What’s on YOUR Bookshelf?: Tsh Oxenreider shares her shelves

Today we get to sneak a peek at the personal bookshelves of Tsh Oxenreider. Tsh is the founder and main voice at The Art of Simple (formerly Simple Mom) and is the author of Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living and One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler.

Her third book, Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World, is due out February 4. It’s part memoir, part travelogue, part practical guide, and I can’t wait to read it.

Tsh has excellent taste in books (as you can tell from this round-up of her favorites), and I’m giddy about getting to snoop her shelves today. Let’s take a look.

Tsh large

1. Tell us a little bit about your shelves and how your books are organized.

As much a fan I am of getting rid of clutter, books are the only thing I don’t hesitate to keep around. The kicker, though: they have to be classics. Now, I’m being pretty generous with the term “classics;” I don’t mean they have to be huge and dusty and full of antiquated language. I mean they have to be classics for us—books that we’ll read again and again because they’re timeless, they’ve stayed with us, they’ve affected us permanently in some way, we’d read them again. Otherwise, we’ll check them out at the library.

So, we’ve got a lot of bookshelves, and they’re almost all full. They’re like plants to me; they add oxygen to the atmosphere. They’re scratched from pulling and pushing books off and on, and they get dusty fast. They’re workhorses. They’re mass-produced from IKEA, but they’re special to me.


2. How are your books organized?

Much to my husband Kyle’s chagrin, they’re alphabetized by the author’s last name. I wish I were the free-sprited type who’s got her books organized by ROY G BIV spines, but that just feels like blasphemy to my obnoxiously INTJ heart.

My organization is honestly for a purpose—it’s so I can find the books faster. When Kyle says, “But what if you don’t remember the author’s name?” my reply is, “Well, I’ll learn it.” As an author, I feel like it’s giving honor to my tribe by recognizing that there’s a real person behind those pages, and that they deserve credit for writing them. I know; I’m a bit ridiculous.

Our kids’ shelves are organized by author’s last name, but only the first letter. So, a cube of the shelf has the label “A-C,” for example, and any book written by Anno, Bemelmans, or Carle is housed there. I want them to learn how to organize books, but I don’t want to make it so complicated that I end up having to do it. That’s my compromise. (I know, I’m SUCH a fun mom.)

What's on YOUR Bookshelf?: Tsh Oxenreider shares her shelves.

3. Do you have a favorite shelf?

I want to eventually make a dedicated shelf for all the writers I know personally, but I haven’t done that yet. Honestly, so many friends are writing books these days I could probably fill an entire set of shelves in a few years! Which is supremely cool.

I guess right now, my favorite shelf is my nightstand, because it means the books I’m currently reading are waiting for me, ready for my happy place between crawling into bed and falling asleep.

What's on YOUR Bookshelf?: Tsh Oxenreider shares her personal bookshelves

4. Any special titles you’d like to point out to us?

My “B” section is pretty full, for some reason. I love Elizabeth Berg’s novels, so those have substantial space on my shelf (my favorite of hers is The Art of Mending), as do Dave Barry books (Dave Barry Slept Here is the best). I also like my “currently reading” shelf on my Kindle—it includes Pride and Prejudice, Walden, Margin, Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness, The Husband’s Secret, and Sacred Pathways.

Of course, I have to give a shout-out to all the Harry Potter books, who’ve each been checked out no less than three times each since we moved to Bend, Oregon two years ago. They’re favorites among the grownups and oldest child in the house, but we still don’t own them. So I guess you could say another favorite bookshelf of mine resides over at the public library about two miles down the road.

*****     *****     *****

Notes from a Blue Bike: This book is about living life instead of life living us.

Thanks to Tsh for sharing her shelves with us!

Notes from a Blue Bike hits the shelves on February 4. Preorder it now to get a slew of goodies (and the guaranteed best price). (Isn’t that bicycle necklace adorable?)

Any comments or questions about Tsh’s shelves? Any books you’re now inspired to add to your reading list? (I added a few.) Tell us in comments.

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  1. Leigh Kramer says:

    I love hearing about your organization system, Tsh! I don’t alphabetize my shelves but I do keep an author’s work together and group according to genre. No ROYGBIV-ing here!

    While I have nothing but love for libraries, I hope you will soon have your own Harry Potter set. Those are definitely own-able books. I’m missing a few titles but I’m keeping an eye for good copies at my favorite used bookstore.

  2. Breanne says:

    Books are the one area that I have a hard time purging. So many of them are old friends and have been part of our journey.
    Love those IKEA bookshelves and what you said about them – being mass-produced by IKEA but special to your family.

    I’ve never read Elizabeth Berg but now I want too. Thanks for sharing your shelves, so fun!

  3. Sarah Beals says:

    So fun. Thanks, Tsh, for the peek into your library. Mine are organized by topic mostly, which can become a little cluttered a book covers several topics. Mainly Christian living, Counseling, Bio, Kids, Homeschooling, History, etc.
    Bonhoeffer keeps appearing! Need to get that one!

  4. Callie Moon says:

    I loved Tsh’s favorite books and will need to add those to my list of books to read! My shelves are organized by subject and it works well for finding what we need and browsing the types of books that I’m in the mood for. I’m so excited to receive my own copy of Tsh’s new book!! It is on my Books To Read List for 2014.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Nice to see you over here at Anne’s blog, Tsh! I’ve always been a little curious about the way you organize the books in your place as both an avid book lover and minimalist. It’s nice to see how you merge the two.

  6. Stephanie says:

    I had to laugh about ROYGBIV shelving being blasphemous. I love the look it creates, but as a fellow INTJ I feel the same way! Definitely alphabetical (by genre) for me! 🙂

  7. Stephanie says:

    Very cool. Thanks for giving us a peek at your bookshelves, Tsh! I especially like the idea of a dedicated bookshelf of authors that you personally know or have had the privilege of meeting.

    Great series, Anne!

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