I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Monday, June 27, 2011

Taming The Stacks

I adore books. On our summer vacation this year, I bought thirteen of ’em. My Christmas list is mostly a long list of titles. Growing up, I would finish a dusty book from my grandpa’s basement, love it, want it, and make my younger brother start reading it so that when we left to go home, Grandpa would give in and let us take it. (He finally gave me most of his collection. Sweet man.)

Problem: I live in a tiny house. My husband was a ministerial major—his book collection might be even larger than mine. Did I mention we live in a tiny house? I have mastered the art of rearranging shelves to accommodate as many literary gems as possible. And, when our ever-evolving collection doesn’t fit, I have to come up with other solutions.

As a writer, I’m sure your collection keeps growing as well, and you just might struggle in this little area of your life. So today’s post revolves around this oh-so-profound subject: what can you do with all those books??!

Decorate with them.

The possibilities are endless! You can start with rearranging your shelf space, of course. Play with their covers—shelving according to color, covering with paper to give a uniform look (like they do here), or painting the cover itself. You can build end tables with them—double-stacking and topping with a decorative tray. Use them in vignettes (in a cute basket along with some candlesticks, or stacked with a lantern on top). You can even turn them into wall art (hanging children’s books from trouser hangers, like they do with photos here).

Share the wealth.

Maybe you’re not so good at making casseroles for people in their time of need. Put together a basket instead—a trilogy you think they’d enjoy escaping into, along with some music to listen to, a blanket to cuddle up under, or some gourmet coffee to drink while they read. Or use book giveaways to drive traffic to your blog. Or pass along a stack to an aspiring writer or a broke college student.

Check with your local library or the closest prison to see what their policy is about donating books. Check with a Christian school in your area to see if they have room on their shelves for the books that don’t stay on your keeper shelf. Drop off a stack at a nursing home, or see about sending some in a care package to the troops.

Or, if you can’t bear to give them away for good, become your own traveling library. :-) Whenever you get a new batch of books, take a stack to a friend or a shut-in. This keeps your collection rotating, so it’s not building up on the floor, collecting dust bunnies. Plus, you might just get them hooked on some of your favorite authors, and next time they’ll be the one to loan you the latest novel by Jenny B. Jones.

Recycle them.

If they’re not in good shape, hardly readable, or they were the least-selling book of 1927 and are just taking up space…find another use for them. Make bookmarks out of the spines. Use the pages as framed art or wallpaper, to make wreaths or gift tags or origami, to decoupage glass vases. Use a hollowed-out hardcover to make a purse or an altered book. (I attempted the latter. My craftiness could use some help.)  Make Christmas gift wrap or décor. And so much more! Here’s another link just to give a teeny bit more inspiration.
There. That should be enough ideas to clear the floor of your office. I think I’m off now to decoupage the refrigerator. (Um…Just kidding.) Your turn: What do you like to do with your book surplus? Or what’s the coolest way you’ve seen books used in décor?

Jenness Walker


  1. Oh Jenness, we truly are "bosom friends!" I have so many books. I mean, I have a lot of books. I just keep buying bookcases for them. Most are 6 feet tall and I have them categorized.

    One has all my writing books, including any book that might be useful to my WIP. Since my husband (a children's pastor) and I teach Creation (vs. evolution) we have a whole bookcase devoted to dinosaurs, Creation, geology, paleontology, evolution, and fossils, including textbooks and children's books that are full of evolution lies. I have two bookcases full of American History (mostly the American Revolution and the Civil War.) Finally, we have one for home school books, two for Christian fiction, and one of classics/antiques. Oh, and both of my boys have bookcases in their rooms full of their books. And at some point I will need to go into the garage and unpack the boxes of books out there.

    Wow. We have a lot of books. We live in a pretty small house as well, and my husband has started to complain about the books taking over. I will be checking your links, Jenness, for ideas. And I will offer a couple as well.

