Creating a home library

Creating a home library is one of the most fun home improvement projects ever. When we moved into the schoolhouse, we decided pretty fast that the second largest bedroom would become a home library. 

Library 1.0

We moved in the mismatched bookcases that came with us from our old homes, and we put books on the shelves. And we knew that we were not yet done…

Deciding on bookcases...

Then we spent months and months settling in (all those cabinets and drawers to organize!) and the books were accessible, so there wasn’t a sense of urgency. 

Then, once we were all settled, urgency

Actually, just: now we have a clear runway… 

So we began considering options for the home library. After exploring custom built-ins and discovering that was outside our budget, we decided to go basic.

We headed to IKEA.

When we were visiting Nashville, we went to The Book Shop, where the owner told us that she’d bought IKEA Hemnes shelves for her (beautiful) shop.

So when the time came for us to choose shelves, we went with the Hemnes shelves in white. And the cool thing is that they’re available in two sizes, so we could mix and match to fit our space. 

We went with two 35-inch shelves and one 19-inch shelf

There then ensued a weekend of IKEA shelf building… and that super fun extra trip to the IKEA returns department to pick up the one little piece missing from the box.

Successful shelving!

But we got it done, and it was a valiant team effort. (That ability to canoe without bickering also transfers to furniture assembly. We know we’re blessed.)

Before attaching the shelves to the wall, the Dear Man had the excellent idea of attaching the shelves to each other so they’d stay aligned. So we headed to Home Depot to get some brackets that we attached to the top and back of the shelves to hold them in place. Then the Dear Man drilled holes and attached the shelves to the wall. 

Shelving the books...

And then the fun began

Putting books on shelves is one of my favorite projects in the world, and it’s a gift that keeps on giving. I mean, who among us hasn’t decided to rearrange the bookcases just for sport? 

So the current book arrangement is certainly not final, but it’s satisfying. 

And now I’m on the lookout for bookends and other items that will help style the shelves. Styling the shelves is gonna be one of my 20 for 2020 goals, and I’m excited about it.  

Before and After

Advice? Stories?

So, my bookish friends…

Please share your suggestions for styling the bookshelves.

And please tell your stories of book arranging on your shelves… 

Announcing Book Bingo 2020

Welcome to Book Bingo 2020!

It’s our 6th year of producing a bookish bingo card, and every year the best part is that more people are joining in the fun.  

The Theme

This year’s bingo card has a calendar theme, thanks to my dear friend and bingo collaborator, who suggested it. 

So you’ll find the names of months in ghosted text, and the categories on the card are arranged strategically so they can carry us through the seasons of the year. We start out with Icy (for winter), then move to Longing (for spring), then a Road Trip (for summer), and finally Horror (for fall). Every category on the card is placed in its spot for a seasonal reason. 

I won’t be reading books in category order, but if you’re looking for an added level of challenge, you could attempt to read through the year by category — to fully experience the seasonal tone we’ve built in. If you try this, please let me know how it goes!

The Gratitude

Book Bingo is possible because of two of my most favorite people on earth:

  • My dear friend, who loves bingo category creation every bit as much as I do (so much that she created an amazing spreadsheet this year to help us with the planning process; there are few things more pleasing than a good spreadsheet).
  • The Dear Man, who creates the beautiful design of each year’s book bingo card. I love the work that comes out of our home graphic design office. Every year: happiness.

How to Play

  • Read a book that fits the category. Each book can qualify for only one category.
  • Complete just one row or column, or go for blackout by reading a book in every category.
  • All books must be finished in 2020. Books started in 2019 but finished in 2020 count.
  • We’ve provided some definitions, but you can free-style it if you like—as long as you can make a case that the book fits the category.
  • All categories can be fiction or nonfiction (your choice), unless otherwise specified.

The Categories

Icy – A book that takes place in snowy winter, a story featuring a cold-hearted character, or a chilling tale

Landscape – A book whose setting is vital to the story 

Novella – Shorter than a novel, but longer than a short story

Harlem Renaissance – A book written by a Harlem Renaissance author 

Longing – A story filled with yearning, desire, or wistfulness 

Lies & Deception – A book with lies, so many lies. Or a book that deceived you.

