Examining our household book traffic

When everyone started taking #shelfie pictures recently, I thought it might be fun to take some pictures of where books come to rest, pile up and make their home in this household. For example, here is where we keep a selection of current and “next up” reading atop a cabinet in which we keep first edition books:


Here is the poetry shelf, above my home office desk:



Here is one of several random places where books just seem to accumulate …

In addition to these spots, we do have a room devoted to books, with floor-to-ceiling shelves and two comfy reading chairs – you could call it a small library. I did take pictures of that room, too … and that’s when my husband told me I could not post those pictures. Not only were the shelves untidily crammed with books, it appears it’s impossible to do anything other than pole vault into the room to land in one of the reading chairs … because the floor is entirely covered in stacks and stacks and stacks of books. Along with it looking like we don’t know how to take care of our treasures, as he put it, “We look like hoarders.” And he was right.

That observation has inspired me to launch a year-long look at how books make their way into (and out of) this household. We both have an admitted weakness for bookstores, which we can rarely pass without entering, and from which we can never emerge empty-handed, regardless of how disciplined we might strive to be from a household budget standpoint. However, on the other side of the bookish balance sheet, we regularly give, lend and donate books. Why does the net result seem to be that we’re swimming in books, as delightful as that is in many respects?

On a month-to-month basis over 2014, we’re going to do our best to record:

  • Books purchased
  • Books purchased and given as gifts
  • Books received as gifts
  • Books provided (by writers, publishers, clients, employers, etc.)
  • Books given (to Little Free Library boxes, small acts of poetry, fundraising/donations, workplaces/colleagues, etc.)
  • Books borrowed (from libraries, friends, colleagues, etc.)
  • Books loaned
  • Books damaged, otherwise disposed of …

While this taking of stock will probably largely focus on print books – because that is the preferred book format in this household – it will also account for borrowed or purchased digital books.

In light of the news of another bookstore closure (After 37 years in the Annex, BookCity to close, CBC News), I’m also going to strive to keep track of book purchases in bookstores versus online, and new versus not-new (secondhand, antiquarian) purchases.

I’ve drawn “Incoming” and “Outgoing” columns on my home office whiteboard, and so far this month, four have come in (three purchases, one from a publisher) and six have gone out (four to a workplace shared library, two to a local Little Library box).

At this point, we’re just interested in seeing what our book behaviour is, without necessarily constraining or modifying it. I do hope I’ll find that we’re at least equally generous with others as we are with ourselves when it comes to acquiring, enjoying and celebrating books – and if we aren’t, then perhaps some book behaviour modification is in order.

Have you ever kept track or do you currently keep track of your household book traffic?


7 thoughts on “Examining our household book traffic

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