Full Shelves, Happy Life

It will not surprise you that someone who names her blog “Living Unabridged” is in a serious, committed relationship with books. Books are so much more than just things to me and my family. Books are

  • Treasures
  • Adventures
  • Information
  • Beautiful
  • Useful
  • Nostalgic
  • Friends

We keep books in every room of the house, except the bathrooms. (And even in there you’ll probably find a magazine or board book or two…)
full shelves happy life: organizing books
Today I’m going to share our shelves with you (if you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen some of these before) and some of our strategies for managing so many books.

First, the heart of our home. My husband built this wall in our split-level house and together we did the built ins. (We made “built-ins” out of IKEA shelves.)
livingroom built in shelves
I’ve added a couple labels there so you can tell what types of books are there. The girls and I did the rainbow shelf treatment this spring.

It’s a strange way to organize books, because you never know what’s going to end up next to each other, but it makes us happy so we’re going to go with it for now. We pulled our selections for these rainbow shelves mostly from our stash of classic fiction and children’s classics.

Also in our main living space:

piano and books

You can find more books on the piano. These are my favorite hymn books and a few non-fiction titles.

Let’s move downstairs now, to our family / school room area.

reading corner

In this corner you can find more classic and popular fiction, most of our movies, and some non-fiction school reference material (including a set of encyclopedias, a dictionary, and our Kingfisher encyclopedias). On the bottom left shelf we keep wooden puzzles for the little folk. If you imagine these all dumped on the floor, you will have a better idea of what this corner looks like on a typical school morning.

crosley and books

Our library books are supposed to be in this 31 Gifts tote bag between these shelves. We keep our current school read alouds in the basket by our record player (one of my most favorite possessions).

Also downstairs:

expedit organized books

We joke in our family that my husband is trying to fill the house with games faster than I can fill it with books. This expedit shelf from IKEA demonstrates that tug of war. (Have you seen our 52 Family Game Nights Series? This picture might give you a sneak peek at upcoming posts!)

The baskets on top are part of my book rotation system. I only keep out History and Science books relevant to whatever we’re studying in a particular school year. So three of the baskets on top are for the other three years of History (since we do a 4-year cycle) and two of the baskets are for Science.

For instance, next fall we’ll start an astronomy unit and you can see in the center basket some of my astronomy resources I’ve started gathering. (If I see something for a specific unit I put it into the box whether it’s books, puzzles, manipulatives, or whatever.)

We also have a set of lockers downstairs. Each school age child has her own locker to hold her school work and books (and, let’s face it, anything else she wants to stuff in there).

But books are not just for the “school room”.

bedroom shelves

These shelves are on the wall in our bedroom. It’s quite a random collection of things (including that change bowl made out of clay and a basket full of cellphones and chargers).

These shelves are behind the door in the girls’ room:

girls' room shelves

I rotate several of these shelves, particularly the lower ones, to grab the younger girls’ interest. There are also some books (particularly series mysteries and Christian fiction) in the girls’ closet but…you’re not getting a picture of that closet today. {wink}

In the boys’ room:

boys room shelves

These are most of our picture books.

Board books are down low for short folk:

shelves in the boys closet

We have quite a collection of Sandra Boynton and Usborne favorites in the basket.

You can see that we’re happily surrounded. Last time I attempted an inventory the numbers were pushing 10,000 books (including those in my husband’s church office. I keep most of my Christian fiction there, for example).

My top advice for organizing a houseful of books:

  • Cull what you do not love or use. Especially if you get a copy you prefer or if you have multiple versions of a title.
  • Rotate seasonally. I didn’t show you my bin of seasonal books (DEFINITELY not picture worthy!), but the Christmas, Winter, Fall, and Thanksgiving books only come out in the appropriate season.
  • Group by subject, as able. Separating many of our books by era of History or topic of Science has been a great homeschool planning help. It also helps keep the books interesting for the kids. Books they see every day become overlooked.

But my top advice? Read. Read everyday. Make space for books. Treasure them but don’t treat them as too precious to handle.

Full shelves + time to read = happy life.

How do you organize your books?

To see other book organizing methods check out:

Dover Books
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