Expectations – A story of fulfilled or thwarted expectations, or a book that failed to meet your expectations 

Underdog – A book about a character who defies the odds

Personal Growth – Self-improvement: pragmatically or spiritually

Long Haired Author – A book by an author who has (or had) long hair

A Friend’s Suggestion – Ask a friend what you should read next

Podcast – Listen to a serial podcast or read a book written by a podcaster

Carnegie Medal Nominee – A book nominated for the Carnegie Medal

Modern Classic – A contemporary book that will stand the test of time

Road Trip – Wanderlust, restlessness, desperation, quest? A book with a road trip in it

Olympic Sport – A book with a character who participates (at any level) in a sport featured in the Olympics

Checklist – A book you’re checking off your list, or a book containing a checklist for a better life

South America – A book written by a South American author or a book that takes place in South America

Back to School – A story with a school setting

Love – A book that illustrates love 

Native American – A character or an author who is Native American

Horror – A story that inspires a feeling of dread

Political – Election year! Read something political

Memoir – A nonfiction personal account based on the author’s experience

Indulge – The hot fudge of reading: all pleasure, no virtue

To Sign Up...

Add your blog name & URL in the Comments. Easy as that.

Printable Book Bingo Card

Questions? Answers!

If you have any questions about any of the categories, ask your question in the Comments, and I promise I’ll respond.

Now let’s get out there and Bingo!

What I’ve been reading: November 2019

November’s been a busy month around here: we added shelves to our home library (stay tuned for more on that) and worked on some other projects. And we did some reading.

Here’s a recap of the books I finished this month…  

Bingeworthy British Television: The Best Brit TV You Can’t Stop Watching by Sarah Cords and Jackie Bailey

3 words: enthusiastic, lively, knowledgeable

Give this book a whirl if you like… British television series, lively writing style, finding TV series similar to your favorites, a warm tone



The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

3 words: engaging, rollicking, evocative

Give this book a whirl if you like… tales of rambunctious childhood, storytelling, American classics, childhood classics for adults

 

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

3 words: menacing, clever, pageturner

Give this book a whirl if you like… scary tales of childhood; creepy, dreamlike worlds; the menacing world of one’s own home 

 

Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob

3 words: creative, thought-provoking, sad/funny

Give this book a whirl if you like… memoirs in graphic novel form; smart, sad, funny memoirs; #ownvoices; a look at race and ethnicity through personal experience; stories told through conversations with a child, parents, a spouse, and friends

 

Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts by Brene Brown

3 words: direct, conversational, empathic

Give this book a whirl if you like… straight talk, the challenge to be one’s best self at work, strategies for becoming a better person and a better leader

 

Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun

3 words: endearing, heartfelt, wise

Give this book a whirl if you like… charming graphic novels, a stranger in a strange land, mysteries of humanity, self-improvement books in disguise

 

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon

3 words: inspiring, conversational, practical

Give this book a whirl if you like… creativity, where to find inspiration, how to develop one’s own creative style

 

 

What books were your favorites this month?

New nonfiction on my TBR

The glory of Nonfiction November is learning about all the great nonfiction books a person somehow missed and really must read. This is a terrible, wonderful thing. So many books! So our final post of the month is about the expansion of our already burgeoning TBR lists. 

New to My TBR, hosted by Rennie from What’s Nonfiction: It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book!

Here are the books I’ve added to my TBR this month, with thanks to the wonderful book bloggers who wrote such glorious and enticing reviews.

Shoot for the Moon by James Donovan 
Recommended by JulzReads

Failure Is Not an Option by Gene Kranz  
Recommended by Never Enough Novels

Design Your Next Chapter by Debbie Travis 
Recommended by Beverley A. Baird

Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl 
Recommended by The Book Stop

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
Recommended by booksaremyfavouriteandbest

The Wisdom of the Enneagram 
Recommended by Lisa Notes

Home Sweet Maison by Danielle Postel-Vinay
The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson 
Recommended by Susan of Blue-Hearted Bookworm

Houseworks by Cynthia Ewer 
Recommended by Amy 

At Home with Books by Estelle Ellis
Recommended by Head Subhead

 

My fellow nonfiction fans… what books did Nonfiction November add to the top of your TBR?

Great bookish gift ideas

It’s nearly the most wonderful time of the year, and that means gift-giving.

If you’ve got bookish people on your list, I’ve got you covered.

Here are some of the best book-related gifts I’ve received or craved… 

Comfy cardigan

The gift I never knew I needed… and now I can’t live without it.

A few Christmases ago, the Dear Man gave me this cardigan, and I wear it nearly every night while reading in bed.

It’s big and slouchy and cozy.

