miscellaneous, ramblings

How to Clean Your Bookcase and Spend Way More Time Than You Thought Possible Trying to Finish What You Started


To be clear, it is spring. And with the light breezes, the chipper bird song, and the sneeze inducing pollen, sometimes comes the notion that you need to do spring cleaning in the house. And to be fair… it’s sometimes necessary. But instead of cleaning out the closet and the multitudes of clothes that need to be tucked away until next winter, I indulged myself into the task of cleaning my bookcase. I thought… I love to read, so what better place to reorganize? HA.

This bookcase above… it’s not mine. It’s the inspiration for what I thought might be possible. Even though my bookcase does not have matching-level-shelves (or whatever you call it… they aren’t all in a straight line across from column to column). That picture is from a google search and credited to Pretty Prudent from something that highlighted rainbow shelves. I also don’t have a chandelier, so maybe I should’ve known I was handicapped from the start. But I also don’t like chandeliers, so I moved onward with nothing but a dream and a picture from google.

And before we get much farther, just know that I do know how lucky I am to have a bookcase and books to go in it and a sense of humor that can poke fun at myself for being a bit careless in my choice of “easy” afternoon activities.

Here’s how it roughly went.

  1. Get absurd idea to clean the bookcase and reorganize it.
  2. Assume that because it isn’t in a library or a library-room, it won’t take more than an hour.
  3. Look at instagram or pinterest for ideas of how the bookcase will look in the end. Feel heart swell and eyes beam with joy at the possibilities.
  4. Gather all necessary items. A spray bottle filled with hot water and castille soap mixture (or other wood cleanser/polish or all-purpose cleanser, depending on the finish of your bookcase). Plus rags or towels, etc.
  5. Remove ALL ITEMS from the bookcase. Everything. Leave in piles all over the room because you think this won’t take that long and no one will ever notice because it will be back in place and looking beautiful before they will see it. And when they do see it, you will pat yourself on the back. Because you are awesome. (See how it’s like a super happy experience so far?)
  6. Decide that you need music or a movie in the background for noise and to help time pass as you’ve cleared off four shelves of the 20 or so, and you feel like you’re making good progress, but it would be BETTER progress to have something good on in the background.
  7. Disappear to the couch for a minute to find something to put on the television. Lose half an hour playing on your phone before you open up Netflix or Hulu or Amazon to find something to play. Lose another 15 minutes picking something. Lose at least half an hour watching the start of it, even though you said you would just listen.
  8. Realize that you need to get going because people will be home soon. Clear off every remaining shelf, and find that you have very little floor space left. But that’s okay as long as you don’t trip.
  9. Spray everything down methodically, enjoying the light scent of whatever lovely earth-friendly cleanser you’ve selected. Realize that you want more of that scent in your life and wonder what other products come in that scent.
  10. Disappear to the couch to look up almond-scented (or whatever, not trying to be pushy on the almond scent which clearly is not good for nut allergy peeps who need to clean their house) cleaners, candles and body washes are available. Lose half an hour building a wish list.
  11. Finish cleaning the bookcase. WOW. It looks SO CLEAN!! And it smells so clean! No more dust! Time for a drink to reward myself.
  12. Lose another 30 minutes watching a show/movie/random videos/snapchats.
  13. Uh oh, people will be home soon.
  14. Better get up again. (Wait 10 minutes).
  15. Um, how long does it take to dry? Books shouldn’t go on damp shelves. This feels damp. Is it damp? Or are my hands just damp? Can’t solve this scientific mystery with a paper towel, although that seems like the obvious choice, so may as well go do something else.
  16. (Check back an hour later.) Oh now it’s dry.
  17. Decide on where to put all of the books and how.
  18. Realize that some shelves are too short for the books that you wanted on that shelf and why the heck did someone design a bookcase that can’t have a book standing up on every shelf…
  19. Calm down from the height-of-the-shelving-issue since it’s a built-in and there’s nothing you can do about it without a hacksaw (is that what they use? never was a handy-fixer-upper kinda person) and decide to stack some books horizontally on that shelf.
