So many books, so little time…

I’m starting to think I own too many books…

1.Bookcases     2.bookcases

though I’m not sure how many is Too Many…

4.more books

more than I could possibly read in one life time, perhaps…

5. last one

certainly, more than I can keep track of…


More than once, I’ve brought home a gem from a charity shop only to discover I already own a copy. And often I recommend something to a friend, only to discover it’s gone into hiding. A couple of bookshelves are arranged alphabetically, but the sense of order soon descends into a chaos of anonymous boxes & To-Be-Read heaps. Then there are the archives… books I read to my children, books I read as a child, some dreadfully outdated and cringeworthy, but remembered with fondness & stowed somewhere I don’t have to trip over them on too regular a basis.

Whilst I defend any bibliophile’s right to say there is most certainly no such thing as Too Many Books, I’m ready to admit I currently own far too many for me. Though I tremble to type it, I’m planning a humane cull. It’s not terribly methodical, but nor was the way I amassed this lot in the first place. I’ve started by picking a random shelf, seizing a book and asking “will I ever want to read you?” Surprisingly, I’ve answered no more often than I’d anticipated. So long as I find a new home for this book, somewhere it can feel loved and useful, I’ve found I can set it free with minimal feelings of guilt.

How do I do this?

A very popular way of getting rid of books is to sell them online. This seems a perfect solution… your unwanted volume finds a loving reader & you earn a little cash to boot.

sproutOne downside is your book could fail to sell, doubling the rejection as well as calling into question your taste in reading matter. It’s worth persevering, but after reducing the price & relisting it a few times, you’ll be ready to give the pesky thing away for free.

Donating unwanted items to charity shops is generally a great idea. You benefit from a reduction in clutter, the buyer picks up a bargain, and the charity receives much-needed funds. However, charity shops are businesses and as such aim for a high turn-over of stock. They prefer good quality mainstream fiction, or valuable rarities… nothing tatty or well-thumbed. Just be aware that books which do not sell are destined for pulping!



Recently I’ve come across a book share shelf in my local train station. I’ve noticed that anything left here rarely hangs about for long, so I don’t feel guilty about dropping off my books and magazines & scurrying away. Sometimes book sharing shelves in stations, or even supermarkets, also have a donations box for a local charity. No threat of pulping, the book just sits patiently til it finds a new reader. Good karma all round.

Another way of passing on your unloved tomes to a more appreciative audience is to pop them in a Little Free Library.  A friendly sticker on the front invites you to Take a book, Return a book, Donate a book. If you can resist the first of this trio, well done… the net number of books in your house has diminished!

6. LFL


Whether you want to borrow or donate, why not check out your local Little Free Library. I’m not sure why, but there seems to be an exceptionally high number in Waltham Forest, East London.


Finally, if you like the idea of giving books to complete strangers, Bookcrossing bookcrossing-sample-labeltakes this one step further by adding the possibility of hearing back from the person who picks up your book. You only receive feedback from about one in ten of the books you set free & the recipients don’t always enjoy them as much as you did . I released an economics text book which was apparently used to light a BBQ!

So… in the past two weeks I have Bookcrossed, I have left novels on bookshare shelves & in Little Free Libraries & I’ve managed to sell one (of 35) listed on eBay. The overall book content of my house has gone down.

Just one small blip. I saw this on the train & I couldn’t just leave it there…


How to declutter your desk

There is much excellent advice out there on how to clear your desk which  I had intended to follow and comment on how it had left me ready to now face much darker corners of my cluttered world. The Before and After pictures out there showed me what is possible in shorter and shorter times if only I focused. There is though a weary but… I feel a failure.  I too can remove everything from desk except laptop and mouse and then put items back only if needed. But, …..I need to have a cupboard where I can put all that stuff I took off my desk as its left unsaid where it will otherwise have gone.

This blog is supposed to provide me with real solutions not photoshop masterclasses. So, here instead my attempt at Before and After pictures which are more subtle than the Space clear converts’ but the best I can do without that cupboard given the time constraint set.  In fact not so much an organizer’s  dream  more like a ‘spot the difference’ game.

Ah well, this was supposed to be fun , you get to play too. Go on can you find the 12 items which have been relocated in order for me to reach more easily my mouse . I did shuffle a few bits around too but they don’t count.

1a. desk before

2. Desk, after

Still looking ? Here I’ll give you some clues.

    • Stuff waiting to be recycled but don’t know where to take it
    •  Stuff waiting to be put away but have forgotten to do so as stop noticing it is there until need it and then don’t remember it is hidden under stuff on desk
    •  Stuff of potential use but no idea what to do with it
    •  Stuff that needs a ladder….
    • Free stuff and gifts
    •  Stuff bought from Amazon which was excellent value and good quality but …
    •  Stuff that has been replaced by newer stuff
    • Stuff I might need for a repair/ project/present /someday (delete as applicable)
    • Stuff to remind me to do a task.

