Friday, August 19, 2011

Bookcase Blitz or How to Kill Your Husband....

How to Win a Darwin Award

Have you ever heard of the Darwin Awards?  The Darwin Awards are handed out annually (and posthumously) to unfortunate individuals who have managed to kill themselves in bizarre ways, for example, trying to break into your ex boyfriend's house by climbing down the chimney, only to become stuck in said chimney and dying from asphyxiation.  Ewwww.  True story.

About 10 years ago, when the Rock God and I first moved in together, he nearly became a recipient of his own Darwin Award.  I believe its possible he may have been the first person to survive being crushed to death by Vogue magazines.  Also a true story.

It came about like this......I had been reading and collecting Vogue magazines for about 10 years before we met.  Vogue Australia, Vogue US, Vogue France, Vogue Italia - I had them all.  This was in the era B.K. (before kids) when I could afford to spend $50 a month on fashion magazines *sigh*.

My Vogue collection was kept in towering piles stacked up on either side of my bookcases.  I had moved apartments a couple of times before and each time the Vogue magazines would be packed into hundreds of boxes, moved and unpacked again.
At the time of the near-death experience, the Rock God and I were moving from a large second story apartment to a much smaller second story apartment (it had marina views which made up for the downsizing) and the Rock God flatly refused to cart the Vogue magazines up and down any more stairs.

Regretfully, I agreed it was time to for the magazine collection to go.  If only I had known about the Hockenheimer stool back then - I could have furnished our whole apartment!  (NB. with design innovations as weird as this, I really don't know how the Germans ever lost the two world wars hahaha)
So, one day while I was at work, the Rock God hauled a couple of big wheelie bins up  to our apartment and began filling them to the brim with the magazines.  Needless to say, a big wheelie bin, filled with thick fashion magazines is incredibly heavy.  Heavier than you might imagine.

What happened next is entirely the Rock God's fault.  As he shuffled one of the wheelie bins out onto the landing, he decided the best way to manoeuvre the wheelie bin down each step was by standing on the step below, tilting the bin by the handles and walking down backwards.  Faced with the same predicament, I would have stood on the step above the bin, grabbed it by the handles and bumped it down each step.  But I am a woman and therefore have a higher regard for my own safety (most Darwin Awards are received by men, need I say more).
Back to the Rock God and his precarious position on the staircase with the incredibly heavy wheelie bin and its dangerous cargo of Vogue magazines.......he commences to walk backwards down the stairs but within a few steps, the weight of the wheelie bin begins to gather momentum and he realises with horror that he cannot support it.  Like an elephant on roller skates, the wheelie bin crashes down the stairs of its own accord and smashes into the landing wall below, pinning the Rock God to the wall.
He was pinned there for quite some time apparently, winded, bruised, and unable to gather the strength to push the wheelie bin off his chest.  He called out for help several times but it was in the middle of a working day and the apartment complex was empty.  Finally, mustering all his strength, he managed to move one of his pinned arms and lift the wheelie bin a little to enable him to squeeze out from behind it.  Needless to say, when I got home in the afternoon and he gave me the account of his near death experience, he was NOT AMUSED when I almost peed my own pants with laughter.

The Moral of the Story  

Books and magazines can be dangerous and we should rid them from our existence.  Only kidding, the moral of the story is that it can be a real pain in the ass to cart around books and magazines if you have too many of them.

If you've read my blog before you will know that I am midway through a decluttering frenzy right now.  My family of six lives in a smallish townhouse and we have way too much stuff for the amount of space.  So far I have decluttered my wardrobe and decluttered my kitchen.  This week I tackled my bookcase.

I've always been a big reader and I love books with a passion.  When we moved interstate 18 months ago we bought 16 boxes of books with us.  When we unpacked, most of these were shoved into our very practical Ikea cube bookcase, 2 or 3 rows deep and piled up on top of each other in no particular order.

Most of the time my bookcase looks like one of the rooms from 'Shakespeare & Company' a famous, eclectic bookshop in Paris where books fill every crevice and corner and are stacked higgledy piggledy from floor to ceiling.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, but we don't live in a bookshop.  It was time for a major Bookcase Blitz!

Book Decluttering Criteria
The artist William Morris once stated "have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful"
This is excellent advice for decluttering, but perhaps doesn't really apply to books.  I decided my "book keeping" criteria would be -

1. Is it a book I really enjoyed and would read again?  

I have read and re-read my Agatha Christie collection of over 70 paperback novels again and again.  sometimes I read them in order of publication, sometimes I read them by principal character, e.g. all the Miss Marple stories or all the Hercule Poirot ones.  Sometimes I just point my finger and make a random selection.  These are definitely books I would read over and over again.
2. Is it a book that meant something to me?

