Friday, April 9, 2021

Moving With Books - A Survivor's Tale

 



by Carrie Schmidt

At the end of 2020, my husband and I moved from Kentucky to Georgia. Yes, yes that does mean we sold our house in one state and bought a house in another - in a pandemic. I don't recommend it. It's certainly not for the faint of heart. Something else that isn't for the faint of heart... moving when you hoard* collect books! Nevertheless, I survived to tell the tale, and because I care for all of you and want to save you some stress when the time comes for you to move your book collection from one residence to another, I have some tips to help you survive it as well.

*It's not hoarding if it's books. The internet says so. 

My perspective is that of an avid reader & reviewer & book marketer who reads mostly on her Kindle these days but needs to have the paperbacks around to hug on occasion too. But I also know that authors have copious author copies laying (lying?) around - and the more books you've published, the more author copies you have. Hopefully, all of us can relate on some level to my survival tale, even if just with empathy :)

Boxes, Boxes Everywhere

The first thing you need to know about moving with books is how to select the right boxes in which to pack them. Now you might be tempted to go for the bigger boxes to pile in as many books as possible and make quick work of your task. Beware of that temptation, dear reader, and arm yourself against it. The more books per box, the heavier those boxes be. While this seems like a basic concept, when you're neck deep in boxes and to-do lists and sleepless nights, it can be more difficult to think logically. 

The moving experts I consulted (aka Google) said the best boxes for moving books are the 10x10 or 12x12 sizes. I ordered one hundred 12x12 boxes*, and they seemed to be pretty much perfect for the job. I also tried to limit myself to packing only about 20 books per box (and filling in the rest of the space with packing paper or towels or pillows, etc. as another safeguard to keep the weight down. To protect the books in case the movers dumped the boxes in a puddle or, you know, something equally horrific, I lined the bottom and sides with sheets of newsprint and made sure that the spines were up against the sides of the box, rather than the pages. 

*I had to order 25 more... if you want to do the math, about 20 books per box, 125 boxes... you'll have a good idea of how many books i own.

You Did Not Just Say That

Finding the right box size and getting all those tomes packed is but one hurdle to moving with books. Another hill you must climb is the perhaps-well-meaning-but-still-painful comments you'll get from your realtor, your father-in-law, and other misguided people. You'll hear audacious things like:

  • You can only keep about twelve books out for the pictures,
  • Are you really taking all those books with you?,
  • and the (closely related) Can't you get rid of some of those books so you don't have to move them all?
Dear reader, when you inevitably hear one of these statements, do not panic! It merely makes the situation worse. I found it helpful instead to smile as sweetly as I could muster and say, "Yes of course I'm taking all of my books. They are my friends." I mean, they already think I'm a little kooky for reading so much (it used to be an offense worthy of committing someone to a mental hospital, after all) so I figure calling books my friends can't damage their opinion of me much further lol.

Let Them Go, Let Them Go 

And no, I don't mean donating them or giving them away - we've already put that idea from our minds. I mean, once they are packed, there are some things to adjust to. 

  • Be prepared to get a little twitchy when you don't have easy access to your books for an undetermined amount of time. This comes and goes so keep your ereader handy to take a bit of the edge off. 
  • If you hire movers (and when you have as many books as I do, I highly encourage you to do so), there will come a time - brace yourself - when the book boxes get loaded into the truck and taken away from you. In our case, since it was a multi-state move and we weren't closing in Georgia for a few days after we had to vacate the house in Kentucky, our moving truck was locked away in the company's storage warehouse. (Cue those twitches I mentioned above)
  • Once you and your books are reunited* they may stay in boxes for a while. I mean, you don't want to put them all in bookcases and on shelves and then realize you really need to arrange the room setup again. That's a lot of unnecessary work, and moving is enough work on its own, so I give you the freedom to let them stay comfy & cozy in their boxes for a little longer if needed. 

*When we got back to our hotel the day we closed on our house in Georgia, our moving truck was parked there too! You know what means, right? My books knew where I was & they found me!! 

Sort-of a Problem

This last thing isn't really a problem, per se - but it is something you'll want to think about at least a little bit ahead of time. Currently my books are in sorted piles all over my dining room/library floor (yes, still) but before I could even get that far, I had to decide HOW I wanted to sort them for shelving purposes. There are about as many ways to sort books as there are genres (which is one way to sort them). You could sort them by:

  • author, alphabetically
  • genre
  • topic
  • read status (i.e. TBR, for review, read, re-readable faves, etc.) 
  • title
  • color
  • trivial pursuit category (Anne Bogel - aka Modern Mrs. Darcy - says this is how her assistant sorts her own books and I thought that was ingenious!) 

