How to shelve the book lover in you

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Written By Tracey Markos

And it’s July. Where has the year gone?

In Australia, July means tax time and cold weather. Both of which are excellent reasons to snuggle up under a warm blanket and lose yourself in a good book. If you can find that book you bought last month! Let’s look at how to shelve the book lover in you.

If you are a book lover you will own books. Not the electronic kind that you find on your kindle or your phone. Real books. From real bookshops and second-hand stalls. You lovingly choose them and bring them into your home with such high hopes. One by one they are stacked on your bedside table until the tower topples. A stalagmite of books rises from the floor in response. It’s time to cave in to your love of books and treat them with the respect they deserve.

If you have been following my previous months’ blogs, you have earned some reading time. Your pantry should be the envy of your friends, your linen press should no longer be giving you the sheets, and you should be breathing deeper and enjoying life more.

Before you settle in for that read (soon I promise), let’s give your books an organised home worthy of the words within them.

Bookcases come in many forms, from the traditional rectangle with adjustable shelves, to grand pianos gutted, shelved and wall-mounted.  Gorgeous, but not terribly practical. Storing your books needs to work for you on many levels.

Let’s look at some practical areas to consider.


How many books are too many?

Culling your books is cleansing. Over the years your tastes and interests have probably changed. Enjoy the process of donating your old books and refreshing your library with a new lease on life and knowledge. What a great reason to scour old bookshops in small towns, and op shops. Buying books and discovering new authors is a joy only booklovers truly experience. So out with the old and in with the new, and enjoy every moment.


Are you an alphabetical kind of ‘librarian’?

I have seen books stored in every possible way. Alphabetical by the author (that’s my choice), alphabetical by title, by cover/spine colour (one day when I’m brave), by genre, by size, and by lucky dip. It’s a very personal choice and can be a talking point when you have guests over. As long as you can find a book when you need it, or someone wants to borrow it (arrghhhhh = see below) then do whatever works for you and your storage choice.


 (arrghhhhh = see below) Let’s address this painful moment now.

The saying “neither a borrower nor a lender be” was about books. It wasn’t, but believe me, the sentiment is the same. I love my books! When a friend asks if they can borrow one, I write my name in it (I hate doing that a little less then lending) and I put a sticker (leftover from kids schooldays) on the spine with my surname on it. Then I bid it farewell, believing I will never see it again. That’s my default. If it comes back, there is happy dancing. Your lending policy is your choice, but you may want to take a leaf out of my book.


Time to be shelf-ish.

You have culled and sorted your books. Let’s get down to shelving this project. Let your imagination run wild. Get lost in the world of Pinterest ideas. You are only limited by your available space, budget and handyman skills. If you are renting, consider displaying your books in a way that makes them transportable. Try covering small sturdy boxes in pretty paper and stacking the boxes on a staircase or existing shelving. Remember books are heavy. If they are stored on tall shelves they should be anchored to avoid accidents. Boring (cheap) white bookcases will instantly look better with books, but they can be dressed up with decorative bookends, pot plants and fairy lights.

If you are lucky, and you have space, create a reading nook. Again, you are only limited by your budget. Second hand stores may have the chair of your dreams, or a bean bag may be your idea of reading heaven. Be selfish. The time you spend reading restores your energy and soothes your soul. It can transport you to another place, so be sure you have a comfy seat for the journey.

It’s time. Make a cuppa and snuggle in for the day. Turn your back on the tax man (temporarily) and turn on the heater and enjoy.

‘Cause next month we are tackling photos. The old, the new and the VHS too.