All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

On Organisation…..

So today is my birthday. It’s not a milestone birthday, although it’s quite close to one (in 2 years I can describe myself as turning “the new 30”) and I’ve really noticed that my attitude toward ‘things’ has changed quite a bit over the past….well almost 2 years I think. We had to move house and both my husband and I well, we’ve had trouble letting go of things. That move was when I got rid of my baby stuff and my youngest kid was 6!

When I was in my 20s, I enjoyed hoarding books. I wanted to build this huge collection and look, part of me still does. It would be my dream to have a house big enough to truly have the book collection of my dreams – a dedicated space to it with huge shelves where nothing was double stacked and everything was a dust-free dream reading space, where I’d always know where the book I wanted was and no matter how many more books I acquired, there was always room for them.

But this is reality and the simple fact is, my house isn’t big enough for that – and it won’t ever be. In fact as my kids get older and do their own thing, my houses will eventually decrease in size and so that means….not keeping things. I’ve really begun to notice again, after culling books to move, how cluttered my shelves were looking. I’m not a neat freak but I have a point that I get to where things bother me and right now, the bookshelves are bothering me.

We have six bookshelves in this house, each one for a different thing….I decided to start with the biggest one and I made myself look at it objectively and think about books that I wouldn’t miss if they were gone.

This bookcase is amazing – it holds so many books! I wish I’d bought a couple more of them – there are 3 other bookcases beside this one, 2 IKEA ones and another smaller one. This one was primarily a bookcase I turned into just being for books by Australian women writers – I had so many of them! As you can see it was pretty crammed full, in fact I had not realised that one of the shelves was being held up entirely by books crammed onto the books on the shelf below it. I had to pull everything off the shelf and reaffix the studs. I made myself really think hard about whether not I was going to ever want to read a particular book again – if I didn’t think I would, it went into the cull pile.

I have access to such a large amount of books these days – print copies from publishers, eBook copies from publishers, my local library, sales on amazon and iBooks, as well as print copies I buy myself. There is very little time to re-read anymore and I’m hanging onto a lot of books for the sake of it…..when really, I could find them new homes.

This is the after. It honestly doesn’t look like much room has been created – and I still have to organise it and reshelve everything alphabetically, because I just cleared things out and pushed books back. But in case it looks like I didn’t get a lot off this shelf….here’s the pile of books to cull:

So this is from just that one shelf – next for me is to go through the piles of books I’d begun stacking up on the floor in-between this bookcase and the one next to it and then I’ll move onto the others, 2 of which are full of books I’ve already read and 1 of which is books I describe as “long term TBR” aka books I think I want to read but who knows when I will.

Just because I’m moving these books on, doesn’t mean I didn’t like them all. In fact, I enjoyed a lot of them! It’s just they’re books I cannot see myself needing re-read or needing on my shelf for years to come. And I feel as though they could find homes elsewhere although I have to research best places I can donate most of these. And in the future I plan to donate books more regularly, rather than leave it years and end up with stacks upon stacks.

I’ve gotten to a place in my life where I am just….over clutter and mess. I honestly wish that I could move my collection solely to eBooks, because then I could have many thousands and it wouldn’t matter. And I do have a huge amount of eBooks but ultimately, I cannot let print books go, I just love the experience of reading an actual paper copy book too much! And it’s not just books – I’ve been culling clothes, letting go of things that I’ve been holding onto for years in case they fit again or because I “might” wear it again someday. I’ve been culling my kids’ stuff as well – chucking toys they don’t play with and are too old for, books that they’ve outgrown, shoes, clothes, etc. I’m about to tackle my craft stuff as well….I often describe myself as going through fads where I throw myself wholeheartedly into something that requires I buy a lot of shit and then a few months later I am bored with it. It just means stuff piles up around my house and I keep moving it around, trying to find spots for it in a house that has very little in the way of practical storage. I won’t say that I’m a minimalist, or even moving towards that, but I’m definitely getting to a stage where I appreciate less clutter, and a more tidy, organised house. And books are going to be a part of that too – I could never get rid of them completely, but I am going to be a little pickier about what gets a permanent home on my shelf.

 

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Trying To Stay Organised In 2017

As I’ve mentioned, 2016 was a bit of a slow year blogging wise. I read plenty of books (not as many as in previous years but still a lot) but I didn’t write anywhere near as many reviews as books I read. This is for quite a few reasons but one of them was that I didn’t really bother to buy myself a proper blog planner and have a place where I could record what was coming in and what I was supposed to be doing on what day.

When I started the blog, I just read whatever I felt like and reviewed whenever I wanted. As I started to accept more books for review and join blog tours where I was required to post on a certain date, I had a blog planner to keep me organised. Last year I was away in December and never really got around to organising one for 2016 and it seemed that the ‘begin as you mean to go on’ mantra rang true for me. At times in 2016 there was very little consistency to my blog posts….I think I went as long as a month without posting only to pop up and post 4x in a week, drop off for another 2 weeks etc. I’m aiming to reduce that a lot next year.

