Is enough enough?

I consider myself fairly ruthless when it comes to decluttering but I'm struggling right now. I know many of you are expert flea market shoppers, travelers and collectors of all kinds so I figured I'd turn to you for advice.

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Our collection of travel books is kind of getting out of control. I don't want to throw them away because while they grow impractical for their original purpose with each passing day, they are a little reminder of where we've been. Right now they are looking a bit garish on my bookshelf but I think they might be extra cool in 30 years or so when we are all traveling via jet packs to outerspace.

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So the question is - do I continue to hold on the every growing pile? do I say goodbye to the lot? can I repurpose them for something cool? Anyone have a clever way of storing/displaying old books that might work for these?

Generally what are your thoughts on hoarding something so impractical as old paper? Discuss.

58 comments:

  1.  wrap them in kraft paper or other pretty paper, and display them on the shelves:

    http://storagegeek.tumblr.com/post/3730774808/thedaffodilsbloominspring-i-love-the

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  2. Mikki9:07 AM

     I would go to the glass store and purchase a beveled edge, rectangular piece of glass that was the size of a small side table top.  Then, I would stack the books on the floor and make them the "legs" of a table that you would create with the top.  This could be used as a side table in your office (if there is space) or as a plant stand, or really, anything that you would like it to hold.  This way, it's serving a purpose, looks really cool, and the books are being used in an unconventional way.  Just a thought!  Love the blog! 

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  3. Kelley9:09 AM

    oh i hear ya!  can't seem to part with my old books either!  if you really want to remember each trip, can you tear out some of your favorite maps/photos from each one + frame or scrapbook them? then recycle whats left!

    (finally redid out kitchen..., but my living room looks much the way it did when you redesigned it for me!

    hope all is well.
    -kelley 

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  4. You could recover the books with pretty scrapbook paper or even wrapping paper to coordinate with your decor.  They'd look really nice on a bookshelf... Don't toss them  I'm a hoarder -especially when it comes to books, lol!
    xo
    Mindy 

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  5. homeschooler9:40 AM

    If you decide to let them go, donating to a church library could be a great choice. Perhaps a church, such as the Brooklyn Tabernacle, would even send somebody to pick them up. Fun collection! 

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  6. Erin J Messner9:48 AM

    I think you'll value your amazing photographs, writings, memories and other momentos much more than your travel books.  Toss 'em (or donate them - consider a school in the area too - kids use them when researching!) and don't feel guilty! 

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  7.  Definitely keep them! Regular books that you've read. Go nuts. Donate'em. But your travel books? You must keep them! Either keep them as is or turn them into something. Like a massive wall art that uses all of the covers of each book. Either way - keep them!

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  8. I hang on to all my travel books, too.  I'm a ruthless book weeder, but for some reason can't get rid of those.  The only idea I can think of is to keep the covers and a few pages of each book that have meaning to you, and create a travel book.  You can use the pages as a background to display your favorite photo from each trip.  Can't wait to see what other ideas you get!

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  9. Hmm.  I don't know what I'd do.  Perhaps you could put tiny picture ledges along a wall, and display the books in rows, covers facing forward?  I suppose that they all have cool photos on their covers. 

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  10. Ms_Bright9:57 AM

    Don't you dare pitch those! You'll be so sorry if you do!!  

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  11. I was thinking something along the lines of what Making Lemonade said (great minds...:) ...but instead scanning the covers, printing and framing them, sort of like mini travel posters. Then donating the actual book.

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  12. Becca Jones10:22 AM

     I think you should keep them! I know that my stack is growing, and they are a little obnoxious looking. I mark up my travel books, so I want to keep the entire book. I am planning on just having them on a shelf in the den/office (when I get a den or office).

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  13. Carol Z10:34 AM

    Somewhere on the web, ages ago, I saw a wall divider made entirely of magazines. They were stacked on their backs, lined up, so that all the spines showed out. It was very cool looking. Since space is probably an option and this actually seems like a bit of a fire hazard (!), what about keeping the spines and making a framed collage? Just rows and rows of the spines of the books in no particular order, in a simple frame. Could be cool. 

