Wednesday, January 22, 2020

From a child I was fond of reading...

The title of this post is part of a line in Benjamin Franklin's autobiography.  I suspect this is true for most readers - that we became fond of books in childhood.  When I was old enough, I was allowed to walk what was probably close to a mile from my house to the public library and I would always haul home an armload of books.  

We didn't have backpacks in those days, but maybe I carried a bag of some sort.  I don't remember that part clearly.  But I remember the walk. And the busy road I walked along. It was a 3-lane road.  First I had to cross the road; then I walked with my back to the traffic.  Thinking back on that, I know I wouldn't have let my young kids make that walk.  But it was a different time when I did it.   Isn't that the way it always is...

I don't know that I intentionally set out to collect books as an adult, but collect them I did.  It's easy to collect things.  Much harder to let things go.

Yesterday's de-booking was a success in that I pulled over 50 books off our shelves, but I didn't exceed that number by as much as I kind of hoped.  Yep.  It was harder than I thought.

I managed to make a decision about 62 books, and tomorrow the majority of those are leaving the house - most going to the Friends of the Library booksale, with a few being posted to Amazon or PaperBackSwap.  Selling books on Amazon is a mixed bag with their fees, but sometimes I can get enough money for a book to make it worthwhile.  Sometimes it's really worthwhile - like... a few weeks ago I sold a used textbook of youngest son's and today have $26.00 in the bank for it. 

Anyway, none of these books are going back on the shelves, and one way or another they're going to soon make their way out of the house.

A few were duplicates.  Some duplicates were intentional (as they may have been used in learning situations - with just our family or for co-op classes), but most were complete accidents.  Duplicates happen.  And they happen more, the more books one has - and the more scattered the books are around the house. 

I'm thinking right about now is a good time to go ahead and tell you a story...

When I was looking through the pictures in the link in yesterday's post (to an old post here), I saw a book that wasn't on the shelf anymore.  As I looked at that picture, I instantly had a feeling of regret that I had gotten rid of that book.  I was so regretful I went right then to Amazon to see about ordering another one.  There was only one available and the price was better than I thought it would be, so I put it in my cart.  At that point though, I decided to sleep on it and see how I felt about it in the morning.

It was a book I had used some (actually probably very little) when homeschooling my young children, but the regret I felt was that I imagined it would be a fun book to share with grandchildren someday.  The book is called Parables from Nature.  Nevermind that I have other similar books, this one always stood out as a unique one.  A classic of a sort. 

Anyway, I didn't order the book last night and this morning I decided I could wait and order it at some later date.  

Well, just a bit ago I started to walk around with my camera to take some shots of books left on the shelves and by now you can probably guess what I found...

Last autumn I had created a little vignette with this cross stitch picture I'd made, and I pulled a few nature books from the section on the shelves where they normally are kept, added a little pumpkin and that took me to Thanksgiving.  I didn't do any decorating this year for Christmas, so after Thanksgiving I put the autumn things away, but just left these books and picture sitting where they were.  It's January and it's still a sweet little arrangement.  And knowing me, it will probably stay like this until next autumn.

The real point I want to make is, this is a perfect example of why consolidation is an important tool in decluttering.  Had I been super serious about downsizing books, I would have gathered books together into categories so I could see what I had.  And this isn't the only example.  Yesterday I found (to my surprise) duplicate copies of at least five books - three of them separated from their twins, either on different shelves or in separate rooms.   I'm happy to say the duplicates of all of those books made it onto the discard pile. Edited to add:  After publishing this post and looking through the pictures again, I found a 6th duplicate!  

Anyway, the de-booking has concluded, and if you're interested, feel free to scroll through the pics below to see most of the books that are left on our shelves.  I'll be honest...  now that I've created this post, I'm torn between thinking this was a really weird thing to do and thinking it was an insane thing to do.  Yes, I do realize those are two points on the same end of the continuum.  

If you like to browse books, be my guest in perusing mine.  If you don't, well...  don't say I didn't warn you.  It's not too late to turn back.

If you choose to continue, and if you click on the pictures, they should enlarge significantly - even larger than if I make them the largest size I can in this post.  That's how it's worked for other posts of mine, anyway.  And if you click on a picture, you can just scroll through them all without bothering with my commentary below. 

Okay!  Here we go...

This bookcase doesn't have a clear purpose, so it's a collection of various genres and where most of the children's books ended up:

In the built-in bookshelves in the family room I keep inspirational,  and religious & cultural commentaries:

Bible Study books:

Nature books (most of these are keepers from homeschooling years).  I like to imagine someone will think they're cool books again someday:

If you turn around from here, on the opposite wall I have a bookshelf filled with mostly fiction.  

And now I ask you...  do you see something funny in the picture below?
I completely missed it until I was looking through the lens of the camera.  I found another duplicate - two copies of Calico Palace!     I do know there are two copies of The Witch of Blackbird Pond above, but that is intentional.  Other than those two I thought I had removed all the duplicates.  Do me a favor and let me know if you spot any others.  😄

Okay, now moving over to an alcove just off the family room, there are more shelves holding books that don't seem to have anything in common:

In the dining room is a corner shelf that's held these books for approximately forever:

And yes, we do actually use both Scrabble Dictionaries. Sometimes both at the same time.  It was a accident when we discovered we had two.  And we've never once considered getting rid of one of them.      

Alrighty, then moving into the living room we have more inspiration, spiritual, biography, history...  okay, another hodgepodge collection of books:

The books above are normally pushed to the back of these deep bookshelves and our Bibles are stacked in front like this:

In the living room is also a desk/bookcase where I keep music -related books and cookbooks:

I'm not going to any heroic efforts to show you every cookbook title, but you can see I have more than I need:

In our bedroom is a shelf dedicated to my books (I say that like I don't have complete control of most of the other bookshelves in the house)

The books below that are turned on their sides are Christmas books (several Spirit of Christmas's and others):

And between the bedroom and my craft room, these are most of the craft books I have (they're all skinny so I turned the pictures sideways to make the spines easier to read):

Hubs does have a nice collection of WWII books in a glass front bookshelf, but he has a number of models in front of the books and I'm just not interested in moving them to take pictures.

And I just realized I forgot to take pictures of the books in hubs' new den.  I think I counted a little over a hundred in there the other day.

And that's about it. While every single book isn't pictured, this gives you a pretty good idea of what kinds of books we collect (or have in our collection at this point).  Truth be told, we've had a lot of various books over the years.  I have no interest in reading anything violent or graphic that will give me nightmares, but I do like reading perspectives that are different from mine, and enjoy biographies and nonfiction more than my bookshelves at the moment might indicate. 


So, did anyone else count their books yesterday or today?  It really doesn't take long to just touch the spine of every book and count them quickly.  More importantly, I'm curious if you've looked through your books and found some gems you'd forgotten you had.  

This exercise has interested me in some books I hadn't paid attention to for years, so hopefully I'll get them read and move some more out that way.

I'm not sure what I've done, but my shoulder has been very sore for a week so I'm not knitting or crocheting much.  Or even doing cross stitch.  I'm thinking it might be a perfect time to get reading all these books!  

“From a child I was fond of reading, 
and all the little money that came into my hands was ever laid out in books.”

― Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin*

*Author image and quote sourced from


  1. My goodness Becki, you certainly have a lot of books yet but they do represent who you are and what you've done. I have moved a lot so have sorted and donated a number of times. Nowadays I use a Kindle a lot but collect mystery dvds. I have hundreds of those that need to be culled. I did recognize some of your keepers as being the same titles that used to grace my book shelves. Now that the grandchildren are older I have a lot of really nice children's books that I should do something about but can't bear to part with.💖

    1. Oh, you've reminded me that I didn't snap a picture of my mysteries (including cozies)! I would love to get the number of books we own down significantly more. I'm saving a few books for sharing with future grandchildren, but I know there's no guarantee they'll be interested in them. With none of my sons married even, I have trouble imagining a time when these theoretical grandchildren would be too old for the books I'm saving for them. lol

  2. My first 'job' was as a volunteer in the teeny little library in the closet village and I used to ride my bike 5 miles to get there to spend the 2 hours the library was open doing whatever was needed. My first real job was as a secretary in a high school and I worked half days in the library there....and then, when I joined our local quilt guild, I was their librarian for five years. That means books and libraries have pretty much been my life! It was such fun to peek through your bookshelves and take note of a number that I either have on my shelf or have had in recent years. Now, I have a question for you....if you were about to be marooned on a desert island, what 3 books would you take with you (besides your bible)?

    1. That is a great question, Mary Anne! I'm going to think on it a bit and maybe answer you in an upcoming post. I'm not a big re-reader of books, so I will have to choose carefully. I loved reading about your first jobs - and how they surrounded books. I would have been in heaven.

  3. What a wonderful wide range of books you have. You have them arranged so nicely by topics.

  4. Wow! Good for you! I am curious where you go to sell books on Amazon? Is that where the Thrift Books come from? You did really well getting rid of so many books!

    1. To sell books on Amazon I just set up a seller account once upon a time. I post a book into the system, someone (maybe) orders the book, I package it up and mail it to the person who ordered it, then it seems like it's a couple of weeks when I receive payment. It's become less "profitable" though because Amazon's fees are pretty high. And I'm not a prolific seller. I don't search out books for the purpose of selling them on Amazon. I just use Amazon to recoup some of what I've spent on books I no longer want to keep. That said, the market is pretty saturated with books in general, so my best sellers have either been old, somewhat obscure books. Or our sons' textbooks. Those are so expensive that one can often sell it for half the "New" price and still make a good deal of money. We shopped and then sold most of our sons' collect textbooks on Amazon. And I've donated far more books than I've ever been able to sell - just to be clear.

      I'm pretty sure Thrift Books is it's own thing, but they may have a storefront on Amazon. I don't know.

      In some ways I didn't make a visible dent in our books, but it was a good exercise. And it made me take a look at my books again, and be inspired to read some things that have been sitting there neglected. I think it's time for me to move on to sifting through something completely different from crafts and books, though. I look forward to seeing what next inspires me.

  5. I so enjoyed your book tour. I think it takes a few years of whittling stuff down and I do think it helps to categorize things and every year go back through looking and slowly get rid of stuff. Books are really hard for me to part with, but I must say I love looking at my old ones. I will go in a room and sit down and sometimes and just browse through them. My goal is to bring less new ones in. I am using the library for fiction more now. Occasionally I will buy one after I read it because I know the kids will love it. We need to all get a kindle setup and then borrow for it. Although I will say all three of us are not electronic readers. We prefer holding the book in hand.
    I lived in a rural area during my elementary years and looked forward to the bookmobile. We moved to a town with a library when I was in 6th grade and I had Mama drop me off weekly. I just loved it. Books are a big part of me too.
    Your yarn is my fabric. It took me awhile to sort through it all as well. I did finally realize I had more than I could ever use and I boxed up some and got rid of it. I felt better after it and I still have more than I could ever use. I think we are just at the age and stage where we realize that we have a lot of stuff! I will never be a minimalist though. I kinda like my stuff.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed perusing the pictures of my books, Sandy. And thank you for the thoughtful comment. In looking through the pictures I was struck this time with how much I prefer the older books (even though I have a lot of paperback fiction at the moment). There's just something rich about reading an old book. I was given a NOOK years ago and I've read a handful of books on it, but I much prefer holding a book and turning paper pages to swiping a screen.

      I've always wished I had experienced a bookmobile. I think it would be so much fun anticipating its arrival and then looking through the treasures it brought. :) I am grateful that I was taken to the library as a child. To have the library in my oldest memories is a gift.

