A Crafter Needs to Eat, The Library Stack, Thrift Shop Adventures

Curating a Home Library

I love public libraries and as my series of posts The Library Stack shows, I am always browsing them and borrowing books when I can. A couple of years of ago I studied and embraced Minimalism trying to live a simpler lifestyle and letting go of things that I thought cluttered my life. I decided to stop buying books and just borrow them from the library.

Then in December 2018 my husband suddenly died and things shifted in my life on a large scale. And in early 2020 the pandemic hit and more shifting occurred to include examining how I could redefine a “simpler lifestyle” and have the physical things I enjoy in my life.

Our local libraries closed for what seemed like endless months during the early days of the pandemic and when they reopened it was only for curbside pickup. Currently they have fully reopened but have many strict protocols (beyond mandatory masks) and there are not that many patrons in the library anymore. It feels like something is lost from whole public library experience (and it is strange to see the librarians behind glass).

Pre-pandemic I was really in to audiobooks. Something shifted in me during the pandemic and I began to crave reading physical books rather than listening to them. I also remembered my secret dream of having an extensive home library like the ones I see in the home decorating books I borrow from the public library.

Like this one below:

Image credit: insidehook.com

With all the above things in the background of my mind, a couple of months ago I decided that I wanted to proceed with curating my own home library. Nothing as extensive as the image above but a nice collection with books that I’ve read and loved (and want to read again) and books I want to read (and might read again).

So how to do this and not “break the bank”? Well I used the following sources to find books for my home library:

  • Thrift Stores
  • Garage Sales
  • Thriftbooks.com
  • Independent bookstores selling used books

I was able to buy books from 50 cents to $5.00 from these four sources. Most books I paid between $1.49 and $4.99. 

In addition to amassing a collection of second hand books over the past couple of months, my partner John also added an additional bookcase to the front room beyond the two he already built for me.

So here is the current version of my home library which used to be the front room/sitting room in my house:

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I had so much fun hunting for books at thrift shops (one local thrift shop has 1/2 priced Saturdays).

I’ve loved the books by the authors Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child and I’ve read at least 85% of their entire catalogue of books. So I put together a collection of their books of my very own (previously I had borrowed them from the library):

I do not have their latest books as those are not at thrift stores yet or reasonably priced on Thriftbooks.com but it was so fun finding each book one at a time while hunting at thrift shops.

At the beginning of my home library book curation process I thought about filling part of my home library with classic novels and books that might impress a book collector. But that thought lasted only a couple seconds. I have no need to impress anyone with my home library except myself. It is only filled with the kind of books I will read (and my partner too).

Like lots of Science Fiction and Fantasy (especially Young Adult Fantasy, I love it):

You might wonder what I did with my craft book collection. Well it is on the opposite wall organized by craft or topic (like art quilting):

All those books – got to have a cozy place to read, right? Here is Mike the Miniature Schnauzer sitting in my favorite reading spot:

And here is Mike and I snuggled cozy under a warm blanket on a cold Saturday reading (it was quite a delicious morning with my pot of tea next to me). I rediscovered the joy of reading a while, napping, waking up and reading some more!

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Note these images were taken before my partner put up the third bookcase last week.

In case you are curious, I am still occasionally getting a “Library Stack” from my local public library, though not as big as the ones I was getting (the ridiculously large stacks like in the post The Library Stack Is Back!) when the library first reopened. Here is my current linrary stack:

Speaking of libraries, some of the second hand books I’ve purchased over the past several months are former library books! I’ve gotten pretty good at removing the library’s plastic dust cover with all their library specific stickers so the books sitting on my home library shelves does not look like I stole them from a library – ha!

As I mentioned earlier in this post I used to listen to a lot of audiobooks. Current I am only listening to podcasts now, taking a break from audiobooks. I am currently enjoying holding a book in my hand and reading it. Quite a different experience. I am taking a break from multitasking in life and just enjoying a solitary task of reading a book!


Postscript

Over the past several months of going to thrift stores to find books for my home library, I’ve come across many curious items for sale at thrift shops. 

Here are my top 5 favorite finds that gave me the chuckle (and I promise you I did not buy any of them):

Number 5: If you need a lamp and a place to store your leftover yarn, would this not be the perfect solution?

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Yes it’s – YARN LAMP!

Number 4: Patriotic pants – they defy any further comment (but my apologies to you if you happen own these…)

My partner John is modeling them

Number 3: Donated photo frames with family photos still in them.

I could not believe how many donated photo frames I came across with family pictures still in them at various thrift stores, like the example below. Wouldn’t you perhaps remove your family photos before donating?!?!?

Number 2: An outfit for a very adventurous and crafty person.

Though it was on display way before Halloween, I think this was supposed to be a suggested Halloween outfit (hopefully as you would get a lot of stares should you select it for a cocktail party…)

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And Number 1 is…

Something that you absolutely cannot imagine living without…

A cattle leg (yes real cattle leg) with hoof attached Barometer!

