Creative Ways to Declutter Your Book Collection

Standard

I’m a reader. I can’t help it. I usually have four to six books on my nightstand with active dog-eared pages because YES – I am reading all of them. But, with my love of the written word comes some really challenging storage space issues.

When I started on the road to living life as a rational minimalist, I found the first area I needed to tackle was my book collection. If you, like me, find this one area of clutter (or shall we simply call it ‘overabundance’??) an area with which you’d like to start discarding items, I’m here to share with you my most creative ways of managing my book collection:

I donated a lot to my local library. When I first tackled the collection (nearly 300 books…) I just donated everything I decided to let go to my local library. That way, if I really, really, really want to go back and re-read a book (I rarely do this, by the way) I can simply go check it out. Six years later…I’ve never looked back.

I bought an e-reader. Kindle, Nabi, Galaxy, Nook…all the same when it comes to book storage, in my opinion (Pipe down, Techies! I’m sure there are differences. I just don’t care about them.) I really only use mine for storage because, truthfully, I admit it: I’m not crazy about it and could most likely live without it. But, I do use my e-reader specifically to by e-books by bloggers I love and store electronic versions of the books I just want to keep as reference. I rarely “read” on my e-reader. I know, it is kind of weird and possibly classifies as ‘electronic hoarding’ but this (along with my eight-million Pinterest pins) will just be something I let myself do for the sake of being human.

Store up, under or in something else. A lot of people buy bookcases to store their book collections. That makes sense on an elementary level, right? But we are not elementary anymore! We are clutter-conquerors. We don’t keep what we don’t need! We do not have furniture that requires dusting unless it is necessary. So, for the books with which I simply can not part, I place them up on wall shelves and use them as decor (This also cuts down on, um, decor).  I also use books under items to elevate lamps, place picture frames on or simply create a nice little arrangement of staggered candles.

Now, I know you’ll never part with all your books. (I’m odd, not crazy). And, I also know there are some you don’t want on display. (I am fascinated with serial killers and I collect books about some of the most infamous weirdos. LOL. I don’t want the neighbors calling the feds after seeing my books about Ted Bundy.) So, for those books – I store them under the bed in clear plastic bins (nicely labeled with my label gun, of course. Gosh.). What’s the point of having all that space under there anyway if you can’t hide stuff?

And my FAVORITE all time way to clear out my books is…

I have a library in my yard! I participate in a Little Free Library program which lets me share my books with others, but yet, keep them close to home – at least for a short while. There are about 6 in my city and it is a really fun way to share books with others. If my books start to get a bit ‘stale’ – I just switch them out with another LFL close by me. If you are one of those grouchy types and mumble “Get off my lawn” a lot, well, then maybe you can just share your books with someone else in your city who has taken the plunge and placed a nice little library in their neighborhood.

The library my hubby built for me!

The library my hubby built for me!

Simplicity in Cast-Iron

Standard

castironskilletLast winter my mother-in-law gave me a cast iron skillet. I’ll admit, I wasn’t quite sure if this was a blessing or a curse. I had just gotten rid of about six skillets a month before, and plus, I was one of these “non-stick” skillet kind of gals. It wasn’t that I wasn’t thankful…I just had no idea what I’d do with this skillet or if I even needed it. After all, how many skillets does a family of two & 1/2 really use in a week? (Um, in my house…not many.)

Turns out, you only need one skillet. This one. This cast iron skillet is the bomb! I love it. And here is why: It makes my life more simple.

One skillet scrambles an egg, sears meat, and pan-fries all the things a skillet is supposed to scramble, sear and fry. But…I also bake in this skillet. Yep. Cornbread. Biscuits. Cake. You can bake yummy goodness in the cast iron skillet at any temperature. In fact, the reason I really love this skillet is because its multi-functionality allowed me to get rid of two baking dishes.

There are also many health benefits of cooking with cast iron.

As luck would have it, my addiction to those clever non-stick skillets has subjected my family to toxic fumes and substances. Aluminum pans aren’t all that great for you, either. Obviously the cast iron doesn’t have those nasty substances.

Frankly, I don’t really seem to have much trouble with things sticking to this skillet. Why? Believe it or not…It is nonstick. Surprisingly, a preheated cast iron skillet rivals the qualities of non-stick cookware, as long as it is properly seasoned and cared for.

In my seventh month of pregnancy I was diagnosed with mild anemia. It was my mother who said I should really embrace that skillet, and when I went back for my annual exam, no more anemia. The iron in the skillet could have been responsible – because, well, I’m not really much on eating stuff with iron in it.

Lastly, in an emergency (such as a freakish snow storm that drops 8 inches over night in southern Missouri), cast iron cookware can be used over any heat source. In fact, most of the food and survival tips on my “Be Prepared” Pinterest board require nothing more than a cast iron skillet and some foil. (Of course, I hope someone here knows how to start a fire, because I was absent that morning in Girl Scouts.)

So, in summary, thank you very much, Mother-In-Law. I love this skillet and all it has added (and subtracted) from my life. It really is the simplest item in my kitchen. And, dear reader, if you still aren’t convinced, check out these ten reasons to own a cast iron skillet.