Found them all ? Well my blogging time is up for today so haven’t time to put in link to solution. I will return but in meantime would love to hear from you. All correct entries will receive a Prize!! The gift every Stuffoholic desires –  Nothing , not even a voucher for nothing in a box.

As promised, I came back, here is link  to solution 

Tidy minds

This week, whilst totally failing in my quest to reduce the book content of my home, I picked up a little gem in a local charity shop- A Treasury of English Aphorisms. Published in 1928, it was packed with pithy one-liners such as “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Once these sayings would’ve been embroidered, framed and hung above the fireplace, but these days they are more likely to be superimposed on random images and posted on Facebook. Since my old book didn’t propose any clutter-appropriate aphorisms, I took a look online for something a little more current.

The internet was overflowing with quotes about tidiness, though it all became a bit repetitious…


Strangely though, this advice wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Victorian parlour. Just like the pious samplers of yesteryear, these soundbites extol the virtues of tidy surroundings. To achieve the tidiest of minds, it seems we need to tidy our desk, room, kitchen, house, space, etc. It all reminded me of that other old chestnut, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”

Now, I realise this blog’s purpose was to look at ways of decluttering my surroundings, hopefully making my life a tad easier in the process, but I’m not entirely sure I want a Tidy Mind. I certainly don’t want the guilt trip of being told my messy surroundings are holding me back in some way, as if the jumble in my kitchen drawers could have some calamitous effect on my thinking processes. And the idea that tidying away the physical clutter will also tidy my head seems a little, well, vacuous.

A recent visitor to my house looked around & declared that she preferred homes which have character… which I accepted as a compliment. My house is not messy, it has character! Furthermore, its inhabitants do stuff. Maybe there is sometimes a little too much evidence of this stuff being done- and maybe that is why I needed to write this blog- but I don’t want an entirely tidy house if the consequence is a tidy mind.

Moving on from the Tidy Mind memes, I discovered a quote far more to my liking:

Creative minds are rarely tidy

Suddenly I warmed to my untidy house. Here was a positive spin on my clutter. Though looking around my immediate surroundings, I also realised nobody in my family is that creative! I guess we do need to do something about all this stuff. Just nothing too drastic. And it has to be a positive move, not a self righteous clearing away of all the weird & wonderful odds and ends that make this place a home.

…which all goes to show, I’m an untidy person who-sort of- wants to be tidier, whilst enjoying my untidiness. I know, what can I do? Maybe a year from now, I’ll have the answer. In the meantime, I’ll take comfort in the fact that I’m not alone:

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”   Albert Einstein


Time to declutter

The day after the storm, amazing sound of thunder and lightning, distant rumble getting closer and then the rain. What you ask has this to do with decluttering? Well it meant when I went to google, the before and after pictures of tidy cupboards and clear floors seemed rather pointless in the face of the rage of the elements. Worthy as a step towards inner peace but in a way missing the essence of a clutter free life. Looked instead for simpler less materialistic vision, but first minimalist site I found today was so commercial and concerned with fonts and marketing they didn’t seem to see irony (or maybe they did) of their site mocking the ‘tips to tidy your drawer’ bloggers. I won’t say who as it’s not for me to judge others though blogging seems to bring out a competitive streak which is not helpful in trying to achieve inner calm.

Fortunately, a little more google foraging led me to this page, not how to get rid of things but instead Michele Connolly’s advice on how to declutter that to-do list. Seemed very timely as even this blog for pleasure was threatening to fall into the ‘demotivating’ category on my daily list along with my failed 5 a day attempt (that’s another story for another day).  I have had to make myself get on with writing a post instead of having numerous bright ideas. When a to-do list becomes a “cause of worry” list it’s not doing it’s job.

One-Thing-To-Do-ADHDNot going to repeat her suggestions but am taking away two thoughts. Be ruthless. Get rid of that task you are never going to do. Stop it cluttering up your head. Also, if it simply transfers each day onto the list, let that task go; do it or remove it. If it’s really important hopefully any fear that there is a consequence will stop the procrastination and it will finally get done. I’ve also decided that when the task is too big  I will just put on my list that bitesized chunk that can be done in a day. So, if 5 is to be the magic number then I’m aiming for a to-do list with no more than 5 items. A to-do list which I’m really committed to doing today so it’s not a ‘wish’ list pretending to be a plan.

Will return at a later date to let you know if this freedom to drop items from to-do list resulted in disaster or a good nights sleep.