Yes, now you can remember the favorite steer you raised on your farm and know the current barometric pressure!

My regret is I did not buy it and put it away as the ultimate future “White Elephant” Christmas gift! (Could you imagine the look on someone’s face when they opened their gift!)

46 thoughts on “Curating a Home Library”

  1. Your love of books has always been one of my favorite things about you. Such a wide variety of interests. You have created many cozy, comfy places to read and soak up the charm of your house–looks so inviting! I still prefer reading a real book (as opposed to Kindle), and get impatient with not being able to insert a bookmark where I fell asleep (which happens more often than I like to admit).
    P.S. You made a wise decision leaving the calf leg in that shop.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I so happy that you and your partner were able to curate and create a home library. I know how important books are to you. I also have to mention how wonderful a very familiar quilt looks in your wall. You must have had a grand time shopping…those unusual funds are priceless.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Your home library is just lovely – it looks so inviting! I have had lots of books most of my life. The number varies up and down depending mostly on whether I’m about to move or not πŸ˜‰ But I think nothing makes a house a home quite as much as a good selection of books to read or refer to. Your napping and reading plan sounds like the best day ever, and having Mike there with you makes it even better πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Please may I emigrate and move in with you, just for the library you understand- absolutely fabulous- I love looking at other people’s books. How could you pass on the cattle leg- it would have been great in your library!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Of course you do realise that the books will not just stay elegantly arranged on your shelves don’t you? They will walk, disorder themselves, expand, multiply, rearrange until the puppy won’t be able to find anywhere to sleep. And it will still be the best decision you ever made.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Love this post! So many comments to make…where do I begin!?

    First of all, I hate that you were having withdrawls when your local library closed. Things are different now, but the libraries aren’t going anywhere and eventually you will get to go back and just hang out even though it doesn’t seem like it now. I know we’re all sick of hearing it, but the changes are to protect you AND the staff.

    I love the idea of a home library and I love the look of yours! It looks so warm and inviting. When I saw your couch, I imagined you cuddled up on it with a blanket and your faithful Mike. I could just see you with a good book and a cup of tea. Then later you showed pictures and gave a description which was almost exactly what I had imagined you doing.

    I loved the description of how you find books for your home library. Don’t actually rule out the library though. Our library has a perpetual book sale and you can fill up a bag with books for $1.Your local library may have a similar program…It doesn’t hurt to ask! Also you did not say how you are taking off the stickers and other library paraphernalia. I am hoping a lot of it is on those plastic jackets you’ve been removing. However, just in case you don’t know, Goo Gone is really great at taking off the stickiness.

    I LOVE second hand stores, but it has never occurred to me to take pictures of some of the strange things I’ve come across. I like trying to imagine the story of those items…although some are beyond explanation. I think I may copy that! Some stories I imagined were that the yarn lamp belonged to a cat owner and maybe the photos with frames owners had died and someone else (not family or friends) cleaned out their home. I couldn’t imagine anything worse than that Halloween outfit, until you showed it! There just are no words for that find!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Your library is growing nicely! I am not super into fantasy but I am enjoying the Nevermoor series by Jessica Townsend, have you read those?
    That barometer is ridiculous! And I’ll have to look up what a white elephant gift is….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have not read that series but it sounds interesting! Oh a “white elephant” is a gift exchange where everyone brings a silly gifts wrapped up and then people draw numbers and take turns selecting the awful gifts and laughing!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ooh la la. I love your curated home library! 😍 I also miss libraries and spending time there (aren’t they the best places?). But you’ve certainly created a cozy and comfortable space to read in until the libraries are back again. The quilts on the wall are beautiful, and all the warm and wooden tones are so inviting. So much coziness to enjoy here!

    And those finds! I have often taken pictures of wacky thrift-store things, but your finds had me guffawing out loud! I laughed at yarn lamp (because… yarn lamp) and the pom pom halter top (wow) πŸ˜†, but when cattle-leg barometer came up, I lost it. 🀣 Great pictures, Tierney!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I am so impressed by your neat and ordered book collection. Mine are a bit of a mess, but I somehow know where all titles are. I can’t imagine life without books and I too am going through a reading spurt. Thank heavens for the thrift stores — I love browsing and buying more books to read, despite the backlog of still-to-be-read books on our shelves

    Liked by 2 people

  10. We have a room we call the Library complete with cozy couch. If I can’t find my husband I just have to check the library he is usually there curled under a quilt. Your library looks beautiful and cozy.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I guess we’re kindred spirits. My husband and I drool over pictures of libraries, too. We wanted one in our new house but I think it’s been turned into an AV room/guest room/library because, you know, the budget!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes multiple purpose rooms work too! For the past 15 years I had a quilt room-guest room or a quilt room-home office (telecommuting with my crafting stuff was torture some days – ha!). We are probably going to downsize to a small house someday when it is retirement time and the library will probably be in a combo room!

      Liked by 1 person

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