Tackling Clutter: The Bookshelf

One of my happiness goals was to become more organized. Several closets, bookshelves, and drawers stuffed with paper have nagged, niggled, and nudged my conscience for lack of due diligence, and I consider myself a rather diligent person. I have successfully managed to tackle one of those unpleasant organizing tasks:  our bookshelf.


Over the years, we’ve given away or sold many of our books to try to downsize our rather prodigious collection of books. In fact, we’ve managed to mostly reduce our books to a lone bookshelf where years ago four were necessary. Who am I kidding? The books weren’t ours so much as mine; my husband was not the amasser of books. I’ve rather successfully moved from buying books to borrowing books, which has eased the accumulation. Still, our bookshelf was busting at the boundaries and more than a little disarrayed. I struggled to find books that I knew I had kept, and the bookshelf was an eyesore that greeted you upon first entering the house.

To begin organizing, I pulled all the books off the shelf and grouped them by like piles. I also considered whether the book was a book that I still wanted to keep or a book that belonged in my husband’s classroom. I ended up with a small pile of books to give away, but I must acknowledge that I stashed a few books that I was too sentimental to give away or may still want to use at some point in my bedroom closet because they would not fit. I may never go back to reading Ancient Greek, but I can’t yet part with either those or my Hebrew textbooks. After making these decisions and dusting off the bookshelf, I grouped the books by theme and put them back on the shelves. My cat was not helpful during this process; he yowled for attention and rubbed up against the piles of books, toppling them as I tried to organize them. He seemed pleased with himself.

As part of organizing my bookshelf, I polished my silver Kiddush cup, which I’ve kept on the bookshelf since we bought this house. The cup has been tarnished and in need of a good polish—another niggling task I’ve been meaning to do for ages. After polishing it, I was astonished by how shiny it was; I had forgotten its luster. Even more embarrassingly, my husband had never seen its sheen. I brought it to him, and he marveled, “it is silver.” The Kiddush cup now is a visible joy from atop the bookshelf where before it was dark and overlooked amid the clutter of not-quite-shelved books.

So, I’ve kept several resolutions thus far:  I organized the bookshelf, made reading lists based off the contents of that bookshelf, did this organizing work while my husband was working on his schoolwork, and have thus far read Regulus and started Winnie Ille Pu in Latin. As another bonus, I have the joy of using a lovelier Kiddush cup on Shabbat. This happiness project of mine is off to an auspicious start!


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