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  14. Kimberlyvenzke11:08 AM

     Personally right now I like to keep them - BUT i don't have quite so many as you have yet - so perhaps one day there may be too many! One thing you can do is post them on paperbackswap.com it is this great site - where you swap books with people - so maybe someone out there is taking a trip to one of those places and needs one of your books - they request it and you mail it them, then you get a credit and you can order any book that you want from the site and someone else sends it to you. SO you know that the book is going to someone who really needs/wants it. And then you can get a new book that you haven't read yet! AND they can sit on your shelf until someone wants it. ha! I have basically built my whole book collection from that site - it is really great.

    Oh speaking of traveling - I just did a recent post on a trip to Southern Spain... have you been there??

    http://designingjewels.blogspot.com/2011/05/spanish-doors.html

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  15.  Well, I like books just like everybody else but travel books would have to go.  BUT, since there is sentimental value we're talking about, Consider ( I know most people wouldn't do this) taking the spine of the books (like in your pics) and make a large collage with the spines (I'm visually thinking of a subway like sign with your destinations).  Use a long rectangle frame and go for it. It'll make a big impact and a great conversation piece.  You can still hold onto the books if you have to or recycle them.

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  16. Piskie28111:33 AM

    I removed the covers and created a collage which hangs on my wall.  It keeps growing and I keep reframing it.

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  17. MrsLimestone11:43 AM

    Thanks. I know that site very well - used it a lot before I got a kindle.

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  18. MrsLimestone11:45 AM

    Great idea. Do you photos? I'd live to see it.

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  19.  If you simply want to cut down on the garish, you can store them in a bookcase or on a table as per usual, but turn them around so the pages face outward. That's hip right now.

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  20. I happen to hoard old books on every subject.  Do I ever read that Freud (college sociology 101)?  No, but I'm glad I have it.  Same with travel books.  (Ours live on a shelf in the bedroom).  Glad I have them, and as we tend to go back to places, they are useful.  Maybe along a catwalk along the ceiling of a room? 

    My real question is whether travel books have become obsolete.  We're planning a trip this summer, and there's so much info on the internet, do I even need a book? 

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  21. Victoria12:24 PM

    Can you use the covers in some cool, funky way?  Maybe a collage of frames on a "travel wall" - one frame for each book cover?  (With this option you could constantly add to the wall.)  Or mat them all together in one big frame, though this would be harder to update as you travel more.

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  22. Boomta212:27 PM

    Have you ever seen the "invisible bookshelf"?  They sell them on amazon and are pretty cool.  You could group them with some travel photos.... 

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  23. I know I'm going to catch the ire of book lovers with this suggestion (I'm not one of those people who considers books to be extra special and untouchable...sorry), but I recently saw a website where they had used books as frames.  They used an Exacto knife to cut out rectangles on the cover and about 20 or so pages, and then framed a photograph.  It would be a most unique way to display travel pictures, and would make a fantastic gallery wall.  The fact is, these travel books become outdated pretty quickly, so I vote for upcycling. 

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  24. Nicole_gt1:21 PM

    I did something like this with mine, actually- I covered a shelf full of rather unattractive paperbacks with plain white paper (I got extra large sheets of paper, standard weight). I had just bought a paper cutter, you know the kind with the arm that comes down and you run a little razor along it, and it went really fast. I didn't want the titles to stand out so I just used a pencil to write the title and author. It looks really beautiful now! I would think that this might be a good solution for you because you can leave the books out but instead of the garish colors, you have this graphic, artistic display.

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  25. Dana Amos1:38 PM

    i have no advice on what to do with the books, but as a traveler of sorts i can tell you from experience that my travel books are some of my most cherished pieces of literature. just the other day i stumbled upon my travel book from rome, and i was surprised at some of the sweet, sweet memories that were jogged from my brain upon thumbing through it. the things i didn't photograph or journal about are kept hidden in my travel books! keep them! 

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  26. You could scan the covers and Photoshop them into a collage, then print out on poster paper and frame it (or print it on canvas - that could look very cool).

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  27. Annabelvita1:53 PM

    I'd either stash em in a cupboard or print out maps of each destination and use those as slipcovers.

