Day 26: Books and Magazines
A new study conducted by Pew Research early in September 2016 reports: “Americans today have an enormous variety of content available to them at any time of day, and this material is available in a number of formats and through a range of digitally connected devices. Yet even as the number of ways people spend their time has expanded, a Pew Research Center survey finds that the share of Americans who have read a book in the last 12 months (73%) has remained largely unchanged since 2012. And when people reach for a book, it is much more likely to be a traditional print book than a digital product.”
What about young households? With social media connectivity, one might think millennial homes wouldn’t be as cluttered with books and magazines as would, say, a baby boomer home. Think again.
“If you imagine millennials are just young people entranced by their cellphones or tablet computers, you might want to think again. According to a new study, 92% of college students would rather do their reading the old-fashioned way, with pages and not pixels” (LA Times).
The question then remains… what to do with the inevitable collection.
Here are a few suggestions. Let’s begin with magazines.
Step 1: Eliminate
It has to begin with elimination. It’s hard, I know. When I donated all of my Martha Stewart magazines from the beginning of time to the library, it wasn’t a pleasant experience. But it had to be done. We were facing a multi-state move and I had boxes of magazines I dearly loved. Parting was not sweet but it was the right decision. I consoled myself with the idea that most of the content I loved would be available on the internet. And it was, and is. If I have a particular need to go back and look at particular issues, large libraries keep amazing periodical archives. It can be done.
The first step is to set aside magazine issues you love and are not willing to part with. Stack them up. See what you’ve got. And then eliminate the rest. Libraries are great places to donate past issues.
I’m not fond of the “1 in, 1 out” theory of organization, simply because sometimes it isn’t that arbitrary. However, I’ve settled for this: I have subscriptions to cooking and home decor magazines. They’re inspirational and informative. But I only keep the issues seasonally. And then I either recycle or donate or pass along to a friend. I have a specific location for those issues in my meal planning area.
I also keep Thanksgiving and Christmas issues I particularly liked. And I have a bin for those.
Step 2: Know your limits
Knowing your storage limit helps make informed decisions about what to keep.
Step 3: Storage
The magazines you are keeping, organize by title, and then year, and then month. Create a dedicated storage area and container for these issues. Magazine holders work great, as do some baskets designed for the purpose.
If you love books as much as we do, this is difficult. We’re the ones always shopping at the library sales, perusing new release titles and timeless classics. And our growing collection shows our love of the medium.
However, as it all things, there is a balance. Again, knowing what your storage limits are, helps make the decision a bit easier.
My husband and I have moved many times during our marriage. And with each move, the number of book boxes grows. I collect cookbooks, he collects westerns, we collect anything and everything historical in nature from crafts to presidential history… to regional history.
However, during our last move, there was a box of cookbooks I couldn’t part with. They were subsequently left in the storage unit. A year later when I had carved out a place for the remaining cookbooks, I discovered they had all become ruined with mold.
In my desire to save, I had lost. A hard lesson learned, but a productive one. The new rule is that titles only stay if there is room in our library or dedicated bookshelves.
Begin with asking some questions posed by HGTV… which will point you to a decision on whether it stays.
Step 1: Questions
When was the last time I read this book?
Will I read it again?
If a reference book, is it current? If so, have I consulted it in the last year?
If it’s a cookbook, do I use it? Hint: the presence of food stains indicates a keeper.
Is this a textbook from my old school days?
Is the book a classic?
Does the book have intrinsic value — is it a signed copy, first or collectible edition?
Is the book out-of-print or hard to replace?
Is this a book I’ve borrowed and need to return?
Step 2: Sort into Collections
The books that will remain in your library need to be sorted by collection. As they are in a library.
Children’s books belong on low shelves in the children’s area or room
Reference books belong together (dictionaries, encyclopedia, and so on)
Separate novels and fiction works entirely. I like to categorize fiction by genre, keeping leather classics together and separating the rest. Locate in a library where it will be easy for you or a guest to find an interesting title on a rainy stay-at-home evening.
Non-fiction books need to be categorized by subject, as in a library. The goal is to find subject matters quickly, whether that be politics, travel, history, biography and so on.
Step 3: Create storage
Dedicate an area in your home to your main library. If you don’t have built in shelves, create a library with freestanding bookshelves available at all home stores or online at Amazon.com and others.
Objective: to create a usable and organized home library that contains your resources.
• Begin with magazines and sort into piles — a keep, a donate, and a trash/recycle.
• Immediately eliminate those slated for recycling and box up the donations. Make a plan as to when you’ll donate these items.
• Create storage for magazines you plan to keep and organize by collection, and then year, and finally by month. Place in designated area.
• Books. Gather books from around the house that aren’t currently in a bookshelf or library. Bring them to the location where your central library will be or is located.
• Determine which books will be kept, and which will be donated.
• Organize remaining books by subject, as in a library.
• Clean and thoroughly dust shelves and books that will be re-organized back into the library.
• Organize books into newly cleaned shelves.
• Place children’s books in the children’s area, and set a couple of favorite books you plan to read on a nearby table. Plan a night in the near future to sit by a fire or drink a cup of tea and dive into your reading material and thoroughly enjoy your newly organized library.
GET THE BOOK:
Easy Steps to an Organized Life in 31 Days or Less (Amazon.com)