Where to buy:

Similar cardigan available at Eddie Bauer

Add Your Heading Text Here

Slippers

Super snuggly slippers are a must if you live in a cold climate.

Another perfect Christmas gift from the Dear Man.

Where to buy:

Similar slippers available at Pottery Barn

Throw

Another essential element to the cozy reading scene… the super soft throw.

I love this one because:

  • buffalo plaid
  • so snuggly soft

Where to buy:

Pottery Barn

Banned books scarf

I love my banned books scarf and wear it way more often than just Banned Books Week.

Where to buy:

Uncommon Goods

Tote bag

My favorite new book bag and all-around tote.

It’s adorable and tough and made of wool.

Where to buy:

The Big Lake

Giant clothes pin

When reading a huge book like Middlemarch, sometimes you need a helping hand to keep the thing open.

Some like the book weight, but I prefer the giant clothes pin.

I made this one in shop class in 7th grade, so it’s a handcrafted, one-of-a-kind item.   : )

Where to buy:

Similar giant clothes pin on Etsy

Sticky arrows

The perfect bookish stocking stuffer.

I carry these in my purse and have them on my bedside table, because you never know when you’ll need to mark the page of a perfect line or quote.

Where to buy:

Amazon

What’s on your bookish gift-buying (or wish) list this year?

And what’s the best bookish gift you’ve received?

Nonfiction favorites: what makes me love nonfiction

Nonfiction November continues….  Here’s this week’s installment.

Nonfiction Favorites, hosted by Leann at ShelfAware: We’ve talked about how you pick nonfiction books in previous years, but this week I’m excited to talk about what makes a book you’ve read one of your favorites. Is the topic pretty much all that matters? Are there particular ways a story can be told or particular writing styles that you love? Do you look for a light, humorous approach or do you prefer a more serious tone? Let us know what qualities make you add a nonfiction book to your list of favorites.

I seriously love a unique and authentic voice in nonfiction. So this usually means I have a soft spot for memoirs, since they’re the nonfiction most likely to be narrated in an author’s own voice. This year, the standout memoirs I’ve read include…

Working by Robert A. Caro   
Caro’s self-deprecating humor delights me, especially since the dude’s one of the preeminent biographers of all time.

 

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
The quirkiness of this book–and the author’s sheer joy in living–make me smile every time I think of it.

 

I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott
Philpott’s a master of the personal essay, and she’ll catch you by surprise every now and then. 

 

Good Talk by Mira Jacob
Jacob’s wry humor and the unique format of her memoir (a graphic novel told in conversations) create one of the most remarkable reading experiences I’ve ever had. 

 

What makes you fall in love with a nonfiction book? 

Home organization books… asking the expert

On today’s episode of Nonfiction November, we’re talking about Expertise.

Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert, hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey: Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

 

Anyone else completely hooked on home organization books? If so, let’s talk!

Last spring, I posted a list of my favorite books about home organization, and I’m always looking for more ideas.

Here are some examples of books I’ve read, loved, and lived…

My fellow organizing wonders… I’d love to hear which home organization books are your favorites! Please share your suggestions in the Comments… I’m all ears.

If you love British TV…

Bingeworthy British Television: The Best Brit TV You Can’t Stop Watching by Sarah Cords and Jackie Bailey

3 words: enthusiastic, lively, knowledgeable

Bingeworthy British TV

 

When a person who’s a reluctant television watcher gets this excited about dipping into a book about TV shows, you know the book’s pretty remarkable. 

 

When I first learned about the publication of Bingeworthy British Television, I immediately emailed some friends who are serious Watchers of the British TV Series to tell them about it. 

I didn’t realize I was part of the intended audience, but now I know. 

Here’s why this book sucked me in… 

When authors blend a depth of knowledge, enthusiasm for the subject, and an engaging writing style, they’ve got me. Cords does all of those things. 

By the time I was 25% through the book, I was in awe of the amount of TV viewing and research that went into this book’s creation. You’re seriously in good hands here: Cords knows her British TV. (We already knew that from her blog, The Great British TV Site, but it’s abundantly clear in this book.)

I also started jotting down TV series I want to watch. While I tell myself I don’t really watch TV, I have a Downton Abbey habit. And a Sherlock thing. And a history of Foyle’s War viewing. And a weakness for The Crown. And now I have a list that contains Detectorists and Mr. Selfridge and Moone Boy.