And then of course, you can use combinations of the above. For instance, I sort by author but I also have a separate bookcase for books I've been asked to review/launch teams, etc. and a china hutch that I've repurposed into a home for our most cherished books. 

My book sisters (and partners at JustRead Tours) have done beautiful jobs sorting their books by color and gave me permission to share their shelves as examples of how pretty it can turn out!

Beth's bookcase


Rachel's book nook


And of course there is the ol' tried and true method of just putting them on the nearest shelf in whichever order they come out of the box because you know you'll be double and triple stacking them before too long anyway ;)

Have you moved with books before?
Do you have any helpful tips for rookies?
How do YOU sort your books?

Chat with me in the comments to be entered to win a book from my stash (US only) or a book of choice from Book Depository if international

~*~*~*~*~*~


Carrie Schmidt
is an avid reader, book reviewer, story addict, KissingBooks fan, book boyfriend collector, and cool aunt. She also loves Jesus and THE Story a whole lot. Co-founder of the Christian Fiction Readers’ Retreat and JustRead Publicity Tours, Carrie lives in Georgia with her husband Eric.

She can be found lurking at various blogs and websites (because she can’t stop talking about books) but her main home is the blog she started in 2015 – ReadingIsMySuperPower.org.

 


53 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness, moving all of your books sounds so hard. Also this post was a lot of fun. Thank you for the giveaway!

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    1. Moving all my books WAS hard haha! And thanks, Angeline! I'm so glad you enjoyed the post :)

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  2. That was a lot of work! I have moved one time with a bunch of books and I can say you: most of the books are now out of my house (lol). So it's totally true what you say about books: do they really all have to come with you? Thank you for this post!

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  3. Carrie - i totally relate! We hired movers 10 years ago and didn't own a TV back then but between the two of us ( hubby is a bookworm too and had been working on his thesis) we had plenty of books. The mover complained. In an exasperated voice, he said " Haven't you heard of a tv?". Lol

    We are planning another move this summer.... ten years and four kids later we all have a collection of books we love. Yup, I have been deciding how to deal with our library.

    Thanks for your tip...am going to have to get some boxes in the right size!

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    1. haha yes! Our movers said "You guys have a LOT of books." hahaha And oh boy - i'll be praying for your upcoming move, Lee-Ann!

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  4. I enjoyed this post. One time when I moved several years ago, a friend told me that if I didn't have all those books, I wouldn't have much to move. Ha ha. After a few moves, I still have too many books. Your advice was good though. I wish I had pretty insta worthy color-coded bookshelves but I don't think I would ever find anything either. Mine are mainly all alphabetical and in categories of non-fiction/fiction.

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    1. that's why i can't sort by color either, Monica - HOW would i ever find the book I'm looking for - and let's not separate series, please. too much for my slightly OCD brain lol.

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  5. Carrie, this is hysterically funny, heartbreaking, and full of good tips -- in the same post. Wow. Right now I'm bracing myself for the inevitable downsizing and wondering if I can even TAKE physical books, those senior apartments are so small. You go, girl, for finding a way to keep yours.
    I read a lot of home decorating magazines, and one of the things they suggest is decorating with books. Not reading them, just decorating. Posing them or stacking them with the spine inward, which is ridiculous, and there's even a place that sells "books by the yard." This is stupid, why not just decorate with real books that you've read or are going to read?
    You are among kindred spirits here, Carrie.
    Kathy Bailey
    Your Kaybee
    Dreading downsizing in New Hampshire

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    1. oh Kathy, my heart just twinged for you at the possibility of not being able to take your books with you when you downsize. Ooo! Here's a solution: make all your furniture with your books. A book couch, book chairs, a book bed. Pinterest is full of such things. Problem solved ;)

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    2. Kathy, I agree that spines inward is the most ridiculous way to shelve books I ever heard. How would you find any?

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  6. Carrie, Welcome to Georgia! This is my home state, so I love it here, and hope you do too!
    I am an avid reader and would love to win one of your many books!

    Blessings!

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  7. I haven't moved with books yet, but when I do...well, I already have over 10 plastic totes full of books. :D I tend to shelve my books by author. Right now I don't have much shelf space (hence all the totes of books!), so I mainly just group books by the same author together, not even worrying if they aren't placed on the shelf alphabetically.

