While Jonny and the kids were away at the fossil festival, the main project that I tackled was sorting through and reorganizing books. That wasn’t really the way I planned to use most of my time, but in the end I am glad I did it. I posted a photo near the beginning of the process, and Dwija asked if I might share how I organize books. She asked, “By topic? By reading level? Fiction vs. non-fiction?” So I thought I would give you guys a little book tour. My book organization skills are not necessarily something to emulate, but we do have shelves in lots of places, so maybe this will be more of a “How to store lots of books in a small house” post.
This is our main living area. (I feel I should add that the couch typically has a slipcover. It was in the wash.) Jonny installed shelving on both sides of the big windows many years ago.
On the right side, the bottom shelf has children’s books. Mainly collections and a few others that I keep together that my kids frequently reread: All our Holling C. Holling books, D’Aulaires’, and lots of fairy tales. Above are some of our larger compilations of stories of the saints, and many of my books on faith and Catholicism, along with a random assortment of books too tall to fit somewhere else!
On the left the bottom shelf holds a somewhat random assortment of children’s fiction and non-fiction. My collection of vintage Gene Stratton-Porter, sits next to The Story of the World. I guess there’s not much in the way of organization there. Above are most of our books on farming and homesteading. There are goat books, beekeeping books, gardening books, herb books, and lots of others along those same lines. I also keep all of our tree books here including the ones that are part of the tree and forest study that I put together many years ago.
(Jonny moved a light switch that was in the center of this wall next to the bookshelves, leaving a giant hole. We decided not to patch it, because it would make a perfect spot for an observation hive. Until we get around to putting bees there, we put this old photo of our dog Okefenokee over the hole. I had this photo framed for Jonny’s birthday the first year we were married. I haven’t framed much since. It’s kind of funny, especially since I can’t even manage to frame photos of our kids, and it brings back memories to have it hanging on the wall again.)
This is our Little Oratory, which is in the same room as the shelves above, and inside I store my kids’ books on our Catholic faith and the saints.
I donated quite a few books to the thrift store during my organization process, because it really is possible to have too many, and I removed more than half of our children’s picture books from the house. These are stacks waiting to be moved out to our storage building. We have too many picture books, and Silas spreads them all over the house.
I bought him his own small shelf where he can keep about a dozen books at a time, and can easily put his books away when he is finished with them. (We are still in the same room with the built in shelves.)
Just on the other side of this wall is a teensy-tiny bedroom and outside the room there is a dark little entry way and a random high shelf where I keep my craft books. It’s nothing pretty to look at, but it serves its purpose.
Inside that teensy-tiny bedroom there are shelves around the ceiling. Right now, Seth and Gabe store their books and things there, but sometime this year it will become the girls’ room. You can see more photos of these shelves here.
This is our piano room, on the other side of the chimney from our living room. It is essentially just one big room with a chimney in the middle. I reorganized this side while Jonny and the kids were gone (still in process when I took this photo), because up until the day they left, he had his office equipment here. (You can just barely see the edge of the piano in the bottom right corner.) I moved all of our field guides into the little shelf next to the desk. (I am often asked what our favorites are, to which I have to say, “All of them!” Though I often suggest North American Wildlife as a good starting point. We are on our third copy, it is so well loved in this house.
This little old shelf that sits next to the plaid chair was my mother’s as a child. I keep mainly children’s poetry books here, but looking at this photos, I see a few books that shouldn’t be there!
In the bedroom at the top of the stairs, the one with the never-ending triple bunk project, most of our juvenile fiction is stored on a set of shelves that Jonny built into the wall.
Across the room from the bunks (all eight feet or so of it) Jonny snuck a little shelf into the back of the stair rail. There will be a twin bed here and that shelf will make a nice little spot to store books.
Next to the triple bunk room, on the other side of the chimney, is our bedroom. We have one simple shelf that runs the length of one wall. Most of my fiction is stored there. Many are books I have already read but kept because they are classics that I will share with my kids one day, but there are also books there that I hope to read someday.
For the longest time our vintage Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books have been tucked over our bedroom closet.
And then, tucked between our closet and the wall separating our room from the triple bunk room, years ago Jonny installed a set of shelves against the chimney. These books are arranged in a variety of ways. Some by topic, some because they are special to me and I don’t want them destroyed (old picture books). Some because I don’t know where else to put them.
The two bottom shelves hold the only picture books in the house now. The kids are welcome to rotate them with the rest of the books that are housed in Jonny’s shop/office.
I keep one semi-empty shelf here as well for books out of place, books that I am either currently using, or need to put away.
And finally, this. This is the chalkboard wall in our kitchen, and it has been home to all sorts of different furniture over the years. I just took this photo this morning, to show you the latest. This hutch belonged to my friend Sarah. She painted it to match my kitchen cabinets because she liked the color, and she stored craft supplies in it. Her family is moving and downsizing, so I inherited it. I’m sure you can imagine how special it is to me. Inside the doors are our homeschooling books. The open shelf contains my cookbooks, and tucked on the shelves below, behind the baskets, are early readers along with some books that don’t belong there (of course).
And that is the end of this book tour, though perhaps a more accurate title would have been “Ginny’s Shelving Tour.”