My librarian’s heart was made happy by these words at the end of each TV show’s section: “What to Binge on Next.” She provides watch-alikes! (I think I just coined a term.) I was so over-excited by this, I took a photo of that section to text to a friend who’s wild about Being Human. For librarians serving patrons who love love love British TV shows, this book’s a godsend. When your Downton Abbey viewers are sad that the series has ended, open to page 124 for some suggestions for them.  

This book also made me laugh with delight. Because it contains sentences like this: 

“Basil Fawlty, proprietor of the hotel Fawlty Towers, is everything you don’t want in your hospitality staff: excitable, eccentric, violent, and violently snobbish.” (p. 22)

And this: 

“When housewife and mother Alison Braithwaite wins thirty-eight million pounds in the lottery, the first thing she doesn’t do is tell her family.” (p. 74) 

When this depth of knowledge is delivered with warmth and humor and exuberance, you’ve got yourself a book that’s a complete pleasure to read. It’s a wildly pleasant place to hang out. 

Give this book a whirl if you like… British television series, lively writing style, finding TV series similar to your favorites, a warm tone

What are your favorite British TV shows? 

(Review copy provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review)

Book pairings: sociopaths

Nonfiction November rages on, and today’s topic is… 

Book Pairing, hosted by Sarah of Sarah’s Bookshelves : This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story.

Today we’re getting grim, my friends, because: sociopaths. 

Yes, we’re talking about the true story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, the totally bogus biotech company she led — and the people whose lives she damaged because they crossed her. It’s creepy, it’s chilling, it’s disturbing as all get-out. And the fact that it’s true makes it all the more unsettling. 

So our nonfiction title today is Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou. 

Bad Blood pairs nicely with My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite. While this novel has a bit of a cheeky tone, it’s suspenseful and all too maddening to watch the sociopathic sister (yes, an actual serial killer) get away with murder. 

Both books contain situations that are downright infuriating, because the gall! The audaciousness of their behavior is shocking. They also both deal with issues of integrity and loyalty and complicity. And both can be deeply disturbing. 

 

So if you’re a sensitive soul, these books are not good for bedtime reading. While they’re not scary, they’re unsettling. (I had a troubled night of sleep after reading a chapter of Bad Blood at bedtime — and afterward would read it only during daylight hours. Because this stuff is true, and it’s seriously messed up.)

 

Anyone else moderately (yet not unpleasantly) disturbed by these books?

What I’ve been reading: October 2019

October: in with some sunshine, out with a snowstorm. It’s been a beautiful and wildly busy month, and my reading time feels like it’s been diminished. (Real life, you seriously can get in the way of my reading.)

This month has felt fiction-rich, which is somewhat unusual. Also strange: I read a true crime book. This only happens about once a decade, so: notable.

There also was a grim tone to several of the books I read in October, which maybe could be seen as seasonally appropriate.

Favorite of the month: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. Her ability to weave a complex and believable story stuns me every time.

Here’s a look at October’s books…

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

3 words: lyrical, moving, quietly suspenseful

Give this book a whirl if you like… stories of difficult childhoods, evocative swampy settings, solitude, mysteries that unfold slowly

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

3 words: haunting, investigative, deep dive

Give this book a whirl if you like… true crime blended with memoir, stories of obsessive research, scary true crime stories, author as part of the narrative

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

3 words: lyrical, impressionistic, nuanced

Give this book a whirl if you like… stories told through vignettes, African American family, #ownvoices, subtle character portraits, multiple generations of family dynamics, books that are short but powerful, teenage pregnancy

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

3 words: character-driven, engaging, family 

Give this book a whirl if you like… stories of family drama, house as a character, supportive siblings, evil stepmother, layers of meaning 

The Lost Girls by Heather Young

3 words: forboding, atmospheric, suspenseful

Give this book a whirl if you like… novels that alternate between past and present, family mysteries, sisterhood, small towns, northern Minnesota, family cabins, secrets from the past

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when the Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson et al

3 words: practical, encouraging, actionable

Give this book a whirl if you like… specific tactics for discussing difficult topics, ways to reframe stressful conversations

The Boron Letters by Gary C. Halbert

3 words: practical, insightful, straightforward

Give this book a whirl if you like… learning about copywriting, the psychology of marketing

Cozy White Cottage: 100 Ways to Love the Feeling of Being Home by Liz Marie Galvan

3 words: beautiful, practical, inspiring 

Give this book a whirl if you like… the rustic farmhouse look, tips for flea market buys, beautiful photos and a warm tone

 

What were your favorite books in October? And what are you looking forward to reading in November?