Emily M. DeArdo


Tidying Up

How I Kondoed My Books

Tidying UpEmily DeArdo3 Comments

This is one of the most common questions I get when I tell people I've "kondoed" my house--that is, used the principles in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. "What did you do with your books?!" DID YOU GET RID OF BOOKS, EMILY?!?!?!?!

Yes, I did. 

(Deep breath, guys)

It took me awhile to get up the nerve to do that. If you're not a book lover, you don't understand that statement. I had no problem doing my closet--I went through it like a tornado. It was easy. Books, not so much. 

The first time I read Marie Kondo's book, I thought getting rid of books was crazy. What if I NEEDED IT LATER? So I ignored that advice. 

Then I read the book a few more times, and it became clear that books were really something I needed to pare down. If I wanted to move again, I didn't want to move a bunch of books I didn't want. I really didn't need all the books I had. (Although "need" isn't a word I use when talking about books.) Some of them I never opened again after the initial read. I kept them because they "looked good" on my shelves, or I thought I'd need the entire works of Dickens at some point. (I don't really like Dickens.) 

I was too involved with being "the girl with the big library." It was time to pare down. 

To put this in perspective--I've taken almost 15 bags (tote bag sizes) of books, board games, DVDs, and CDs to Half Price Books since my Kondo project began. I've gotten about $120 (if not more) from selling these items. My house is much cleaner. I have books I really want on my shelves. It's true--I love really every book I own. And that makes me really happy. 

In Kondo's methodology, books are second, after clothes, in the Purgeathon. So this is how I did it. 

First: I did it very slowly

I knew this was going to take time. So I started methodically. I have my books arranged very stringently. I went through each shelf, looking, first, for the low hanging fruit--the books I was keeping, but I didn't really like. Out went a lot of Dickens, and a lot of "classics", like Les Liaisons Dangereuse and a lot of Evelyn Waugh (I kept Brideshead, but nothing else). Out went books I thought I "needed" to have--ta ta, War and Peace! Goodbye, most of my Russians! (I did keep Brothers K, because that's really good, guys. But I read The Idiot once, and never again.)  

I went through each shelf, pulling the books I hadn't opened in years, and didn't like. This was the first wave. 

I did NOT put all the books on the floor like Marie Kondo suggests. If I did that, I'd have had no space to do anything in my house, and I doubt I'd have moved as efficiently and as drastically if I'd done what she suggested. I probably would've been much more slipshod in my decisions. By doing it slowly, shelf by shelf, I was much better able to see what I had, and deal with things in my own way. 

It's also important to look at where your books are. In my house, they're everywhere; I have them on end tables, coffee tables, my nightstand, etc. They can easily become part of the landscape. A great part of Kondo's method is that she insists you see things in categories, as opposed to tidying by room (a la the Fly Lady Method--start with your kitchen, etc). Be sure to really look and notice where your books are. 

Second: I let my decision "sit" for a few days

In my living room is a constant "give away" pile. I let it grow until it's four or five bags worth of items, and then I sell them. (Or give them away, as the case may be.) This allowed me to make sure I didn't change my mind about any of them, or discard anything that I was going to want later. The books sat, sometimes for weeks, in the pile, and I saw them every day. If I felt an urge to read Jude the Obscure, I could do it. (I didn't, by the way) This kept me from selling any books I really wanted to keep. 

The other important thing to remember is that most books can be bought again, if you change your mind. (Obviously, this doesn't apply to rare books! So if you have heirloom books that you don't want, really think about those because you probably can't replace them!) 

Third: I did a second pass

And a third. And a forth. As I write this, the "fourth pass" is a big pile of books and a few DVDs in the "giveaway corner".  Kondo suggests doing this all at one time, and I did--initially. But I have so many books that it really did take time for me to see and process what I really had. (I probably had, at the beginning of this, 2,000 books. That's a conservative estimate.) This played out by removing books that really didn't sing to me; things like some of Jodi Picoult's books, YA series I'd liked but hadn't touched in years, theology books that I'd "outgrown" or didn't need anymore. A lot of my art books went (books from art museums detailing their catalogues)--pretty, but they took up a lot of space, and I never really opened them. 

I also let go of any "guilt" surrounding books. I get a lot of books as gifts. Sometimes people give me books I just don't like. I do read everything I get, however. But I had limited space, and someone else might like the book better. So off it went. Or, if it was a book I "wanted" to read, like War and Peace, but I knew I was never going to read, it went. (I've tried W&P three times. I even broke down and bought SparkNotes. No go. Out it went.) 

When Kondo talks about an object "sparking joy", that's important with books. If it didn't Spark Joy, or "sing" to me, as I term it,  it was out. 

