A guide to surviving an epidemic, also known as tidying up your bookshelves

A guide to surviving an epidemic, also known as tidying up your bookshelves

We’re all stuck at home, and we’ll be here for no one knows how much longer, trying to break the daily monotony. If you’ve already sorted out your wardrobes and cupboards, found pairs for all your odd and lonely socks, and arranged your spices in alphabetical order, maybe it’s time to take care of your books? We might not be the perfect housewives or domestic goddesses, but we do know quite a lot about books here. Which is why we’d like to share a few tips with you to help you organize your home library.


Dust is the bane of all bibliophiles. Which is where closed bookcases come in to save the day. Then again, we’re talking about a cleaning session here, as opposed to getting new furniture, so there’s nothing left for us to do here but make an effort with our dusting.
Getting rid of dust from your book covers isn’t difficult. Just wipe if off with a cloth and you’re done. The book block is more of an issue. Wiping it with a dry cloth produces poor results, while doing it with a damp one isn’t worth the risk as we might end up staining the paper permanently, especially when it’s white. To top it off, books are not big fans of moisture. The easiest way of dealing with dust on the book block is to turn your book upside down and riffle through it a few times. The majority of what’s found its way onto the block will then simply lift off into the air and settle on something else (this certainly isn’t a method favoured by those suffering from allergies). The next step would be to clean your books with… a vacuum cleaner. The long narrow nozzle and the brush attachment should be best suited for the job. Those in favour of stacking books on bookshelves horizontally (as opposed to storing them in the upright position) might be smiling now with satisfaction as the above problem doesn’t concern them.
In the past there was a different way to deal with dust: a protective coat of wax, shellac or varnish would be applied to the top edge of a book block. If there are books with coloured edges in your book collection, have a look: the surface is extremely smooth. The polished edges mean there’s nothing dust can attach itself to, thus preventing it from settling on them.
Before you put your books back, remember to dust your shelves too. Water with detergent dissolved in it or furniture wax polish are perfect here. Make sure all surfaces are dry before you put your books back in their spot.

libraryA truly beautiful home library and enviable order to boot, don’t you think?

How to best store books on bookshelves?

It’s not rocket science, at least as far as theory’s concerned. But when it comes down to it, you never know. As much as your typical hardcover book will not cause you any problems, then your non-standard sized books (or those of unusual proportions) are not as easy to deal with. Not all books will want to stand upright on the shelf. If you lean a very thick book against the one next to it, it’s highly probable that its spine will deform for good and you’ll not be able to stand it upright again. This might be also the case with books where the spine runs along the shorter side of the book and with large-format publications. If a book isn’t stable, it’s better to just lay it on the bookshelf or invest in book supports and book ends.

Where to place your bookcases?

Be mindful of where you keep your books. Exposing them to direct sunlight might cause your book spines to fade, and with older publications excessive exposure to sunrays might crack the glue bonding your book’s pages; the glue will start breaking and sheets will start coming loose away from the book block. Still, it’s not just the light that’s your books’ enemy. A windowsill with the threat of moisture getting to your books is not the best location for your home library either.

booksWhat a lovely book nook; we’re big fans here. And maybe it’s only seemingly chaotic?

How do you arrange your books?

There’s no single formula to use when organizing your books. There are no wrong decisions here. The key issue is that you’re happy and comfortable with it. Do it according to their subject matter, in alphabetical order, follow their size, and their colour even; what matters here is that you know where to look for a given title.
So, that’s theory done with. There’s nothing left to do now but carefully dust, rearrange and store your books. It’s not just that books well taken care of look good; you’ll also be able to use and enjoy them for longer. Besides, it’s a great way of whiling away the long evening hours.

Arranging your books by colour? Why not!

lidia piasecka

Lidia Piasecka

Graphic designer at Totem.com.pl. She writes because she enjoys it, but only when she isn’t busy drawing. Enthusiast of vintage furniture, she restores them to their original glory. Lover of cats, moths and the Moomins.

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