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    1. You do what you have to do - I totally get that lol

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  8. This post was delightful! I could never sort by color as my head would explode! I sort by fiction/nonfiction, then by author name, then publication date for the fiction. For nonfiction it's by topic and historical era.

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    1. thank you, dear Erica! And oh!!! Publication date! I didn't think about that one. (And I know - the color thing would explode my head too. How would I ever find the book I want or know which books were part of the same series?!?)

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  9. This post was delightful! I could never sort by color as my head would explode! I sort by fiction/nonfiction, then by author name, then publication date for the fiction. For nonfiction it's by topic and historical era.

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  10. I'm so thankful that you and your books have been reunited! This post is wonderful as I knew it would be ❤ The only shelves that I could stand to arrange by color are my tbr shelves and only because those are so hard to keep arranged in any other way. Otherwise I am a stringent sorter by author's last name.

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    1. thank you for the suggestion for this post when i started panicking about what to write - as I do every time my seekerville day arrives LOL

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    2. As do I, my sister. As do I!

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  11. We also bought a house and moved in the fall of 2020! (Honestly, here covid had almost no impact on the purchase and moving process--but houses sell like hotcakes and you have to make an offer basically day-of the listing, and that was stressful enough). We also had to move a ton of books, made even greater by the fact that both my husband's and my parents moved in 2019, which meant that any and all books we had stored with them (largely middle grade and beloved books from childhood), were returned to our possession just a mere year earlier. Thankfully, not all of them had been unpacked from the boxes in which they were returned to us.

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    1. oh boy! I feel your pain, Rachael! At least you already had some preboxed but then you still have to figure out what to do with them once you move lol.

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  12. Loved this post, Carrie! I'm glad you and your books (and Eric) made it to Georgia. I just sort my books by author so I can find them if I need them.

    One thing we did when we moved 20 years ago (after 30 years in the same house!) was get empty boxes from the state liquor store to pack books and fragile things in. They are just the right size for books, they're sturdy, and you can leave the dividers in for fragile things like vases, glasses, etc. It felt kind of weird getting the boxes there, as we don't drink and we had all these boxes with liquor brands on them (LOL), but there was a store not too far from us, and the boxes worked so well that we decided it was worth it.

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    1. that's a great tip, Winnie! The pandemic shutdowns in KY made it more difficult to get boxes from stores than it used to be, but as things are opening up more now I bet those could be easily found again!

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  13. I laughed all the way through your post because I GET it! We are kindred hearts!

    My husband and I have moved WAY too often in our nearly thirty-nine years of marriage, and every one of those moves meant boxes and boxes of books. And as we added children, and homeschooling, and then writing...well...let's just say I've heard ALL the comments from the movers! LOL!

    And then the unpacking starts. I never feel like I'm "home" while my books are still in boxes, but we also need to live. So I unpack the kitchen and bedroom first, and then the books come out. I greet each one as I put it on the shelf, especially if we've been apart for a long time. (I had to put most of my books in storage for a few years once. Unpacking those was WONDERFUL!)

    Whenever I think about downsizing my book collection, I get that familiar twitchy feeling. Just before one move (from Texas to Indiana) we had a garage sale, and someone-who-shall-remain-unnamed thought we should get rid of some of our books. I'm still grieving the loss, and have actually bought replacements for some of them.

    Seller's regret is real!

    So I keep my books. I sort by nonfiction/fiction. The nonfiction books are sorted by subject and kept on the shelves on the north wall of my office. The fiction books are sorted by children/adult. The children's books are sorted by chapter books and picture books. The adult books are sorted by author. Except for some, that are keeper books from author friends. They have their own bookcase.

    Then there are the TBR piles, and the shelf for the books from the public library. The research books for my current WIP also get their own shelf.

    I won't even mention how many bookcases I own. My husband gets a bit twitchy when he starts counting them...

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    1. Oh Jan, "I had to put most of my books in storage for a few years once" - HOW did you survive that?!?! I think I would have to move in to the storage unit - or at least make weekly visits haha. And YES i went through a phase about 15 years ago where I mistakenly thought about some of my fave books, "I probably won't read these again. I've read them so many times. I'll just sell them." And now I've been buying them all back haha. At least our husbands understand on some level, even if they do get a bit twitchy or grumpy about moving them all lol

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    2. I also had lots of books packed away in boxes for a long time. I was so excited when I could finally have all my books out.

