am – he won’t part with anything! I’ve at least learned to move on the ones that I don’t love although I could probably part with more if I wanted to….but I don’t…. Hoarder lol.

  8. Hee hee, it’s like Easter! I get so excited, seeing picture of people’s stuffed bookcases, it’s nerdy I know. And I’ve always had a thing for before-and-after photos! So much fun. I always need to organise my books by size because when they’re neat on the shelves, it’s just more soothing. I’d like to have enough shelf space to organise by genre and then by size. Alphabetical would be great but when you have all the different sizes jumbled up together, you can’t see the individual spines very well. But if you can have them in single-file rather than double-parked, it doesn’t matter so much if they’re not alphabetical because you can see them so much better! Ah to be able to unpack my books again! (the dream!)

    • My dream is to only have every shelf single stacked but unless I do the above and win that big Lotto jackpot, it’s just never going to happen. Shelving them alphabetically would be good…. but ugh, when you get a new author last name A and you have to rearrange 200-odd books to accomodate it? Baddd lol. I try to keep authors grouped together but I also have them in different formats so sometimes they got separated when I rearranged on the weekend. I hardly ever re-read anymore – I used to ALL the time but then there just became too many books to read, so it’s not like I often need to find a really specific book. Of course now that I’ve said that I’ll need to find one like, right now and drive myself nuts trying to do it!

      Whenever you get to unpack your books, you have to post photos!

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