    Amazon. No, not for buying more books! (Although...) You might actually makes a little money if you are willing to take the time to add your books to Amazon and make trips to the post office every time you sell one.

    Bookstores. Again, don't buy. Trade! Some local bookstores will buy back your books for in-store credit, or even cash. We have a couple of those where I live. If only I could part with my books...

  2. What a fun post, JP! I adore books. When hubby's grandmother died, he bought her bookcase from the estate for me. I treasure it because of where it came from and his knowing about my love for books. Off the top of my head, I can count at least 10 bookcases in our house. That doesn't count the bags and boxes of books I have in my attic.

    I have many books I just have not had time to read yet. I've decided to do book basket giveaways when I have my book launch party in November. Why not spread the beauty in Christian fiction with others?

    I use old books in my crafting. I've seen book page wreaths, letters, cards, and scrapbook pages. They're gorgeous.

  3. Oh, one more thing--since I received a Kindle for Mother's Day, I'm buying more ebooks than paper books to help cut down on my shelf space. There are some authors whose books are automatic paper buys though.

  4. Clever and inciteful, Jenness. I'm just trying to figure out when you made a quick visit to my home and saw my bookcases--next time come when I'm home :)

  5. WOW, Heidi and LJ!!! You've got me beat! Of course, some of my hubby's books are in his office, so that helps.

    I think as writers, anything that has words on it draws our attention. Decorative signs, stenciled pillowcases, anything made with book pages... :-) I just love 'em.

    My stacks are growing, Anonymous, and I need to do something about them, so I promise I did not break into your house. :-)

  6. I have 5 bookshelve full of books, and can't part with a one! I do loan some of them out, but the one who gets one of my books has to sign their name in blood....or leave a $10 deposit. lol I don't know how many books I've lost because someone forgets to return one.
    Great post, Jenness

  7. What a fun post,Jenness! I thought I had a lot of books until I read about yours, Lisa's and Heidi's collections! We have two 3.5' by 9 feet floor to ceiling book cases filled with books. I have a collection of books waiting to be read sitting on two small shelves in our bedroom, I have bins of children's books from my teaching days, books in the kids' room, and lots of books in the playroom. My kids love them too. :) Oh, and then there's my hubby's office with tons of books. Okay, we're a book-loving family.

    I loved all your ideas for recycling books. :) I do loan mine out. I usually get them back, but in the times I haven't, I have decided that those people need them more than I did. :) I don't yet have the courage to tear one apart to use in crafting. I'll have to consider that, though.

    Thanks for the fun post!

  8. Love your ideas, Jenness! I have a friend who has an end table made of books. Fun! I literally have bookcases in every room of my home!

    However, I am pretty proud of myself for recently downsizing on the number of books...I gave some away to friends, donated some...mostly 'cause I can't fit another bookcase into my limited space.

    What's been the biggest lifesaver...my Kindle. Ahhh, I love it. Though, like Lisa said, there will be some authors whose books I will always need to buy in paper format...:)

  9. I love books. Love the smell, the feel, the escape...LOVE them! But like you, my house won't hold them all. I have kept my all time favorites, then donated to the library, and gave many away. Oh, and I get alot on Kindle now. :)

  10. So creative. I, however,am craft-challenged. I did see a photo of a wreath made from book pages. I asked my daughters, who are crafty, to help me make that and they said they would.
    And, yes, I own a Kindle. My husband begged me to buy one because he was tired of all the To Be Read piles around the house.

  11. Share? My books? With other people? Seriously? *gulp*. And Kindle-ize our library? Oh, my! Nothing against my best friend, Amazon.com, I love the feel of flipping through pages.
    I have to confess I have an entire bookcase with books on my To Read list.
    Great Post Jenness!

  12. I admire your crafty inclinations, although like Beth, I am craft-challenged.
    Still, I've reached the point where my five bookcases are jammed. I'll be able to add another book only if I remove one first. Sigh. Such difficult choices. I don't have a Kindle or Nook yet, but when I get one it will be because the alternative is to build a bigger house. :-)