Where the Books Are

Where are the books in your household?

Growing up, I saw both my parents reading a lot.  We have tons of pictures of me as a baby pretending to read, or being read to.  My parents are divorced, and both their houses are full of books.

I have what I consider a “medium” amount of books (over 1500 books are mine, in our 2BR apartment; but my husband has at least an additional 1500, judging by comparative shelf space).  My mother has more space for bookshelves than I do.  My father has fewer, but more overstuffed, bookshelves than I do.  Non-fiction is in his living room, fiction is in the guest room; Terry Pratchett and J.K. Rowling are in his bedroom.   My mom has fiction and non-fiction in the living room, with religion, spirituality, and self-help in her bedroom.  My sister and her husband have carefully alphabetized their shared books across their living room (starting with A), dining room, and guest room.

I have fiction and non-fiction in my bedroom, with various piles of books stacked haphazardly in the living room, kitchen, etc.  (And cookbooks in our kitchen; Mom’s cookbooks are in her pantry, and I think Dad’s are in his pantry too.)  I have a couple “emergency” books in a cabinet in the bathroom.  They just ended up there.

Also, sleeping in a room full of books is cozy and it gives you something nice to look at while you’re in bed.

#2 has 3 large bookcases in the bedroom, two in the living room, one in the entry-way, two in DC1’s room, and 1 in DC2’s room (DC1 has more wall space, DC2 has more windows– DC2’s books also take up the bottom two shelves of the entry-way bookcase and one of the living room cases– toddler height even though zie is now 6 and reading chapter books).  There’s also some books in the great room, but those are mostly related to the games that are also in that room.  And a 3 shelf bookcase in the informal kitchen for our cookbooks (which are also piled in the kitchen).  Basically wherever there is wall space there’s a bookshelf.  Sometimes I feel like we have too many windows…  Oh, and the guest bathroom and our bathroom have little book nooks.  Ours usually has a book for me and one for DH.  The guest bathroom usually has the latest alumni magazine or two and something with short funny bits like cakewrecks.  DH and I also have piles of books on our nightstands and there’s a pile of read library books usually next to the door to the garage.  The kids scatter books everywhere as well– on the couches in the great room, on their floors, on their bathroom floors, on the living room ottoman, all over the dining room, etc.  It’s pretty homey, I think.  I need to go read something now.

I like talking about books.  Where are yours?

28 Responses to “Where the Books Are”

  1. Matthew Healy Says:

    At the moment most of our books, which we recently moved more than 1000 miles (which was NOT an inexpensive process) are still in boxes following a recent move. We are gradually digesting this move. With the changing weather, gaining access to fall and winter clothing has unfortunately had to be given higher priority than gaining access to books :-(

  2. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    Our books are on bookcases in every single room and also spread across every flat surface/ the floor/ windowsills….

    • Leah Says:

      yes, this is us! Books are on bookcases in the living room, dining room, office, a few in the guest room, on flat surfaces in our bedroom, in the kids’ room, on the landing outside our bedrooms . . . pretty much everywhere. Our couch usually has at least 3-4 books on it at any given time.

      We really like books and own quite a number. And I’ve culled regularly over the years. I just love being surrounded by books.

  3. bogart Says:

    Mostly in libraries. We are fortunate to live near many good and/or convenient ones and I try very hard not to own any books at all, though there are some I simply cannot bear to be without. We each have a ~3 (?) shelf, half-height bookshelf for our books. I mostly read on, and much prefer, my phone (or tablet) as the books are then handy for me everywhere, and it keeps track of my place for me.

  4. rose Says:

    My books are almost entirely at the library these days. When I was raising children their books were in large book shelves in their rooms. I have never, ever, been able to afford my reading habit and have luckily always lived near big public free libraries. I really appreciate what Carnegie did for public libraries, I believe they are foundational to democracy. They are why I can afford to read today; owning books for me is outside my budget, always has been.

  5. delagar Says:

    Like you, we have run out of wall-space for bookshelves. Since we don’t use the fireplace, I have started expanding bookshelves across the hearth. That’s not going to help MUCH, though.

    We keep our books shelved alphabetically, except for poetry and music and movie books, which all have their own areas.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      #1 hates that we’ve done this, but we bought some extra shelves for our bedroom bookcases so they fit popular paperback sizes. (She hates this because some series for which we own the hardbacks are broken up with the hardbacks in the living room bookcases.) We still have bigger books on their backs and sides, and of course stuff on their sides in the front of the books that are shelved, but it has increased what we can fit in the bookcases we do have.

  6. chacha1 Says:

    I used to have books in kitchen cabinets, linen closet, living room bookcases, dining-room bookcase, big buffet cabinet in the den, assorted smaller storage cabinets, bedroom bookcases, and bedroom closet. I have divested so many that now my books are all in 3.5 bookcases. Plus my Kindle is usually in the bedroom. :-)

    Lots of reasons for going to mostly e-reading, not least among them the fact that we aren’t homeowners and there really was a point at which I had to question the amount of rent money we were spending to house books rather than humans.

    • teresa Says:

      Same. Almost all my books live in my e-reader (B&N) or ipad (amazon). Maybe 8-10 years ago I had 9-10 standard Ikea bookshelves full + some half-sized shelves + books crammed all kinds of random places. After a few iterations of donations I’m down to maybe 350ish physical books. We (ok mostly my husband) built a king bed that lifts up to make a storage space underneath (like I think a lot of RVs etc have) and built bookshelves into the base frame, so all the physical books live under the bed but easily accessible. And they all go in strictly alphabetical order except for series which obviously go in series order and a handful of textbooks at the end grouped by subject.