Fourth: I rearranged my shelves

Into the void created by the Great Purging, I moved books. Books that had been on the floor now had a place on a window ledge or shelf. So while my book numbers were reduced, it looks like I had the same amount, because there weren't gaping spaces on my shelves. And this also gave me room for new books. Because, really, there is always an influx of new books coming in. I got three new books for Christmas, and I'm sure I'll buy more with my Christmas money. So I need that extra shelf space. 

Fifth: I sold the books!

Books that I had bought at Half Price I didn't sell back to them--those I donated to various places. But books that weren't from there, along with DVDs, CDs, and Board games, went to Half Price Books. For awhile, I was going twice a month, and getting quite a bit of money along the way. There is a way to sell there that allows you to get decent money--I didn't sell things that were in bad shape; I didn't sell kids' books (You get very little money for those, unless they're really nice hardback editions), and I usually sold books and DVDs together, to get more per transaction. 


A few notes/caveats: 

Now, I'm a single woman. All my books are mine, obviously. I don't share my library with anyone else. If you have a a spouse (and kids on top of that), you obviously cannot just go through and sell all their books. Focus on your own, first. 

I also didn't hold off on the rest of "Kondoing" while I did my books. I moved through the other categories while I made third and fourth passes, and now I'm at the point where I can move on to part II of the book  (for the rest of my Tidying Up posts, search "Tidying Up" in the search bar at the top right of this page--the posts will pop up). 

For a true book lover, the very IDEA of getting rid of books is appalling. Remember--you have to be ready to do it. I decided that it was worth it to me to have fewer books in my house, but to have more order, and feel better about the ones I did have.  I can safely say that I haven't regretted any of the books I've gotten rid of, and I'm much happier to have the extra space. 

That doesn't mean that I'll never have to purge again. Hopefully it won't take as long as this has! But I'm sure that eventually I'll be removing a few more books that I just don't love anymore. But the biggest and hardest part is done. 

I hope this helps you in your own Tidying Up Process! If you have any questions, leave them in the combox. :) 









Daybook No. 114

Daybook, books, goal setting, Tidying Up, Sketchbook SkoolEmily DeArdo1 Comment

Outside my window::

cloudy, but I saw dandelions the other day. DANDELIONS! In December! probably because our weather has been a lot more like spring than winter, lately--we've had a few deep frosts but it hasn't snowed yet, which is weird. Normally we've had at least one snow here by December. 


Jeans and a scoop neck "dark cherry" colored top, my St. Dominic medal, and my watch. Bare feet, which is appropriate because I'm watching a movie about St. Francis as I write this. 


All the Advent books, and Communion with Chris: according to St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. I also read Rosemary, a book about the Kennedy's oldest daughter, who had intellectual disabilities, and who was lobotomized by her father in the 1940s. The book was pretty well -written (I had quibbles with the author's "explanations" of some Catholic things, but that's par for the course...), and you can't help by feel sorry for her and the rest of her family, who didn't know what had happened to Rosemary until it was done. 

Listening to:

The Hamilton CDs (again)--and some of my Advent CDs. I might have to put in Messiah for today and tomorrow, since tomorrow is the Immaculate Conception (a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics), and the first part of Messiah is perfect for this. 

Goal setting:: 

Last week I did a lot if Powesheets work--goal setting for the New Year, and I'm pleased with what I've done so far. This is always an illuminating process for me. I'm on the actual goal setting steps now and I'm working on that part pretty slowly because I want to make sure that I'm setting the right goals. 

In one of the Advent books I'm reading, Come, Lord Jesus, Mother Mary Francis talks about the "dream the Lord has of [you.]" I want my goals to reflect that dream. 



working on the Powersheets last week!

working on the Powersheets last week!

Tyding Up::

This is hard because everything is so topsy-turvy with the Christmas decorations being out, and moving things around.  But I'm hoping I'm on the last "purge" of books and DVDs, and that I can have a whole post about the process in early 2016. 


I'm on the fourth week of my Sketchbook Skool Seeing class. I have to tell you, last week was hard. We were talking about continual line drawing and I was terrible at it when I first started. But by the end, I think I managed to do some decent work: 

lemon, pear, and bottle of olive oil. 

lemon, pear, and bottle of olive oil. 

This week, it's nature drawing, with is hard because it's December and there's not a lot of "nature" around. :) But I'll try to catch some of the squirrels and draw them for this week's assignment. 

From the kitchen::

Tonight I'm trying a new Nigella recipe--a chicken "tray bake" (meaning it's baked on a tray--clever, eh? :-P), with fennel and a citrus marinade. Tomorrow I'm making stew, because YUMMMM, and it's a feast day, so winner right there! 

