Thursday, May 18, 2017

cleaning out the bookshelves ~ and my current reading pile

You might recall that last month, I mentioned I was working on a big project - cleaning out my bookcases. I'm proud to say that I finished last week...weeding out and donating. What you see below is the second round. I had already donated eight bags of books to a local library when I took this photo. I ended up getting rid of about 500 books!

(Later edit: These were books I hadn't even read! They were all from library book sales and

Here we are with the finished project. Sorry for the poor photo quality - it's hard to get good photos in a dark basement. Also, my treadmill is in the way. It was too hard for me to move it completely out of the way - that sucker is heavy! If you take a look at the middle section of the bookcase, the last four shelves are now filled with photo albums and scrapbooks. Previously, most of the photo albums were on the shelf in our tiny hallway coat closet. And, amazingly enough, there's actually an empty bookshelf on the bottom right!

Speaking of books, here's my current reading pile. I've included the description of each book from amazon, in case you're interested in any of these.

 A Mindful EveningAt the end of a busy day, sleep can sometimes prove elusive. But that doesn't have to be the case. By integrating meditation into your nighttime routine, you can set the stage for quality rest. A Mindful Evening gives you the tools you need to power down at night. With nearly 200 inspiring quotes and short, easy mindfulness exercises, you'll learn how to end your day with a clear head and calming energy. These simple moments of awareness, healing postures, and meditations can help soothe your soul as you conclude each day and prepare for a tranquil, restful night's sleep.

The Middlepause: On Life After Youth:The Middlepause offers a vision of contentment in middle age, without sentiment or delusion. Marina Benjamin weighs the losses and opportunities of our middle years, taking inspiration from literature, science, philosophy, and her own experience. Spurred by her surgical propulsion into a sudden menopause, she finds ways to move forward while maintaining clear-eyed acknowledgment of the challenges of aging. Attending to complicated elderly parents and a teenaged daughter, experiencing bereavement, her own health woes, and a fresh impetus to give, Benjamin emerges into a new definition of herself as daughter, mother, citizen, and woman.

Self-CompassionKristin Neff, Ph.D., says that it’s time to “stop beating yourself up and leave insecurity behind.” Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind offers expert advice on how to limit self-criticism and offset its negative effects, enabling you to achieve your highest potential and a more contented, fulfilled life. More and more, psychologists are turning away from an emphasis on self-esteem and moving toward self-compassion in the treatment of their patients—and Dr. Neff’s extraordinary book offers exercises and action plans for dealing with every emotionally debilitating struggle, be it parenting, weight loss, or any of the numerous trials of everyday living.  

An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and GraceIn this meditation on cooking and eating, Tamar Adler weaves philosophy and instruction into approachable lessons on feeding ourselves well. An Everlasting Meal demonstrates the implicit frugality in cooking. In essays on forgotten skills such as boiling, suggestions for what to do when cooking seems like a chore, and strategies for preparing, storing, and transforming ingredients for a week’s worth of satisfying, delicious meals, Tamar reminds us of the practical pleasures of eating. She explains what cooks in the world’s great kitchens know: that the best meals rely on the ends of the meals that came before them. With that in mind, she shows how we often throw away the bones, skins, and peels we need to make our food both more affordable and better. She also reminds readers that almost all kitchen mistakes can be remedied. Summoning respectable meals from the humblest ingredients, Tamar breathes life into the belief that we can start cooking from wherever we are, with whatever we have. 

Eat This PoemFood and poetry are two of life's essential ingredients. In the same way that salt seasons ingredients to bring out their flavors, poetry seasons our lives; when celebrated together, our everyday moments and meals are richer and more meaningful. The twenty-five inspiring poems in this book--from such poets as Marge Piercy, Louise Glück, Mark Strand, Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Jane Hirshfield--are accompanied by seventy-five recipes that bring the richness of words to life in our kitchen, on our plate, and through our palate. Eat This Poem opens us up to fresh ways of accessing poetry and lends new meaning to the foods we cook.

Eli the GoodBicentennial fireworks burn the sky. Bob Seger growls from a transistor radio. And down by the river, girls line up on lawn chairs in pursuit of the perfect tan. Yet for ten-year-old Eli Book, the summer of 1976 is the one that threatened to tear his family apart. There is his distant mother; his traumatized Vietnam vet dad; his wild sister; his former warprotester aunt; and his tough yet troubled best friend, Edie, the only person with whom he can be himself. As tempers flare and his father’s nightmares rage, Eli watches from the sidelines, but soon even he cannot escape the current of conflict. From Silas House comes a tender look at the complexities of childhood and the realities of war — a quintessentially Southern novel filled with music, nostalgic detail, a deep respect for nature, and a powerful sense of place.

What are you reading right now?


  1. You really did a great job editing your books. I've done that several times. Not only does it free up space, I know others can enjoy what I've passed on. My hardest purge was cookbooks. I often thought I'd get to some of the recipes but I just don't have the time. I still have about 50 books and at one tie had about 120. Again, I thought someone else might treasure even one of my books.

    Jane x

  2. Ha- Melanie I am right there with you. Doing the same thing! What a mess and there are books I almost cringe at letting go but I know no one in my family wants them and I will never re-read them.

    I call it the Purging Process Preparing for Progress. lol--taking me to a new stage in life.

    Have a wonderful weekend, Melanie. xo Diana

  3. I need to do that with my bookshelves!

  4. Wow and Good Job! I know I was able to bring my photo albums out of a closet and onto a bookshelf when I purged books. Interesting reading list! Hugs!!

  5. I wish I read more. Maybe I need to come to your library for inspiration.
    Library meaning your house.

  6. I love books and I love this post! Kudos to you, your bookcases look great! An Everlasting Meal sounds especially intriguing to me. One of the most significant books I've read for this time in my life is Katrina Kenison's, Magical Journey. Also, Anne Lindbergh's, Against Wind and Sand, her final volume of diaries and letters. It, too, spoke to this period of my life. I'm currently reading Sandra Dallas's, True Sisters.

  7. Oh my gosh I absolutely ADORE those bookshelves, Melanie!! I'd be in heaven with shelves like that!

  8. You did a fantastic job. It's something I need to do also.

    You are an inspiration.

    Have a great weekend ~ FlowerLady

  9. Your bookcase is gorgeous, the case itself and the way you arranged it. I'm a major lover of books myself and I adore library book sales. My bookcase is the same size as yours and I cleaned it in the autumn. It is getting full again because one of my favorite things in life is to have the treasure of books I haven't read yet. I don't have any that I haven't read yet, the case is filled with books I've read three and four times. Getting reading glasses has brought me back to reading. Oh, Melanie, I almost forgot. My washing machine broke! Do you remember I was worrying that it was passed 10 years old. It broke down 11 years to the day of its purchase. To the day! This is the really exciting part, Melanie: I ordered the part on line and FIXED IT MYSELF! It took me a half a day to figure out how to get the case off so I could get into the works, and three attempts to fix it. But I did it! Ginene

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  11. oh my what a job! :) I love the bookcase. And I love books... a reader for all of my life since 1st grade :)

  12. Your bookcase looks lovely...and with room from some more! ;) Off to library, I saw a very interesting title on your list!! Thanks!

  13. You inspire me to keep working at our did a great job cleaning out...and the bookcases look wonderful!

  14. You are inspiring me to clean out our books! That must have felt great donating those!
    The bookcases look wonderful!

  15. An Everlasting Meal is a favorite of mine, really changed my way of cooking.

    But to the main subject--you did a fabulous job of letting go, Melanie! And made room for new books, well done! I left behind a full floor to ceiling bookcase of books when we moved to FL but my story has a different ending. I regretted leaving some of them so badly! And on my birthday my eldest son brought me boxes of my own books back! Very few had sold in the estate sale and he refused to let them all be donated and had saved them. Now they've come back to me and it was like Christmas to greet them again. I'm talking whole sets of different authors I had collected over the years. What was I thinking! Especially as I am the rare bird who loves to read my favorite authors over and over again.

    So you are a kind of hero to me to so thoroughly clear shelves and pass these books on!

  16. Wow Melanie, that is an impressive clean up of your book collection. The finished bookshelves look fabulous. I especially like your BOOK bookends. Cute.
    Several of your current selections look interesting to me. I'm curious to see what you think of A Mindful Evening. We could use some help with quality sleep around here.
    I spent a good part of the day reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up after reading about it on many blogs. While reading I was visualizing putting all of the books in the house in a pile (or many piles) to begin the great sorting process. Sounds a bit overwhelming already :D.

  17. Great job! I've gotten rid of so many books over the years, but still have lots -- in my office, the attic, the upstairs den . . . I've gotten in the habit now, after I finish reading a book, unless it is particularly good, I put it directly in a donate pile. I've been giving most of mine to Goodwill or Salvation Army lately.

  18. Guess we're both in an organization mode :) Your shelves look great!



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