  20. Notice that the horizontal books look pretty nice, and change up some other shelves to have horizontal books. Feel as though you’ve come up with a zen-like solution.
  21. Wonder what zen or feng shui have to say about book organization…
  22. Decide to keep your book organization to the master plan from google image search, save eastern library science for another day.
  23. Completely move two to three sections of books as you realize you have more in that genre and want to keep them all together.
  24. Wonder when you got so many cookbooks. Seriously. Where did 80% of these even come from? Is that chef even still alive?
  25. (Disappear to google chef’s existence. Yes, still alive.)
  26. Finish the center shelf of the center column and feel amazing.
  27. Marvel at a perfect rainbow shelf courtesy of your brilliance to make a genre section, only to find one extra book that should be on that same shelf, but it doesn’t fit.
  28. Make a frowny face and a ‘hmphf’ noise.
  29. Try to squeeze the book in anyway.
  30. Realize you don’t want to damage your books. Find a new spot for it.
  31. Make a note to buy more green books.
  32. Try to think of the green books on your TBR.
  33. Google green books.
  34. Find an extra textbook that you couldn’t part with at the buy-back. Realize that the textbook shelf is full. Sacrifice a book to the donation bin… no, just slide it on top of the rest of them. No one will notice because it’s at the bottom.
  35. Sit and look at all of the piles you still have to get back into the bookcase. How did all of these books fit in there?
  36. Realize that all of the books didn’t fit in there because you carried all of the books to this area from other areas of the house where they didn’t belong.
  37. Ooooh travel books.
  38. Aww… I always wanted to go there. No wonder I got this book. I should really make plans to…
  39. Crap. Someone’s home.
  40. Grin sheepishly as you are judged amongst your piles of books.
  41. Sweaty and slightly dusty in places, you feel a slight blush creep into your cheeks as they give you a look not unlike a dog hearing a bird call for the first time. (You know, the head tilt, confused face look.)
  42. Tell the person “Remember, you are on MY side. This could’ve happened to either of us. We just have to get through it together.”
  43. The other person laughs and disappears, offering no help.
  44. Put in a final push to get everything the way you want it.
  45. Trip on a pile of books you thought you already moved.
  46. Yell “I’m okay” to the person who is still judging you but yet mildly concerned about the crash.
  47. Slide the last books into place.
  48. Step back and enjoy the view.
  49. Wonder what having three copies of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan says about you as a person.
  50. Make a note to try to look at one of the cookbooks and plan a trip to Sweden.
  51. Shower all of the dust off yourself.
  52. Epilogue: You go to sleep happy. Though there are still things to organize that SOMEONE had shoved into the bookcase where they did not belong, overall, you feel like you wouldn’t change a thing. You wake up the next morning with an idea of how to changes ALL OF THE THINGS. But decide to leave it, you know, until the mood strikes you again. You also realize that there is literally no more room for books, and you have two new releases on the way. Anxiety sets in.

This was a mostly true story of a recent experience in which I sent an iMessage that said “#sendhelp #thebooksareeverywhere”. No one helped. If I’m being honest, it is likely because they thought I was being funny. I tend to try to make my friends laugh and be self sufficient. And I mostly was. From start to finish it wasn’t so bad, but it felt like madness by the end.

I should have planned for more than 5 minutes. I know that now. And I knew better. After all, I’ve done laundry. I’ve moved myself from apartment to apartment to house. I KNEW BETTER. I feel like Marie Kondo would be severely displeased with my performance (you know, the life-changing magic of tidying up super-woman/metahuman/clean person).

If you ever hear me say I’m going to clean up my bedroom and closet, you have my permission to laugh and mock.

Have you ever had a project go wrong?

3 thoughts on “How to Clean Your Bookcase and Spend Way More Time Than You Thought Possible Trying to Finish What You Started”

  1. Nice post! Honestly, I’m even worse. Bookshelf re-organizing takes about three days minimum (not because I have a lot of shelves – but the combo of indecision plus clumsiness plus shortness does nothing is my favor).

    Liked by 1 person

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