As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this home on the edge of town, this family, this neighborhood—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Those Bookshelves {...and a New Series}

We painted them. We waited for the paint to cure while books were stacked in crazy piles around the perimeter of the dining room.

And then the real work began: I had to choose which books went back on the shelves. 

Does that sound easy? Not if you're a bibliophile. Not if you feel a personal attachment to books. Not if you remember where you acquired them and where you read them. Not if your name is written inside. Not if your child's name is written inside. Not if you used many of them in your twenty-some years of homeschooling and have precious memories attached.

It was hard work. (Thankfully, Kati was willing to help me with this task.)

I handled each and every book, making a decision about each one.

Some were easy decisions. No one has ever read that book and no one is likely to read it. We don't need four herb guides. Where in the world did this one come from? 

Most, however, were not easy. We had to ask ourselves qualifying questions. Will anyone ever read this again? Is it loved? Is it a good reference book? Does it hold sentimental value? Are there other books on the shelf that fulfill the same purpose (i.e. multiple field guides on trees, different age levels)? Would it be more helpful to someone else? Does this one go in a particular child's "keep for my own children" stash? 

We had a gazillion books on Presidents. Another gazillion on the Civil War. Another gazillion on Lewis and Clark. A gazillion poetry books. (There were definite themes in our collections!) So we tried to cull our collections. (Within reason.)

One night, I handed Ron a large stack of history books to see if any of them needed to be returned to the shelf. Later I saw that he had put one book aside. "So you want to keep that one?" I asked.

"No. That's the one I think I can get rid of."

Hard work.

It was also sobering work, as I realized that many books would not be reshelved because we won't be using them again. Bekah, our youngest, will be at high school level this next school year. No one will be reading If You Lived in Colonial Times or Shakespeare For Kids: His Life and Times, 21 Activities. (Say it isn't so!) No one will be poring over Pets in a Jar (truth be told, Bekah did not pick this book up at any age) or Nature Crafts for Kids. It was sobering to make a break with elementary education, knowing that we will not be back.

But then there was another category of books. 

As we sorted through the books of American history, I picked up our copy of The Book of Indians by Holling C. Holling. Yes, it is written for children, but I gripped it tightly as I declared to Kati, "You will have to pry this out of my cold, dead hands." 

Message understood. She placed it in the stack to be shelved.

There were others that fit this category. The funny thing is...Kati usually knew which books were of the "prying" sort. 

And that led me to the realization that these books are the best of the best. These are the ones that we have related to, have read over and over, have been inspired by, have loved. These books are what Charlotte Mason called Living Books, ones that are filled with ideas and literary language and inspiration and noble thoughts.

So I am beginning a new series of posts in which I will share with you some of our best-loved books. There will be no theme other than that. They may be from any subject. They may be fiction or non-fiction. They will be from all reading levels (and/or listening levels). But they will all be books that we have personally read and loved and recommend most highly.

(This series will be geared toward my homeschooling readers, although anyone who has a child in her life may find some treasures to share or to give as gifts.)

* * *

What about you? Are you a bibliophile? Are your shelves overflowing as mine were? (Does one ever have enough bookshelves?) Let's talk books!


  1. Ron's comment made me laugh out loud. I have a love~hate relationship with books. On the one hand, I have my very favorites, including a shelf reserved for Maine authors (yes, even one Stephen King). And on the other, I refuse to bring in a tenth bookshelf! Life is about more than books for we know that of making books there is no end. Your newly painted bookshelves look beautiful! (I do not envy you the chore of culling books. It is fraught with meaning and memory.)

    1. Who told you that life is about more than books? What heresy!! Lol

  2. Sounds like a great series! I love reading what veteran homeschoolers deem useful!

  3. I find your dilemma familiar and your method of culling and questions asked interesting. We have a hard time letting go of books--and my husband would be the same as yours. We have bookshelves in every room but one and the baths. Way too many books. But they are such old friends. Anyway, look forward to reading your new series! It's a great idea!