When I was 12 years old my parents gave me a set of the Anne of Green Gables books.  I became lost in them and couldn't put them down and they started a lifelong love of reading.  My parents separated 3 months later and it was the last gift I received from both of them.
3. Is the book beautiful eye-candy?

Sometimes things have no other purpose than just to be beautiful eye-candy which in effect reverts back to Criteria No. 1 because beautiful things can be enjoyed.

Years ago, I bought this beautiful book called 'Passionate Love Letters' which included extracts from famous love letters written over the centuries.  But the best part about the book was that exact copies of the letters were folded up and sealed into envelopes throughout the book, even down to replicas of wax seals on the outside.  Soooo divine!

The other criteria I applied was 'is it a WWI book and will help me with my research?'  This criteria is obviously specific to me as an amateur WWI historian but you might have a similar hobby or interest e.g. quilting or family history, where this would also apply.

Once I got into a mercenary frame of mind, the bookcase blitz didn't take long at all.  I think its best if you stick to initial gut reactions.  Pick up a book and if it instantly doesn't tug at the heart strings, its out.

I ended up with 2 tubs of books that have since been passed onto new owners.  And my bookcase is now streamlined and organised with all my favourite reads.

I always feel relieved and satisfied after a big decluttering :)

So, how are your bookcases?  Could you do with a big book cull too?


  1. I probably could do with a de-clutter, but I love my books! A book has to be really bad for me to not finish it- and I re-read my books all the time.... great ideas though :)

  2. I love de-cluttering. I always say that cleaning out the closets and vacuuming the house is like cleansing the mind and dusting the soul. I actually need a book case. It is high on my list of needs right now. I NEED a lovely big beautiful bookcase. So that I can fill it up ... and have to declutter it :)
    Thanks for visiting Deep Fried Fruit.

  3. Firstly, what a fun read that was. I love your use of pics. 3yo CrashGirl just yelled out in excitement "An elephant on skates! That's funny!"
    Funny indeed! I really like your criteria for culling. The CrashKids' bookcase looks atrocious and I'm getting sick of tidying all the books up. I feel a crash test coming on...

  4. Very envious of your tidy bookcase! I think I need to start with a bookcase that isn't half falling apart. Then I can think of organising the rest. So thanks for the inspiration.

  5. Oh, how I larfed! Poor Rock God :))

    My book case was culled when we had new floors put down a couple of months ago. I don't expect the tidiness to last long though.

  6. I don't keep many books, I mainly borrow books from friends and the library. I only have a few that I have kept for sentimental reasons or because I want to read them again.

    Your bookshelves look so neat and tidy! Well done you!

  7. I often say to myself that I must do a book culling...especially when the 3 bookcases I have are groaning under the strain of the weight of so many books....and not to mention the 4 boxes of unpacked books that are in my wardrobe.

    I begin to cull, but every book I pull out has a meaning to me. Be it the science fiction/fantasy escape from reality, the university textbooks, the autobiographies or even just the general novel I picked up for some reason or another. I just can't bring myself to part with any of them.

  8. I think as I get older the book culls are easier to do. I think its because the books that make the grade are the ones that made the grade the last time and the time before that so really its just the newer ones I am culling. Eat Pray Love has recently been added to my "you have changed me forever" pile :)

  9. Oh my god, I literally laughed out loud!

    We all need the hockenheimer!

    Crazy Germans :)

  10. @Cherie @ 'a baby called Max'Knowing my luck Cherie, the one magazine I would want to read again would be right at the bottom of the Hockenheimer hahahaha

  11. Well, if I follow the rules according to Bill Morris I'd have to move out of my own house as I'm neither useful or beautiful :)

  12. hehehe Greg, well take some magazines with you ala the Hockenheimer so at least you have some furniture :)

  13. That is hysterical! Poor Rock God (I love the Darwin awards!). Next time donate your mags to your local hospital or a daycare centre. They can always do with some new reading material/cutting up material! Good on you with the decluttering. You can come to mine when you are done! x

  14. I have a book cull twice a year to make room for new books. I have exactly the same criteria as you! The books I don't keep get passed on to a local library which has had no book spend budget for the past three years (and doesn't look likely to have it revived any time soon!). They're always grateful to receive a box or two of books and I feel happy that others will get to enjoy them too. :)


Thanks for commenting, I appreciate you taking the time xxx

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