Plans for the week::
ENT appointment today (I actually like seeing him, he's a great doctor.) Sunday is jam packed with CCD, our catechist meeting (we have one quarterly), and our Lay Dominican meeting, where a few members will make their life promises! (I did that last December) It's always exciting when that happens. 


Daybook No. 113

Daybook, books, Catholic 101, current projects, fiction, holidays, Tidying Up, writingEmily DeArdoComment


Outside my window::

Grey and cloudy. This is helped by my tree, which is glowing in the corner, and the Joy candle I have lit on my counter. I don't mind rainy days and this is a good day to get things done after the holiday weekend. SO much goodness happened, which I'll be writing about below--but suffice to say, I don't mind a rainy day today!


a Pure Barre sweatshirt, Athleta workout capris, and....flats. Yeah. This outfit is AWESOME, right? :) I'm going to be working out shortly, and since I'm hanging out around the house, does it matter what I wear? Well, OK, probably. But  don't care. :) 

In the CD player::

Renee Fleming's Christmas in New York, alternating with Part I of Messiah. And yes, Adele 25 is sitting on my counter, waiting to be heard.


Cinder (again), and my crazy stack of Advent devotionals: 

Come, Lord Jesus is my FAVORITE devotional for this time of year. SO much wisdom, so much to pray about. 


NaNo is over and I'm not even going to ouch Tempest until January. It is, though, tentatively the first book of a trilogy, so I've done some note taking and brief preliminary planning about those two books. I'm not pressuring myself to write anything substantial in those for awhile, and I'm sort of afraid to until I do Tempest edits. Suffice to say I have a vague idea of the content of those books, but that's all it is right now--a vague idea.

Also working on the new Catholicism series I talked about yesterday.  While I teach first graders, don't think I'm going to use first grade vocabulary and write like you are first graders, lovely readers. We'll use "big people" words and concepts. 


Tidying Up: 

I think I have just about reached the "click point" the book talk about--where you know how much of a thing you need. and you enjoy having. There are a few more books and movies that can go (this is like the fourth round of purging in that area), but I think I'm at the point of saturation. Yay! I didn't think I'd get here when I first started, to be honest. 

The second part of the book talks about finding places for everything. This is another hard thing for me because I have things that I need (like, Duct Tape), but where does it go? (It's too big for the junk drawer, it doesn't fit in the tool box, etc.) So that's what I'll be working on next. 

Since I've decorated for Christmas, there is some chaos around here, because I have to move furniture to put up my tree. But it's all good. 



I had a great holiday. Did you? I hope you did. Thanksgiving day was in the high sixties here, so we got to hang out on the deck and enjoy the warmth before dinner!

And yes, that's my sister, who came up from Houston to surprise me! She's here until tomorrow. We've had a LOT of fun while she's been here--she helped me decorate my tree, we went to the Penguins/Jackets game with our brother, and we all (us siblings) had a great meal last night at The Barn, one of our favorite local restaurants. Since Mel lives in Texas now, I don't get to see her nearly as often as I used to, and it's always fun when she comes up! 

I also had a great day with my friend Sarah (who made that GORGEOUS wreath two photos up). We had lunch and talked on a rainy Saturday while her husband watched the OSU/Michigan game with some of our friends. She's another friend I almost never get to see, and not nearly as much as I'd like. 

What was the best part of your Thanksgiving Weekend? 



Daybook No. 112

behind the scenes, books, Catholicism, current events, current projects, Daybook, Dominicans, fiction, knitting, links, Tidying Up, writingEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window::

Cloudy, a marked contrast from yesterday's blue skies and sun, but since It's going to be in the 60s, I'll take it. Especially since....gulp.....snow might in the future! 


My PJs--I just got up (it's 8 AM as I'm writing this) 


North and South, Mockingjay, Rising Strong,  and The Betrothed. I really like North and South--Margaret Hale is a great character. I'm late to the Rising Strong party, but better late than never, and I also have Daring Greatly to read.

In the CD player::

Fun Home and Hamilton. No Christmas music until at least after Thanksgiving!

Living the Liturgy::

Today is Lucy Pevensie's feast day! And since she's my Dominican patron, I get to party all day. 


Around the House::

Doing the deep cleaning to get ready for decorating> I don't have much to do--the tree, a few baubles, and my Fontanini creche (one of the best Christmas gifts I have ever received, ever). The Baby Jesus doesn't go in the creche until Christmas Eve, and the Magi make their way into the set proper by Epiphany. If you're looking for a Nativity set, I highly recommend this one. The figures are made of a type of plastic that means kids can chew on them, play with them, etc., and they won't break!

Speaking of Catholic households, this is a good article from Our Sunday Visitor that's worth a ponder. 

I'm also in the last stages of Tidying Up. I took three bags of books to Half Price books yesterday, so I'm still looking for the book/CD/DVD "click point" that Kondo talks about. I'm sure I'll find it--eventually. :) Until then, I just keep taking books to HPB. 