  4. Love your book collection. And, yes, I am a bibliophile (hope I spelled that correctly). My husband and I both have our own shelves of books--many, many books. I just went to a local library book sale this morning and bought 5 books for $3.50--love a sale! I rarely get rid of a book--I re-read many of them. Love your shelves--very neat and homey. Looking forward to your new book series. Blessings, Sharon D.

  5. Our family motto is "not too many books, too few bookshelves". 😍. Most of my homeschooling books were given to my daughter and some are waiting for my son to take to his house. I kept a few for nostalgia.

  6. Yes! I am a lover of books, even with all of the new technology, nothing is better than physically holding a book in one's hand, even the smell of old books I love!.
    I know how hard this was, as I have had to cull books many times! I now have some packed away in the garage! It is very hard for me to let one go!
    Your book shelves looks lovely, I got some ideas of rearranging mine when I finally get around to finishing my spring cleaning. or should I say summer cleaning~smile~
    Have a blessed weekend!

  7. I'm thinking while you and Kati are in practice, you might make a trip to MY house! I have SO many books and, as Brenda says, too few bookshelves! And my husband is retiring in August and bringing home a whole wall-full of books from his office (pastor's study)! I'm like Ron. I can sort a huge pile of books and only come up with one I can part with!

  8. I can so relate! We have so many books! But we can't do without them, and the girls are starting their own collections!

    I am looking forward to this series!


  9. I work in a library. I also live in a library since my husband and I LOVE books. I need to cull mine also but where to start? I love them all.

    I have no children in my life but am still looking forward to your new series. It will be interesting to see if your favorites are also some of mine.

  10. Cheryl,
    I have been reading your blog for some time, but today I had to comment! This post is just where I am in life. My children were also spread out, and we have been homeschooling for 24 years. My youngest will be a Senior! I can't believe the homeschooling years are soon to end. We have shelves and shelves of books. I am trying to go through them and have made some progress, but it is HARD! There are so many special living books and ones with memories attached. I am looking forward to your new series, though hopefully it won't tempt me to buy something!
    Dianne L

  11. Your bookshelves look beautiful, Cheryl! It is so hard for me to get rid of books, but I've been doing a better job lately as I just run out of room and don't have the shelf space. When you start stacking them up on the floor, you know it's time to part company with some. I donate mine to the resale shop that benefits battered women and others.
    Have a wonderful weekend!

  12. I recognized so many of your books...I either have them or have had them. Your shelves look great!

  13. Your shelves sure do look beautiful with the new paint! Weeding out books is difficult for sure. I feel like I am always in the process of weeding out stuff in my home. How does it accumulate!

  14. First of all I love love love your wonderful shelves. Second of all I have such a hard time setting books aside, giving them away. I love books. I love to hold them in my hands. I love to turn the pages and read them. Looking forward to your new series!

  15. Your book shelves look lovely and I can see that you LOVE your books. It must have been a hard task but it looks like you've done a fabulous job. I need to do some "editing" around here too.

  16. Hi Cheryl, Oh my I LOVED this!! You have an amazing collection.....I am a book lover, as is my mother who also has quite a number. Yes, I totally understand the prying kind.:)..have a few of those myself...(want to find that Indian one...cos I am intrigued) A home without books just doesn't feel like home to me. So I will look forward to your new series.

  17. Oh Cheryl, I can totally relate!! I just gave my two big collections of the 'We Were There...' and 'The Story Of...' to our youngest daughter because I know she will use them. I have several Hiking C. Hiking books, but not that one!! Now I'm going on eBay. Lol Also my sets of old Prose and Poetry books, etc etc etc . When I homeschooled, all my books were categorized and we had more books in our personal library than many of the smaller schools around! I could go on and on, and am reminded of my great aunt who said, My books are my friends! So hard to part with them. Sigh. I'm in the process of weeding out. I'll be thinking of you.

  18. Oh my, I know what you mean! We have just moved into a smaller house, which means less books! Hubby just cannot understand my attachment to books. I have gone through them all once and done all the easy ones that I am not particularly attached to. But now, I am up to the second go through and it is SO much harder. I think I may have to hire a storage space!


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