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Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Monday, May 10, 2010

Spring Cleaning Tips

Books need a good organizing every once in awhile. While you are spring cleaning might be a good time to do it. I tend to have books all over the house. Everywhere I sit, I have books... in the kitchen by the rocking chair, by the bed, in the bathroom, by every chair and sofa in the living room, in the study, etc. If you need a good organizing, then it might be time to round up all your books in one central room. Have some boxes on hand and go through them one by one. If they are dusty, then take a damp rag and wipe them down and let them dry before storing them.

You will have books that you no longer want or need to keep and now is the time to stack them in boxes and sell them at the yard sale or take them to a charity. DO NOT just put them in the garage or attic and forget about them. You've made a decision so follow through!

You may have books that belong to the library or someone else and it's time to put them in your staging area (by the door) to take back to the library or take back to your friend. Even if you haven't had a chance to read them, if you haven't been able to read them in the last month or two, you may never read them so take them back. Always return books you've borrowed unless your friend tells you that you can keep them. If you lose them, then it's only fair to offer to replace the book and DO IT! If you procrastinate you will forget about it and you don't want to damage your friendship over a book.

As you go through the books, sort them in a way that makes sense to you. For instance: all fiction and non-fiction; or, biographies, mysteries, romance and cook books; or, John's interests and Sarah's insterests; or, reference material and reading material; or, "So good I have to keep it" and "To Be Read";... some people even organize by color. Whatever makes sense to you. If you've decided to keep them, then organize them in a way that makes it easy for you and your family to find them.

Now decide where you want to store them. If you decide to keep your cookbook collection then it makes sense to store them in the kitchen, especially around the area where you keep your shopping list and menu planner. *Note* Keeping a cookbook collection is really a personal choice now. It's no longer necessary if you have a computer. You can look up recipes all day long on the computer so having it in print in a book that you have to store is not necessary. But, if you have a special affinity, like I do, for recipes and cookbooks AND you have a place to keep them in good order, then, by all means, keep your cookbooks.

My current TBR (To Be Read) pile is kept in bookcases in my bedroom. Stan has a TBR pile on a bookcase in his bedroom although some books migrate to the bedside table once we get started reading them.

We have builtin bookshelves in our living room and we keep some of our nicer collections there. But our attic, which is a walkup attic so it's easy to get to, is lined with bookshelves and it's where I keep the books that I don't want to part with. They are really good books or history, biographies, etc that I don't want to lose. I'm silly that way and maybe, one day, I'll break down and clear all the books out. But, as a child, I couldn't get enough books and I always had to rely on the library because we couldn't afford to buy books, especially as voracious a reader as I am and was. So being able to own books has somehow meant a lot to me. I'll never forget when we reached a time in our marriage that I could actually afford to buy books. For awhile I bought all new books through Book-Of-The-Month. But, now, I feel guilty buying brand new books at such outrageous prices so I rack up at book sales, yard sales, thrift stores, etc. But, my books are fairly organized up there. I have a section for Christian non-fiction, History, biographies, mysteries, other fiction.

If you have children, then I guarantee you've probably got a lot of children's books. Sort through them. If the children have outgrown some of their books and you aren't anticipating having another child, it's time to pass them on. If your children have already read some and they don't mean a lot to them, get rid of them. Or, even let the children offer the used books to their friends. I know my Nancy Drew collection was hard come by and I loved it and I still have it. But I read a lot and I don't even remember all the books, so if I'd owned them I would have been able to easily give them up. I literally read every single children's mystery book in my hometown library which was hundreds of books, started with the "A's" and went through the "Z's". Although I enjoyed reading them, I don't remember them and so would not have needed to keep them. I'm sure your children are the same. Maybe they have a love for the Harry Potter books or the Hardy Boys or some science fiction books but the rest could be donated to charity or passed out among their friends.

While you sort your books and clean them up, it might be that those you want to keep need to have your name and address printed in them. You can get "Ex Libris" (From The Books of) rubber stamps or bookplate stickers made:

Ex Libris
John Doe
123 Main St
Anywhere, US

Or you can use address labels or rubber stamps. If the book means something to you because of who gave it to you, make a note of who it was, the occasion, the date. I've even been known to write "book review" in the back pages or you might want to give it your personal rating on a scale of 1-10. *Note* Get rid of the books that don't make it in your top 5 on your scale! In some books, I've found additional information on the Internet and have printed that out and stapled it to the back of the book. For instance, I might read a true crime mystery that is 10 years out of date so I look up the crime and the criminals to see if they are in jail, have been put to death, were they ever found, is there any info on the main characters, pictures of the crime scene, etc. If it was famous enough to have a book written about it, then you can usually find out more info on the Internet with Google searches.

If you loan your books out and you want them back, be sure your books are clearly marked (see above paragraph). You might even do a simple library list that you keep to remind you that Jane Smith has had your book since 12/31/2009 and it's been 5 months so you might want to call her and ask for it back. Yes, Jane Smith should have brought it back to you without a phone call. Yes, it's good manners to return books promptly. But you and I know that most people don't. They honestly forget and it gets lost under a pile somewhere and they didn't mean to, but 5 mos has gone by and they still haven't returned it. Or, they may have lost it or it got damaged and they are afraid to tell you about it. Or, maybe they are ashamed that they haven't had the time to read it yet. They may have forgotten who they got it from and are waiting for you to call and remind them. A call to remind is not out of place. But be courteous, even if they aren't, and don't get bent out of shape if you've lost the book for good. Don't loan out a book that you can't afford to lose! The price of a book is never worth hard feelings, anger, irritation and grudges. If they haven't had a chance to read it, tell them you would like to have it back and maybe they can get their own copy at the library when they have time to read it. Show good manners and kindness whether they have or not.

If you attend church, like we do, you probably have had Sunday School books, workbooks, notebooks, spiritual journals, etc. I do have a plastic box in the attic where I keep these spiritual books. They contain personal stuff because you've filled out parts, answered questions, etc. Once we've completed the class or study, I pop those books in the box clearly marked "Our Spiritual Journey". I have more than one box over the years. Those represent a lot of study, time, personal experiences, spiritual growth and I can't just throw them away. I have a place to keep them and they are easy to get to so I keep them. You may decide not to keep yours because they are too personal or you don't have the room.

Do you have an old set of encyclopedias and dictionaries and other reference books? Guess what? You don't need them any more. You can Google everything and use the Internet. I know they represent a lot of money. Someone bought them at one time and probably paid by the month. But they are never used, will never be used and there is no reason for you to store them any more. Unless you have a special sentimental feeling for them, get rid of them. Even if you play Scrabble, you can look up words in the online dictionaries and hear them spoken. You have dictionaries, thesauruses, maps, and encyclopedic knowledge for the taking and it's all on that little screen without having to take up 10' of shelf space. So bye-bye big heavy books! (OK, to be honest, my parents bought us a set of encyclopedias when we were real little. We used them a little until about high school when we needed more info and spent time in the libraries. Mom & Dad really sacrificed to buy those books for us and kept them all those years in their own little bookcase. AND I STILL HAVE THEM! I can't even take my own advice. I have a place for them, the bookshelf fits in the back of my entrance hall closet. One day, I'll get rid of them. I'm just not ready to now. )

For more information on organizing books, read my posts

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