One Reason Condo Living Sucks

Hello Melissa and Lotus recently posted pictures of how they manage their books. Lotus has a very asthetically pleasing solution. Melissa’s house looks pretty much under control, though I’m not so sure about her DH. They asked the following question: How do you keep your books organized? Always looking for a chance to humiliate myself, I thought, OK, I’m game, I’ll take some pics and show you all the disaster that is our book collection. We started out well, even having a custom bookshelf built to fit our little hallway, to make room for more books than store-bought shelves were going to afford. But, we live in a little condo, with no garage, no attic, and three readers. Ted’s more likely to get rid of a book once he’s finished with it than I am, but he’s still in no rush to do so…he keeps them for awhile. And he goes through spurts where he buys a lot of them.  Me, I have a lot of trouble parting with books. I mean, if I hated them, I think…maybe I could try it again sometime, when my head is in a different space…what if I like it more then? Can’t get rid of that one. Then there are the books that I loved. Would you throw your friend in the mud and dirt, kick them in the gut and spit on them? No. Of course not. That’s why I don’t get rid of the books that I love. I have so many books that I know I’ll never read…I bought it for a class, read it, and am done with it. But heck, I read it for my Master’s degree, and if I get rid of it, somehow I think people won’t believe that I HAVE a degree when they come over. Are you starting to sense the gravity of the situation here? Hey, I’ve made SOME progress. I don’t think I have any of my books left from my B.A., outside of that Howard Zinn “Peoples History of the United States.

All of this is my way of saying, our books are a mess. Maybe we’ll move someday, to a place where we can have a book room. A LIBRARY. An office. Ah, what a dream. To sit in a room, surrounded by books. In the meantime, this is what we are living with.


These are the books next to my bed. The ones I’m working on right now, or about to work on. Sometimes they get switched around, like if someone loans me a book, or I get one from the library or something.

This is the most shameful picture, because this is our bathroom closet. We ran out of space on our regular book shelves, and started cramming them in here. Willy nilly, haphazard, whatever fits. They are two, sometimes three deep here. And, um, we DID go through the house and send several boxes to the library last year.     

This is our hallway bookshelf. See how it makes good use of the space next to the staircase? See how books are starting to pile up here as well? Sigh. My books are mostly fiction, on this side, and organized alphabetically by author.  

This is the other side of the hallway bookshelf. This is mostly non-fiction, mostly Ted’s books, but some of mine are here as well. He has them by subject. Sometimes a book just gets crammed where it fits.  

Here are some of Maya’s books. See how neat and organized they are? See how the series books are up top, in order? Sigh. That’s my anal side coming out, and I WISH I could get the whole house that way, but it’s just too overwhelming for me, so I satisfy myself by keeping HER books neat and tidy.

Here are the books on the other side of her bed. She reads a bit and then throws them on the floor. When I ask her, she’ll clean them up and put them away, but only when she’s asked.


Last, but not least, Maya’s periodicals. I work from home, and I have a lot of payroll type binders that had to come home from the office with me. Where can they live? The only place is in her closet, since you know, condo living and all. So if you see some payroll books down below, don’t worry. She’s not a dork. That would be me. Her magazines were getting a bit unruly, though, and I had a shelf to spare, so this seemed like a good solution.

Whew. That’s our mess. How do you keep your books in your house?

15 thoughts on “One Reason Condo Living Sucks

  1. You know when Jackie O passed away, her son JFK junior said that his mom’s most treasured posession were her books. You guys are right up there with the very famous.

  2. Sometimes wordpress is frustrating. I don’t want these pictures and text to be centered, but they won’t move for me, and whole paragraphs get duplicated or deleted. Sigh. I’m going to bed. Maybe I’ll dream of having a house big enough for a library.

  3. your post made me feel a WHOLE lot better about mine. i had piles and piles of books, too, until i joined bookcrossing and took it’s motto to heart: “if you love a book, set it free.” check out my bookcrossing page sometime, it’s in my links. btw, that’s how i met lotus! happy, happy.

  4. We also have a ton of books everywhere in our house. We have several unruly bookshelves that I need to organize. The area around the computer is stacked high with books too. We even have books in boxes in our spare bedroom that we need to unpack. We’ve been living in this house for almost 6 years!!! I need to get my butt in gear!

  5. Mostly, they have been banished to the garage.

    We used to have two large bookcases filled, but that was before Mr. P and that room became his, so out they went.

    But, I’ve got plenty stacked on the nightstands and Mr. P has a nightstand and basket full, as well as some being hidden here and there. It’s frustrating, really.

  6. Looks like a happy place to live, surrounded by all those books. Mine are similar, but even a little more unruly since I’ve run out of room on the shelves and can’t bear to part with them and don’t have room for more shelves.

  7. Well, I have big built-in bookcases, upstairs and down, plus big brick and boards, two upstairs and one down, plus four purchased sets, two up, two down. Plus the books on the window seat beside my computer and on the top shelf of the computer desk. And, four boxes of books on the work table waiting to be cataloged so they can be shelved. There are no books in the bathroom and none in the kitchen, but otherwise they are on almost every wall of the house. Nine walls of books, I just counted. I don’t know what I am going to do when I outgrow these, which I will. I always do.

  8. Good grief, J, you and Melissa have an enviable collection of books, you make my little collection look almost paltry! 🙂

    I see you have “Year of Wonders” on your nightstand – I read it a couple of years ago (when Toronto had that bad outbreak of SARS), maybe it was just bad timing, but it kept me awake at night! The book has some amazing strong women as protagonists though – something that appealed to me very much.

  9. We were starting to have a “book problem” before we moved. Leah was forever trying to get me to dump off some books at the library, I was forever resisting. At the new house, I’m happy to say, half of the entire upstairs is our office, and there’s plenty of room for all the books and CDs and other assorted STUFF I can’t seem to live without…

  10. ah, the joys of condo living… i took about 200 books last year to an AIDS hospice and they were so grateful… it made me feel good too… i hired an organizer and she made me get rid of all the paperbacks… i got to keep the hardcover books…

  11. Aaaaah…condo living…enuff said. I’m lucky that I now live in a house with a basement. Most of our books are down stairs. Some are in my bedside cupboard/thingy…the thing with a door that looks like a small closet, but is attached to the bed set. That made no sense. Anyway, I find that unless the book is amazing, I won’t buy it, but borrow from the library.

  12. Thanks for the photo essay! I love looking at book collections. Your books are definitely under better control than mine.

    Right now I am trying to reduce my book clutter by (1)getting most of my day-to-day reading from the library; (2) buying only books I love; and (3) giving away/donating one book for every new book I bring in. I’m having mixed results (bookstores are too tempting!), but over time, at least I’ll have weeded out books I don’t care about.

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