  6. I see Edith Holden on your shelf, a great favorite of mine, lovely naturalist and botanical illustrator.

    Thanks to this post I have another armload of art books to donate to the library when I go in to my knitting group today. You're having a good influence!

    1. Tucked behind the Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady is Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. These books have made me fancy keeping nature diaries. I'm so glad to read that my writing about book downsizing has had any positive impact on someone else! And it makes me feel less like it was weird or insane to take and post all these pictures. lol

  7. WOW Becki that is a LOT of books!!! I was never a book collector, though when you asked "did anyone count their books...", I got up and counted my cookbooks...138...oh my...congratulations on the de-booking!!! I love that little vignette you made with your cross stitch!

    1. I never imagined how many cookbooks you might have, Rain. But now that you've told us, I'm thinking of COURSE you'd have that many cookbooks! I have 60-some (I forget exactly how many), but I'm not at all surprised you have double that amount. It makes sense that our books would reflect things like past times, passions, and interests. And your interest in foods and cooking is all of those! And inspiring to so many of us!

  8. I imagine that if I came into your home for a visit, I'd not be a very good guest because I'd be lost in your library of books and not come out for days. What a wonderful collection you have (and kind of funny about all the duplicates and that 'missing' nature book!). Great job being able to part with so many . . . always hard to part with pieces of our collections!

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed perusing my bookshelves, Lauren. :^)

  9. I forgot to count them, but definitely doing that today. I’m intrigued by the title of one of your books ‘the only three questions that matter’ hmmm that makes me wonder what the 3 questions are. I have or had Eats, shoots and leaves, I think I donated it but can’t remember. I loved knowing someone else gets wound up by rogue or missing apostrophes. I spotted what looks like the same book next to each other on one of the stacks on top of a table but maybe they are part 1 and 2. I think I would find so many books overwhelming and feel guilty I wasn’t getting around to reading them. In my last clear out I struggled to get rid of 2 books from a trilogy of children’s books. I was missing the first one...anyway I ended up ordering a copy of the first one when I ordered a book on weaving. I figured if I can’t part with the other 2 I may as well have the full set! Some books I think I regret donating, but for no logical reason. Anyway, I am going to count them and make a list. I think if I had as many books as you I’d get obsessed with getting them in the same order the library would have them, group, then alphabetical haha. I can’t imagine how many days that would take.

    1. I had to go look for the book you asked about (The Only Three Questions That Count). I'm thinking this must have been FOL booksale find that I didn't spend any time evaluating before buying. It's a book on investing and while it might be an interesting book to skim through before moving out, I'm pretty sure (looking at it a bit tonight) it's not something I'm likely to read. So I think I've found another book to rehome! Thank you!!!

      I do try to organize my books in some sort of logical manner so I can find something I know I have, but I'm not obsessed to the point of sorting them according to library standards. Though I will say... if I give it much more thought I can see the merits of doing that. lol

      I am overwhelmed to some degree with the number of books we have vs the number of years I can (even optimistically) expect to live to read them. That's sobering and I'm just trying to do something about it.

  10. Well I have done my count and I’m surprised...a total of 132 including the 2 on order. (23 x travel books!!, 20 x non-fiction varied subject, 19 x gardening!!!, 14 x childhood books (my dad just sent them to me last year as they are sorting their bookshelves), 13 x arts & crafts, 10 x self help/exercise, 9 x photography, 8 x poetry, 8 x bible/dictionary/thesaurus/foreign, 6 biographies (although really 4 books, I have duplicates of 2 as they are signed by co-author Charley Boorman), 1 x Atlas and 1 Novel! So 130 titles.

    1. Thanks for coming back and telling me, Liz. It's fun to read your breakdown and number of books in the different categories! BTW, I forgot to tell you the three questions in the book you asked about. They aren't self-explanatory, but they are: What do you believe that is actually false? What can you fathom that others find unfathomable? and What the heck is my brain doing to blindside me? Interesting questions in and of themselves (in a number of situations), but he devotes a whole book to these questions and how they relate to investing.