      Having books from the same series in different rooms would make me lose my mind.

  7. bogart Says:

    Unrelated, this looks like it might be another good (political) thing to send money to —
    https://www.dataforprogress.org/blog/2018/10/16/data-for-politics-29-give-smart

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Very cool!

      I’m sending stuff to my local races too.

      This weekend is an important one for getting out the vote. If I have time tonight I will type out my plans for a post tomorrow. But in short, I bought a bunch of postcards (not etsy worthy ones!) and postcard stamps and I fully intend to use at least some of them this weekend! (Also I’m going to send around an email to the majors in my department when early voting starts with a bunch of links for them to find out about local candidates, where to early vote, etc.)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Just donated! Thanks for the link!

  8. Tulip Says:

    I also grew up in a house full of books and for many years, I had full bookshelves in every room. Then I got a kindle. I got rid of the books and discovered that, with the books gone, I no longer had allergies. So, all my books are now electronic. I also have less wrist pain because the kindle is lighter even than paperbacks. I miss books and I worry about format changes or Amazon just deleting my books, but I love breathing easily more.

  9. ocmags Says:

    We have a long front hallway with five bookcases, mostly filled with my own books (1.5 shelves are for my toddler daughter and 1 shelf are my husband’s old engineering textbooks). I also have about half a shelf in my office of library books, and my toddler has about half a shelf in her room of mixed library books and her own books. My stepdaughter has maybe 2-3 books in her room. (Neither she nor my husband are readers. I’m hoping that the toddler will join me in being more of a reader.)

    I also have 0-10 ebooks running, depending on the moment and what’s available via Overdrive. There’s a lot of dreck in our library’s ebook collection, but I sometimes pull from them for a reread and sometimes get lucky with new additions to the collection. And sometimes I read the dreck because I want to read SOMEthing. The dreck generally doesn’t get finished, though. It’s just really poorly-written, and I hit the point at which I can’t stand it anymore.

    I feel like I don’t have enough books, but some of it is that every time I move, I cull the collection down to things I still like and enjoy rereading. Plus my “want to buy this” standards got more stringent after college. I don’t want to spend money on and commit to shelf space for a book and then find out that it’s not something I want to reread. There are a number of authors whose work I’m good with buying without having read the book first because I know I enjoy nearly everything they write. There’s a much bigger category of only-from-library authors– ones whose work I’ve never read and ones whose work are once-only reads.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      My want to buy standards have gotten more stringent as well… I think that’s a function of time rather than money, since I certainly have more money how. But that’s odd how I’ve changed on that front. I used to buy bags of potentially iffy stuff from used bookstores, but no more.

  10. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    Where are the books? Everywhere! 64 shelf feet in our bedroom, 59 in son’s bedroom, 38 in the living room, 35 in an alcove off the dining room, 152 in the “book room” (a converted garage), not counting the double stacking on many of these shelves, nor the piles and boxes of books that have not been shelved, nor the work my wife has brought home (repairs and cataloging for a school library). We have some additional shelf space we could convert to books, if we found somewhere else to put the stuff currently on them—but probably not enough to eliminate the double-stacking and unshelved books.

    One of these days I’ll have to make a database for my collection, as I often end up buying used books that it turns out I already own, because I can’t remember which ones I already have in a series.

  11. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    I have had to winnow my collection over the years many times, sadly, because of moving and being a renter. I know that books I left behind at the old house are lost to me forever. But I didn’t have that many books to begin with because for many years, I could only afford them if I collected enough credit card rewards to get bonus gift cards for bookstores, and even now I rarely buy books but my two large bookshelves spanning the width of a wall are chock full of old paperbacks collected over the years, and graphic novels gifted to me for birthdays and/or Christmas or bought from the 50-75% off booths at Comic Con. They all now live in my office/library for safety – it’s the room with the most consistent temperature and least moisture. They used to live in our bedroom and I miss that but this arrangement makes the most sense.

    It’s been a couple years since I picked up physical books, this year I’ve bought e-books for the library’s collection instead so that I can enjoy them digitally and so can other people.

    JB has zir own collection in zir room but ze likes to browse my books and pretend to read them as well.

  12. slnoonanj Says:

    I don’t have a strong preference for the right way to organize and store books, but I have a DEEP aversion to organizing books by the color of their spines. Any time I see that I think – not really a reader. Maybe I am wrong, but to me, books don’t need to be organized by spine color to look beautiful.

  13. Debbie M Says:

    Our cookbooks and music books are in the dining room, with piano books in the piano bench. My best books are in the living room and other reference books are in the office. My library books are in the bedroom, except for the ones that are finished that are in the to-go section in the living room. My boyfriend’s best books are in the special bookcase he made for them in the hall with other fiction also in the hall and living room. His reference and even more fiction are in the office. He has magazines in the bathroom and living room.

  14. Mel Says:

    Fun question. So every room has books. The family room has four walls of bookshelves with a break between a set of bookshelves for the sofa. The living room has a bookcase. The kitchen has a custom bookshelf for displaying the really special books. Every room has somewhere between one and dozen stacks of books. You can touch a book without standing up from pretty much every point in the house.


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