Messy Books – Organising your books

My boyfriend has bursts of tidy fever.  Most of the time this entails stuffing things into drawers and cupboards, never to be seen again.  On one occasion, he said, ‘Couldn’t you get rid of some of those messy books?’
It was as big an insult as, ‘I hope you don’t mind me saying, but those jeans make your bum look big…’.
Yup.  He actually said that.
He’s lucky I’m not a violent person.

I have nothing against reading on a nice, compact, tidy Kindle.  It’s a lightweight solution for taking loads of books on holiday, or having a sneaky read in bed with the lights off without disturbing your other half (whether they deserve it or not).  But I am most fond of old-fashioned, old school, woody-smelling, with a lovely cover, know-how-far-you-are-into-it, ‘proper‘ book.

I will occasionally lend a book to someone after I’ve read it, but only to the trustworthy people I know will return it. (Which is by the way unlike me – never trust me with your book – I’ll want to keep it).
I like the way books look, and occasionally I’ll re-read them. Good ones, I get really emotionally attached to. But since the boyfriend’s messy book comment, I have made more of an effort to keep them all tidy, after all they deserve to be treated well and looked after.  I do purge my books every now and again, decluttering those few books I really didn’t enjoy, and will never read or refer to again.  These fellas go to the charity shop where they no doubt will find a good home, while I make space for some new ones.
I bought some proper bookshelves – the type that lean against the wall – and promptly filled one, then two, now three. I have books neatly piled on top of the wardrobe in the spare room, and they fill the space up to the ceiling perfectly.  My bedside table has a small revolving selection, and I’ve managed to create a small tower on my dressing table.  The guest bathroom is also a safe harbour for my books, and great for my guests when they’re stuck for something to read.  Usually on the loo.  But we won’t go there…

Leaning shelves

Books wedged between my dressing table mirror and wardrobe.

There are book lovers out there who balk at the idea of styling your bookshelves, or lining them up by colour; I think they feel it means you’re not serious about the books themselves. I’m a designer by trade, and I find the visual order of storing my books by colour or size really quite pleasing.  I do however keep fiction separate from non-fiction, and art books in another room. You might prefer to line them up alphabetically, or by genre.

There is a happy ending to this story.  We’re undergoing a huge renovation on our house which is a very messy process. It will be gorgeous and worth it, I hope, and we are even going to devote one of the rooms to becoming a library.

It looks like I’m going to need more books…

Here are some ideas for storing your books, and some inspiration for your own little (or large) library.

Lots of very tidy books

Vitsoe shelves

Up the stairs?

Book corner


John Lewis:



IKEA (of course!):




All images are courtesy of Pinterest, and all the kind people who let people like me use them.  All credits for all of the images can be found on my Pinterest page.

Word Collector

As a writer, words are my tools.  I naturally gravitate towards simple, straightforward prose, but I’m always on the lookout for more tools to use.  God forbid if someone uses a word I don’t know the meaning of, it’s like a kick in the teeth, but I don’t tend to forget it once I’ve had my writer’s ego bruised. ( Grr.  Clever buggers.)  Unusual words have caused arguments too, and  whether or not the words actually exist.  (Thank God for the Google Gods for sorting out those arguments, dictionaries are heavy to carry around).

Yes, I am a logophile.  A lover of words. Continue reading

Sound or Silence: Music and Writing

Kurt Vonnegut listened to jazz when writing, Stephanie Meyer to Muse, and Stephen King writes to Metallica and Anthrax.  The Beatles are quoted as listened to by every novel writer from J K Rowling, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Salman Rushdie.
Conversely, Philip Pullman says that music ‘disrupts the rhythm’ of his writing, and Nathan Englander wears earplugs when writing to drown out any noise at all.  To listen or not to listen, that is the question. Continue reading

My Breton Addiction

I love Breton stripes.  A mainstay of fashion, unisex, and gender free!
I have a drawer full of these stripy tops (I even do a ‘Breton’ wash), as well as having a Breton clutch bag, and a Breton laundry hamper.  There’s some wallpaper out there too that I’ve got my beady eye on.  I definitely have a bit of an addiction to this simple stripe – one part colour, to three parts white, or vice versa.

So, where did the Breton top come from? Continue reading