Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Everything {Bookish} in Moderation

I don't know about you, but when it comes to Elise and books (and food, but that's another post entirely), the phrase Everything in moderation certainly applies.

I have to moderate my {personal} book stacks once in awhile every few weeks, or else I may go mad.

Because I read suggestions from trusted friends, use some birthday money to buy one (okay, four) secondhand, place the rest on hold at the library, and suddenly they all come at once and I've got stacks towers of books on nightstand and squashed in the space between cubby and shelf on my desk, and I'm overwhelmed.

Especially when I have more than one parenting/mothering/homeschooling book going at the same time... all inspiring and convicting, but covering such a variety of struggling areas that I can literally feel the clutter of too many ideas and issues and dramas slugging it out in my heart and mind; then I know I've got too much on my bookish plate.

(It's really sad when a collector of bookmarks such as myself has so many books going at once that she has to resort to using her youngest child's hospital bracelet to mark her place since the real ones are all in use. Honestly, Elise.)

Too, as a home schooling mama, I've got to be careful to leave some space up there for the reading we do all day. There's a fine, fuzzy line between maxing out four library cards with children's books to fill bins on hearth and in bedrooms, and maxing out brain capacity with multiple fictions and mothering helps and devotionals and teacherish manuals. Not to mention daily meal time read-alouds.

There is a time and season for everything, and the time for having the freedom to keep multiple books in multiple genres rotating on nightstand and desk is not now. I know it will come someday, but I forget in the excitement of a new book suggestion, and the lure of being moved emotionally by something other than Farmer Boy. (Not to demean at all- I cry at some point during every Little House book. Just sayin'.)

But every few weeks, my books and I, we come to a head. And they try to look all pretty and enticing and my beautiful desk is made even more so by the colorful, rich stacks on it's surface, and my nightstand bookshelf and lamp collect dust but the books never do, and I stand with hands on hips and try to look ruthless but they know I'm weak...

So I close my eyes for a moment, and remember this is a season, and we will meet again, take a deep breath and begin to stack up books for library return and a trip down to the family room bookshelves. But not all of them.

I choose one fiction, one mothering ministry, one devotional, and one teacherish.

It works for me. The fiction stays at my bedside, the mothering ministry follows me everywhere, the devotional sits on the mantel beneath my Bible, and the teacherish at my desk.

Here's what I am {happily} left with for now:

Fiction: Katherine, by Anya Seton (until my pre-order of the newest Mitford book arrives!)

Mothering: Seasons of a Mother's Heart, by Sally Clarkson (for the fourth time. It's wonderful.)

Devotional: Discipline: The Glad Surrender, by Elisabeth Elliot

Teacherish: Real Learning, by Elizabeth Foss (sidenote: When this book first arrived, I tried to read it in bed for a few nights, and just couldn't figure out why I wasn't getting sleepy! Reading always makes me sleepy. I grabbed a fiction book out of desperation after a late hour of Real Learning, and literally fell asleep within minutes. So this one is a read-while-the-children-are-quietly-working-on-math book. Guaranteed to keep you thinking! Love her heart, love her wisdom.)

So, goodbye to this...

...and hello to moderation.

For a few weeks, anyway.

20 fellow travelers shared:

Linda said...

Oh can I identify with this Elise! One afternoon I got up the courage to count the books on my "to read" shelf in the closet - can we just say something over 100! The ridiculous thing is, I can't resist going to Half Price Books and buying still more.
Do you think we should start a Bookaholics Anonymous group?

A new Mitford book? I didn't know. Thank you Elise! (I just bought a book for the online book club with Angie this afternoon, but we won't count that.)

Amanda said...

LOL, I can SO relate to this! Every surface in my house is piled at the moment. I've got a dozen stacked on my nightstand alone. Some I just need to reshelve because I stopped in the middle, and have obviously moved on...

I like how you chose one of each favorite genre -- awesome idea!

Amanda said...

Oh, and have I missed about post about what each of your book bins is for? I need to organize our library read-alouds better somehow!

Stacy said...

Oh, Elise. This is so me. I hear of a good book and I put it on hold. I read a list of recommended books, and I put them on hold. I go to the bookstore and jot down titles and go check to see if the library has them: it does! I put those on hold. I get some sort of catalog in the mail (CBD or homeschooling) and put more books on hold.

Add to all of that the fact that I'm making my way through books I *own* or books lent to me, and I have stacks and stacks and overwhelming, towering stacks. All so enticing, but... my mind gets full.

And I can never get through all those books, because- YES! They all come in at the library at precisely the same time (how, I know not)!

The way I've tried to tackle this is this: I've begun a list in my journal: "Books to read". Brilliant, I know. But now, rather than immediately putting them on hold, I write them down. That way, when I'm ever in need of a book to read, I can just consult my beloved list. :)

(Oh! I love Real Learning. That book has graced my nightstand for two years!)

Love to you, dear kindred spirit!

I Live in an Antbed said...

Wow! ME, TOO!

I finally gave up on the library because I never wanted to return anything!!

I spent all summer cataloging and organizing our home library (4500+ volumes!!) on LibraryThing.com We read so much, though, it really is wonderful now to have all my shelves organized and labeled for reshelving so the kids can use them efficiently.

My most frustrating stack, though, is the one with all the C. S. Lewis books that I still have to read!

Let us know if you come up with a "cure"!! :)

Melissa said...

Another here who can relate! I think your new method is very wise. :)

And thank you for letting us know about the new Father Tim novel. I just put it on hold at my library. I'm only 47th on the list. ;)

contented sparrow said...

Hee! I also "feel your pain". So many books, so little time. Oh!, how I love all the books you mentioned and a new Mitford? Yeah!

Off to a day of reading with my little ones....

Blessings to you, Elise!

Andrea said...

I relate very well!!!! It's about time to pare down my book piles!!!

Bekki said...

Oh lawd! I thought my bedside table was bad. Ha!
Awesome shout out! That's Ryan's favorite piece ever. :)

Bekki said...

BTW: One Fine Frenzy's What I Wouldn't Do was just playing (never heard that one) and I LOVE it. Thanks for sharing. I must go buy it!

Ellen said...

I can sooo relate. I LOVE my books. I probably read one a week, possible more. But I just start one, and that's it. I can't handle having multiple ones going at one time. Too overwhelming. I'm always afraid I'll read everything good there is to read one day, and there won't be anything else exciting. What would life come to then? =)

Kristin said...

Until recently, this was me, too. But I finally whittled down my piles and refused to let myself start too many books at once. However, I found a new problem. There were days when I was between books and had nothing to read at all. :-(

Stacey said...

Great ideas, Elise!

And on a side note: woohoo to a new Mitford book! Popping over to order it now....

Christine said...

Looks like you struck a nerve here! :) I, too, have just been pondering what should stay on my night table and what should go. I follow a fiction, spiritual/devotional title, mothering, and teacherish book at one time and sometimes try for more. I feel as if there are too many books not to say "yes" to just ONE more! :-P

Love to you- hope your school year has taken off well for your clan.

Anonymous said...

"Real Learning" has been a treasure to me! So encouraging. I am on my 2nd "Kristin Lavransdatter" installment (1998 translation). You inspire! I ponder, often, how my husband and I cannot read the parenting/homeschooling books we'd like. I feel called to put it aside and rest in the Holy Spirit right now...my arms are so full of many little ones right now...still...I yearn to read all the wise words out there.

Interesting to read about your picks such as "Seasons" again. Sally inspires me often.
Love from Mary Brooke

The Homemaker said...

Oh Elise,
If only the words would soak into our minds and hearts by simply slipping it under our pillows each night!
How do we do it? Keeping up with the pitter patter of little feet, laundry, dishes, meals, cleaning, encouraging ministering husband, oh and yes, taking those few precious moments to refresh our own souls with the written words!
How we all identify with your struggle. As for me, my piles stay for now. I love that my children see the struggle between time for myself and time for everything else! In time I will clear them! Thank you for sharing!!!!!! Love ya!

denice said...

lovely. just like moi, i might add. sometimes, my drive for moderations strikes right as I smell something burning...... :)

Amy said...

oh! i love reading a blogpost that sounds exactly like i could have written it!! :)

i simply feel as if i won't remember the books i want to read if they don't sit all around my house *ahem* unread. i need to start a list of books i'd like to read (in another season of mothering) and follow your great example.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I just told my daughter (who is now homeschooling her children) that I homeschooled just to buy books. ;)

Sally is a sweet friend and I just spent a couple of days with Sarah (Clarkson) when we met up at my daughter's house in New England.

Sarah's new-ish book about children's literature is wonderful if you have not seen it (you may have mentioned it before and I have forgotten).

Reversion Story said...

Oh my goodness I so grateful for this post! My whole life I have devoured books and easily read several in a week. But life has become so busy and time carved out for praying, chores, connecting, leaving less and less for diving deeply into a book. But my habit of greedily checking out stacks from the library and ordering impulsively from ILL is still in place. Slowly (very slowly) I am coming to terms that the days of living in books are not these days. So I do the same thing: walk around, gather them up, send them back to the library. Its always with a pang. And relief.


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