The Sunday Salon: What to Do When the Bookshelf Collapses…Again.

The Sunday SalonNo, seriously, my bookshelf really did collapse.


A few days ago, I was working on a grant project in my home office when I noticed that one of my bookshelves was askew. This particular shelf is double-stacked and the plastic hinges simply can’t support the weight of the literary world that I have put on its weak hinges.

So, the shelf collapses every several weeks.

And every few weeks, I put it back together.

We book bloggers like to flex our virtual beer muscles by moaning about our crowded and overburdened shelves, about just how many volumes we have lined up on our TBR lists. We write posts like this one, usually around December 31 or January 1 when we’re all thinking ’bout a resolution. We swear that this is The Year We are Going to Read From Our Shelves. We create and join challenges to help us accomplish these goals we set for ourselves.

I am no saint. I am Guilty As Charged.

I can’t take the collapsing shelf anymore and I have no money to invest in a new one. Hence, it was time this week to do some weeding of the bookshelves.

Here’s what I used as my criteria for sorting. (I’m NOT going to post pictures, because inevitably someone will spot his or her most favorite book EVER in my getting-the-hell-rid-of stacks and tell me that reading said book will change my life and I cannot handle the guilt.)

1. I took a good look at my books and said to myself, “Self? Is this a book you can really see yourself reading someday?” If not, it went into the pile. In some cases, these books have been lingering around for years and may have been through as many as 3 or 4 moves. If I really get a hankering to read them in the future, I can get them from the library.

2. Mass paperbacks. God, these are such a pain in the ass, aren’t they? Half the time the print is ridiculously smallish or smudged-looking or too dark. Like Chunksters, they really do take up a lot of bookshelf room, Plus, they’re uncomfortable to hold – at least in my opinion. I got rid of a bunch of these.

3. Speaking of Chunksters, I’m rethinking my relationship with those bad boys. I simply can’t justify the amount of time that will be needed for reading a book that is 700 or 800 pages long. It better be damn good and be rockin’ everyone’s world. I got rid of one such book this spring; 3 more doorstoppers will be joining it from this most recent purge. Again, if I get a hankering to read the things, that’s what my Kindle is for.

4. Books by authors whose other books I didn’t like or thought were “just OK.” (It’s them, not me), You have them. I have them. WE know who they are. No need to name names.

5. Out-of-date reference books. C’mon, Melissa, the 2001 Writers Market? Seriously? Just a few things have changed in publishing within the last 12 years. I mean, just a few.

6. Similar to #5, nonfiction books about issues I no longer have. For example, a few parenting books fell into this category because I’ve reached the I Don’t Give A Flying Crap What Other People Think stage of parenting. (And, y’know, maybe life in general.)

I’m proud to say that this seems to be rather successful. I even – wait for it! – took down a Chunkster from the shelf this week.

Opened it up. Started to read it.

And hated it.

Into the donation pile it went.  Another one bites the dust. Whooo!

Meanwhile, the collapsible bookshelf? Still remains intact.

Thanks for sharing this post!

9 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon: What to Do When the Bookshelf Collapses…Again.

  1. Pingback: Book purging, oh yeah, baby! | Still Unfinished

  2. BookerTalk

    Hilarious image of the shelf collapse – did it glide gracefully down like some old drunken duchess or land with an almighty thump? Now I’ve read your criteria I must go and cleanse my shelf of those old ref books. A casebook on crisis communication from 2000 is probably a bit of out date now…

  3. RealBooks4ever

    How I wish I had your strength to do this! I have books I’ve been finding shelf space for since time began. There is actually a copy of Wuthering Heights on my shelf that I’ve carried around SINCE 1971 and I STILL HAVEN’T READ IT! My joining challenges to weed out the old stock have been fruitless because I keep buying even more books!

  4. Dani in NC

    I applaud you for culling your shelves. The process is a bit more difficult when your shelves are virtual like mine. Since the titles aren’t really taking up much room, I don’t have any incentive to pare down the 330 books on my TBR list :-).

  5. Jennifer

    Good for you!! It can be difficult to cull the shelves but it feels so liberating afterwards! 😀 Your bookshelf is grateful, I’m sure.

  6. Bryan G.

    1, yes. 2, yes. 3, yes. 4 ,yes. 5, yes. I think that’s a yes from me too. I did something similar a few years ago and still need to do more of this.

    But I was SOOOO looking forward to the photos! 😛 I really wanted to tell you what NOT to get rid of.

    1. Bryan G.

      Wrong emoticon by the way. Meant not to be smiling, but tongue sticking out…probably should have went with this ;). Completely kidding.

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