I have "won" NaNo--but the book's not done. Oh no. I'm going to write a sequel. (I can't believe it either!) Nothing about this book has gone the way I thought it would, but it's been in a great way. My friend Andrea says the "muse has inhabited me", and while that may or may not be true, it sure is fun. I will officially "win" NaNo on the 20th, when you can start verifying word counts. 

So I have to put an ending on this guy (a cliff-hanger, of course), and then start the new document for book two, maybe do some outlining--and then touch nothing until January. This is what usually happens with my NaNo books--I finish them in November and then don't touch them until January. That gives them, and me, a nice break before I begin revising/editing. 

And I can purl! You'll see the proof tomorrow in the Yarn Along. 



In light of the attacks on Paris, this is an excellent read. It's long, but it's well-worth the time it takes. 

There are so many problems in our world that are new, and all colliding at once--fighting a war against an enemy we can't see (as Judi Dench said in Skyfall), the Syrian refugees, elections, earthquakes in Mexico and Japan....

The only solution I can see to it is to pray more intensely. 


Plans for the week::

Not much, which is nice. CCD on Sunday, when we'll talk about Jesus' birthday (we talked about Advent last week). And then it's Thanksgiving week, and then we're into December! Holy cow!


This Week's Question: How do you celebrate Thanksgiving in your family? 






Daybook No. 111

Daybook, current projects, writing, books, fiction, Tidying UpEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window::

Gray and rainy, sort of windy. The last few leaves are clinging to the trees and it really feels like fall out there. Not that I mind. I'm ready for it, because I do love my sweaters, tea, books, and blankets. As long as it's not snowing (heaven forbid), I'm fine. 

(It's actually not my window. I'm at Starbucks, writing and getting lots of stuff done with a Peppermint Mocha to hand.) 


jeans, navy blue flats, fake diamond studs, and a sweater from Lands End that's "vicuna" (that's what they call this sort of creamy khaki color) and black stripped. It's super cozy and perfect for today. 


North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell; The Betrothed for Facebook Catholic Ladies' Book Club; The Fiery Cross (again). I've also got one more Neapolitan novel to read, but I think I'm going to wait to pick that one up. It's the last one, so savoring is appropriate. I'm also re-dedicating myself to finishing City of God sometime in the near future. It's just sitting on my "to read" pile and mocking me. 


So, NaNoWriMo is still off and running, and man, I am writing fast, but the book has changed a lot from my initial conception. I've changed the title, I've changed the plot--basically, the characters have told me that they want this story. Forgiveness is a major theme. I'm wondering if this should even be--gasp--a series. Because it might be too long for just one book. I can certainly write them as two. 

Julie (My protagonist) is a fascinating character to write, because she's really not like me, and that's a first. Most of my protagonists, up until now, have had some basis in myself. But not Julie. This is also a YA novel, and I've never purposefully written one of those before. 

I'm really excited about this project, which is funny, because at first I wasn't sure if I was going to Do NaNo at all--but now I've got characters that are really clicking, and a long-winding plot that might go for two books. I should hit the "winning" total- 50K- by the end of this week. 

Creativity In Other Areas::

My friend Sarah is going to help me master the art of knitting and purling in the same project! So we're going to hopefully have a yarn along update for you guys tomorrow! I'm also working on a bunch of new blog post ideas, including the return of the Food Stories posts. 

Quick Movie Review::


I saw Spectre with my brother last night, and it was better than I thought it would be. I don't know if it was as good as Skyfall, but it's really close, in my opinion. I love how the writers drew all of the Daniel Craig Bond plots together into a cohesive web. I don't know if we needed the car chase through Rome, but "reason not the need", as Lear says. Daniel Craig is great as Bond, and I love Ralph Fiennes as M (although I miss Judi Dench!). 

The ending was a bit abrupt and left me wondering what the next movie will be like. Speculation on the Interwebs is saying that movie will be out in 2017, so I guess I don't have too long to wait. 

(Although, one thing--can we stop with the efforts to dismantle the 00 Program, please? I mean, how many movies do we need before the British Government realizes that it's a very bad idea to do away with Bond and his ilk? Come on, guys!) 

(I also now feel the urge to watch all the Craig Bonds in succession. Maybe I'll do that after I finish writing today.) 

Tidying Up::

I have just about reached the end of the categories! The next step in the book is "finding a place for everything", and that might take some time. I'm going to re-read that section and try to get an idea of a game plan. 

Kondo talks about a "click point"--as in, you'll know when you're reached the optimal number of things you need in a category. I don't think I've hit it yet with my books or DVDs, so I'm going to keep culling. 

Listening To: