In addition to being an obsessive reader, I’m also an obsessive book hoarder. As in, I have hundreds of books I will probably never read again, but I can’t bring myself to give them away or sell them or recycle them. Maybe it’s because my maternal grandmother has an art book collection that takes up most of her downstairs wall space in the form of tomes squeezed into full-to-bursting bookshelves. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, and I wouldn’t want to do with someone else’s book what I hope no one is doing with my book. So as you can probably imagine, our bookshelves look a little something like this (except less color coordinated):
While I implied above that book hoarding might be a family trait, it would only be on my mother’s side. My dad lets books slip into and out of his life – reading them and then passing them along – unless they are some of the few he’s happy to read again and again. The bookshelf area of his home is, as a consequence, tiny, but size doesn’t mater. And yet, I think that’s why I’m so hesitant to part with my books – even the ones that haven’t brought me much pleasure other than hastening the passage of time. I think I am afraid of someone coming into my home, seeing no bookshelves, and assuming that I don’t read much.
But even this strikes me as odd. Because the truth is that some people don’t read much for pleasure anyway, and there’s nothing wrong with that. They just enjoy other things. So why does the idea of someone pegging me for a non-reader make me feel so queasy, and furthermore prevent me from de-cluttering our right now extremely cluttered finished basement (which it should be noted is home to walls of bookshelves)? At this point in my life, I’m visiting the library for books more often than buying them, so it’s not like I’m adding to my collection. I’d wager that most of the books on those shelves have been with me since just after college. Some of them are even textbooks!
Do you, lovely readers, hold on to relatively unimportant books with a similar zeal? What’s keeping you from parting with them?
Does anyone else have this problem? I just cannot seem to go looking for creative, innovative bookshelf designs without getting totally sucked in. I end up finding curvaceous bookshelves and slanted bookshelves and bookshelves that are nestled into staircases. Even if you’re not a big reader or prefer to return books when you’re done reading them, an awesome bookshelf can still be a thing of beauty. (After all, you can put wine on a bookshelf.)
It was in some bookshelf-induced Internet wanderings that I discovered this gem designed by Josefin Hellstrom-Olsson of Beckmans College of Design. While not strictly useful, I do kind of like how there is space in all of the “books” for one or two slightly smaller books. And I think creating this in anything other than plain white would lessen its impact – as it is, it makes me think of ghost books.
When I first saw the Akanbe Folding Basket by designer Houziyou Takashi, I was already in love. Part storage container, part play mat, the Akanbe also happens to be absolutely freakin’ adorable. Utility plus cuteness… cutility? How can you not like that? And I like it even better now that I found this description of it:
I’ll be fine also surprisingly heavy, magazines and accessories organized, easy to store children’s toys. Matt will use when playing as a spread, as it folded when put away are clear.
Smile♪ When you have a basket of cute, cute looks just like a hand that has Akanbe. Just to laugh it easy out there is no tongue. Thanks are Akanbe Bello, I have a painful hand basket.
Assemble felt like a piece of origami, it 留Mere button eyes, and made the basket. Not only fashionable and cute, which depending on how many ideas are useful and fun basketball.
Do you suppose that was Mr. Takashi’s original description of the Akanbe Folding Basket?
Turning a book on your bookshelf or a CD on your CD rack is fine if you’re planning to put it back within a day or so, but if you’re a slow reader or reading a giant book or the sort of person who wants to listen to the same song or album until it makes you (and everyone around you sick) then you need a solution with a little more style.
For example, these book and CD separators designed by Japanese artist Hiroshi Sasagawa. His Animal Index can be used to mark your place or to divvy up your shelves into distinct sections. It strikes me that the Animal Index is one of those little things that one could DIY without too much trouble, though I know mine wouldn’t look as polished as these.
The wonderful and lovely Tiffany wrote with this query:
Um, Miss NTB? Do you take requests? If so, may I request a home entry on incorporating kids toy storage into your living room? I mean like, serious storage. Not just one or two cute baskets for decor. We have the world’s smallest living room, which is now also the world’s worst decorated (thanks, kid-proofing). I have been TRYING to come up with something somewhat stylish and utilitarian, but I end up with dumpy and cluttered. I WOULD LOVE YOU FOR A BAZILLION YEARS.
A bazillion years? I like the sound of that. Of course, before I could effectively answer Tiffany’s question I needed to know just how small the world’s smallest living room actually is. The answer? About 14’x12′, which I think is about the size of my own, so I can definitely sympathize with the very real fact that a tiny space plus childproofing plus toys can equal a major bummer of a room. The good news is that you don’t need to be all LOOKIT MAH TOYBOX!
Ever notice how people congregate in the kitchen during parties, even if all the food is in the dining room and you’ve set up a darling little bar on a side table right by the front door? Science has yet to discover why guests will stand for hours in the kitchen while all the chairs (moved into other rooms for just this reason) sit lonely in the living area, but there must be something magnetic about kitchens because it’s not just people who cluster there.
Things mysteriously find themselves in the kitchen, even when the front door is nowhere nearby. I myself am writing this at a kitchen table that has an embarrassing amount of stuff on it – a diaper bag, class notes, a decorative plate my MIL gave us as an engagement gift, craft paper scraps, an non-working cell phone, and a copy of will making software The Beard and I have yet to open.
Can you feel the waves of shame emanating from this post? All I can say for myself is that I’m usually quite the neat freak!
The kitchen dump, you might call it. Rare is the house that does not have an area where mail gets left and keys are tossed, and for whatever reason, this spot is frequently in the kitchen. (Note: If your dump is not in the kitchen, the following advice still stands.) What’s nice about the kitchen dump is that all of those envelopes and your purse and whatever end up in the same place, so if you can’t find the water bill or your wallet is missing there is a good chance it’s there in the dump.
What’s not so nice about the kitchen dump is that it usually looks messy. If you have an unexpected visitor, the contents of the kitchen dump gets crammed into a drawer, leading to further disorganization. And finally, the kitchen dump can become so psychologically overwhelming that cleaning it up it seems impossible.
I’m not suggesting you do away with the kitchen dump, since it serves a purpose, i.e., having a kitchen dump means you don’t have to focus on cleaning and organizing the second you get home. I am suggesting you prettify your kitchen dump. Get some pretty baskets and spray paint them some dynamic color. Put up a few hooks for your keys and even your bags if you have the room. Easy, particularly if you have the space to hide it away in a cabinet.
Hidden or not, make sure you have space for your mail and your briefcase and all the other stuff you typically have in your hands when you walk through the door on a normal evening. If you have the space, you can even set up what one blogger calls a kitchen command center, which is basically a workspace right there in your kitchen.
Have I mentioned I am now working in my kitchen until some renovations get underway? No one needs a kitchen command center more than I do right now.
I’m a sucker for keeping things neat and clean, to the point where I’d rather sacrifice sleep to straighten up and wipe down the counters before bed then wake up to dishes in the sink. So you can imagine that I spend an inordinate amount of time reading articles like “The 10 Habits of Highly Organized People” (which appeared in O Magazine). I can’t get enough. In fact, it’s probably a little unhealthy, but I don’t care. So what if they parrot the same tips over and over? It’s good to have a reminder, and even better, I have my own tips to share, right here, right now! What follows are five of my very own tips for clean livin’.