In 2013, 2014 and 2015 I used the same blog planner after meeting Shelleyrae from Book’d Out and seeing hers. It worked really well and I liked them a lot. I was going to order one of them again but then I saw a post that Erin Condren planners were 30% off from the US over the Black Friday weekend. I hadn’t purchased one before so that gave me an added 10% off which ended up making the price rather reasonable, including shipping it here. Us poor folks in Australia quite often get a raw deal when it comes to shipping things from overseas – it can cost more than the item. Sometimes many times more. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen something, gone to order it and then been hit with $100+ shipping. Once I went to order $20 worth of stickers from an Etsy store and it was going to cost $68 to ship them. Needless to say I didn’t go through with that!

I like planners that I can personalise and make my own. There are so many these days….I have a Kikki K planner for household stuff, my kids commitments such as swimming and school events etc but I discovered when I tried to repurpose one last year as a makeshift blog planner that it just didn’t really work for me. I’m a bit of a stationery nerd. I love notebooks, diaries, planners and all that stuff. I have hundreds of pens. I’m a visual learner, I like having things open in front of me rather than stored on an online calendar or in my phone. I love to flip pages. I like to write things down. That’s what works for me.

So I thought I’d share the planner I bought for next year and how I plan to use it. Note: This isn’t a sponsored post or anything. I paid for it myself, have no connection to the company etc.

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I picked this cover for two reasons – one, I love the colours. Blues and greens are my faves…..if you saw how much I owned in the shades of blue/green, especially the colours that are a mix of the two like teal! It’s half my wardrobe probably. I also picked it because…..the quote works for me. I love reading. I love blogging. I may go through stages where I’m a bit fatigued with one, the other or even both but it doesn’t mean I no longer love either of them. I think having a reminder that I am doing this because I love it is a nice thing, every time I open the planner.

The layout inside is pretty simple….I’ve discovered through trial and error that horizontal is the only layout that works for me. I can’t stand vertical, although the vertical layouts of this particular planner seem super popular!

img_4185This is just a blank layout because although I have got things booked in for January, I haven’t actually marked them into the planner yet as I just received it. However whenever I get a date for a blog tour, I write it down on the relevant day. I note down book title, author, what I’m doing such as review, Q&A, guest post etc and the relevant publisher to send the link to. If I’m reviewing a book I’ve purchased myself, I just note down the title and author on the day I’ve scheduled the review to post. I also track my incoming books, noting down what I’ve received on what day and whether or not it was from NetGalley. That helps me notice if I have a blog tour coming up and the book hasn’t arrived yet or if I’ve received 2 copies of something (this happens occasionally). It also allows me to know how long some books have been sitting on my shelf! There are notes pages where I write down books that interest me from reviews I’ve read or seen mentioned or ones that are being released soon that I need to keep a look out for the next I’m in a bookstore. I might scribble down ideas I have for blog posts (the majority of never get written) as well.

One of my blog resolutions for 2017 is to be more organised and with that, more consistent. So I think that I’ve taken the first step to making that resolution a reality. I have so many awesome books to read and talk about and now I have the time to talk about them. My motivation is back so everything seems to be falling into place.

I’m curious to know how other people plan their posts – or even if they do. If you have a way of keeping organised, be it for blogging or work or life, let me know!

 

 

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The Before & The After: Rearranging My Bookshelves

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.

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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….

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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.

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Organisation – All In Vain

Last week I was a bit of a busy bee. Due to space restrictions, we have a pitiful one bookcase, with the rest of our books being stored in a large double built-in cupboard with deep shelves. The books are stacked 2-3 high and usually 2-3 deep as well. It can make finding things a bit difficult and whenever we buy new books they usually just get shoved in anywhere they fit. So I decided to change that.

I rounded up all the books we’d bought recently that hadn’t been read, and some ones we’d isolated into a box when we’d uploaded our collection to our LibraryThing about six months ago, and emptied the bookcase we have. The two bottom shelves were already empty, as our toddler used to pull everything out that was that low, but he’s at the age now where he leaves things alone (mostly). One other shelf was dvd’s, which I pulled out and packed away into a box and I emptied the two actual shelves that contained books. Anything we hadn’t read I added to the pile of new books, anything we had I put onto another pile to go into the cupboard.

Due to the fact that I read a lot faster than my partner (he works long hours, and doesn’t have the time that I do to read) I have a lot more books in my TBR pile than he does. So I got 3.5 shelves, and he got 1.5 – fair deal I thought as I spent the whole afternoon organising and re-organising and creating a nice, neat go-to bookcase for whenever we are looking for our next book to read. I managed to fill it pretty easily and had to set aside some old favourites I’d dug out to re-read as they just didn’t fit as priority was given to stuff that hadn’t been read.

Of course it’s all semi-pointless now as we’re moving in the next 2 weeks and everything has to be taken out and packed and carted to the new house and unpacked and then re-stacked and re-organised again! At least now I suppose I can keep the books from the bookcase separate. The best part is our new house has a lot more room, and an actual official study/office type thing! So we plan to buy more bookshelves and hopefully get a lot more of our books out of cupboards! It also has a second living room, so when we fill the study with books, we can keep going!

Also, a new order arrived today – 12 books from Booktopia so I need to go through and try and find a way to fit them in!

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