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  14. Bless Your heart Carrie I have book cases that I also put my books in and I do it by Author Order My daughters always ask me how can you read like that Mom well I have always loved to read even when I was younger so I read a lot! Blessings to You and Your Family!

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    1. thanks for stopping by, Sarah! We readers have to stick together :)

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  15. I'm so glad to see this. I'm going to be moving and have been wondering about how to pack without getting the dust jackets torn and such. I'll be saving this because like you my books are going with me and goodness knows I've got plenty.

    Thank you!

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    1. haha Linda - the struggle is real :) I am pleased to report that none of my paperbacks or hardcovers got torn in the move!

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  16. We discovered diaper boxes and paper boxes are some of THE BEST for books. And we've moved ours several times, although I hope to not have to again. Ever, if possible.

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  17. When we moved about five years ago, I did sell or otherwise get rid of quite a few books. I rarely re-read anything, so it wasn't that hard of a decision to make. Five years later I probably have just as many if not more! Just not enough time in the day to read them all.

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    1. so many great books, so little time. I rarely re-read them either (at least not in print, I reread more on my Kindle) but i like to have them close by to smile at them lol

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  18. Carrie, this was such a fun post to read. I loved the photos of some of the bookshelves! The color-coding is so pretty! :) I'm an organizer by nature, and my books are shelved alphabetically. But, after seeing these pics, I'm really tempted to try the color-coding method. :)

    I have moved with books. My hubby is retired Air Force, and in our current house, we have two floor-to-ceiling bookcases, plus two other book cases in my project room. They are fairly full. All of them. :) I recommend having your books organized in a way that will make them fairly easy to unpack on the other end. For us alphabetical readers, having them packed up in a semblance of order makes it easier to unpack and put on the shelves on the other end. I imagine color coders can do the same thing. :)

    Have a great weekend!

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    1. I forgot to mention, before we made our last move, I actually did go through my books and had to figure out which ones I really wanted to keep and thought I would read/re-read. I believe we go through seasons of life and books we may cherish at one point in our lives, may lose their importance to us in another season. I gave away or gave to a second-hand bookstore many of the books that didn't "fit" me anymore.

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    2. I did that too, once (gave/sold some books away) for that reason - they lost their importance to me. And then it came back and I've been trying to buy them all again now lol. #thestruggleisreal And YES organizing them ahead of time would have saved me time on this end of the process but at the time they were just in stacks and I just wanted them packed lol. Thanks for that tip, Jeanne!

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  19. What a fun post, Carrie. My husband and I have moved 6 times in 35 years of marriage--only in two different towns in the same state, so lots of moving across town. We moved lots of boxes of books all those times. I finally did start culling my collection, but I still have a lot. Since following Seekerville, I have won so many autographed books that I can't get rid of those! My books are now double stacked and I need to think about what I want to do with getting more shelves. I organize my books by genre like classics and Christian fiction, then by author within those. I have nonfiction organized by types as well--writing, religious, historical, etc. My smaller Love Inspired books have their own section as well, and I keep a spot on the shelf for my TBR books. I think arranging by color is pretty but I wouldn't be able to find what I'm looking for. I also agree with your tip about not packing too many books in one box. Please put me in the drawing!

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    1. yeah i love the way sorting by color works but I would never find my books again LOL

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  20. I have been being brutal about sorting out my books, donating them mainly to the local library. At first it was easy. I'd go through and grab the ones I'm never going to read again. Then I grabbed the ones I knew the library had on their shelves (Unless I needed to keep them close to my heart). Then I'd just tell myself, "Get rid of one, just one."
    I'm down to...well, less than YOU!!!
    I do dearly love re-reading favorite books and must keep them. But I've found quite a few that were once favorites but now spark no urge to read them again.
    I wonder how many boxes I'd fill? Plenty I'm afraid.
    Something I once heard and believe: There is nothing on earth closer to an immovable object than a large box of books.

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    1. hahaha i believe our movers would agree with that quote too, Mary :-D And I admire your brutality in culling your books. I'm not that strong yet lol

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  21. Great blog, Carrie. You're funny!!!

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    1. well that just made my whole year, Mary! I told my husband (in a bit of awed, fangirl voice): MARY CONNEALY said I'm funny! ;)

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  22. When I moved 9 years ago I was forced to get rid of books and still miss some of them. Best wishes in your new home.

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