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  28. Elizabeth Johnston2:21 PM

     Keep your guidebooks, but make them look better by wrapping them in maps of places you have been:

    http://blackguidebook.com/2010/08/beautiful-guidebook-project/

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  29. Dinka2:24 PM

    I have this SAME EXACT PROBLEM - from the fact that I'm typically a "ruthless declutter-er," to the fact that travelling is my number 1 hobby (ooh, that makes me sound fabulously wealthy…lol! I wish!), to the issue that I used to have way too many travel books.  Here is how I personally solved the problem in a series of steps:
    1.) Thinned out the amount of books.  If I didn’t find them helpful, useful or interesting (basically, if I could not remember actually using them in any part of my trip), they went to the local school or public library as a donation.
    2.) Found a place for them.  Meaning, the bookshelf…but also meaning that if I already had specific book collections or arrangements going on in certain areas, they did not invade those shelves.  Mine are personally sitting in a little nook next to some travel souvenirs that are nicely displayed (or stored in pretty baskets).  I ALSO employ space with number…
    3.) Found ANOTHER place for the recent ones!  There are three – MAX – of my most recently-used travel books laid out on the coffee table shelf (below the actual table part).  This way when I am sitting with friends and we are talking about the latest places we’ve been or are going to, I have immediate reference (or lending) material!

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  30. Chelly Jones3:05 PM

    Definitely keep them. As I book lover the thought of giving them away breaks my heart unless you will give them to a budding traveler like yourself. I don't have any clever ideas on what to do with the books but just wanted to come out of hiding to say don't get rid of them! 

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  31. Keep them. They will prove to be quite the collection in 20 years and are nice way to remember where all you've been. 

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  32. Janette@the2seasons.com5:09 PM

     We, too, are world-wide travelers, and I always leave my book in the last hotel of our trip if they have a library.    I feel it might help the next person.   

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  33. We are in the same boat. I just can't part with 'em though. 

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  34. I consider my books to be artwork. I say keep 'em.  

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  35. asenseoforder7:23 PM

    I would make a vignette of the travel books hanging on a vertical book shelf (I have seen them somewhere on the net where it is attached to the wall and the books are stacked vertically one at a time) then next to it put some of your framed travel photos and maybe a framed collage of tickets etc....well it is an idea

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  36. Ashley7:25 PM

     There are great tutorials for making them hallow.  To stash things in.  However, it's still a lot of wasted space in this case.  I suggest keeping the covers and using them to recover notebooks or other things.  Maybe frame a few if they're pretty.  Put them where you'll actually enjoy them.

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  37. Victoria7:28 PM

     Im sure someone already commented this but I am in LOVE with this book table... http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_0Pea98K5WQE/THPDxQWUIPI/AAAAAAAAAT8/jzUafvYRDGU/s1600/IMG_8488.jpg

    and this book rug is pretty cool too...

    http://modernmourner.blogspot.com/2011/04/sentimental-repurposing-books.html

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  38. Must keep! Travel books are a snapshot of a country, it's people, and traditions, frozen in time. They will be cool to see in many years. I would simply stack them in a corner of the living room, floor to ceiling. Keep them tight to the wall with acrylic strips so you can still see them and take them out and read them.

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  39. MrsLimestone7:57 PM

    Oh and I've only been to Barcelona and madrid (both trip reports are on the travel page)

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  40.  I work at a library, and several years back we got a donation from someone in the form of a side table.  The base of the table was constructed of books stacked and bound on top of one another, and the table top had decoupage inserts from the books all over it. Maybe you could do something like that?  You'd still have the memories and the books without getting rid of them...It might be cool.

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  41. Somewhere on the web I saw a desk made out of stacks of library books. I think it was from a library in Denmark or the Netherlands. I can't remember. But you could create a little nook in your limestone with them & hang some of your travel photos with them!

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  42.  hmmm, while i don't have half as many guidebooks as you do i do have a few and can understand your dilemma...information gets outdated and changes so quickly that it is kinda pointless to keep 'em around....but i just can't part with them!

    maybe (neatly) cut the covers off each and make a collage - all under one big frame? that might look neat and would be  a nice reminder of your travels...then i'd simply box the books up and put them out of sight. if you ever do want to flip through one for whatever reason you'll still have it.

    looking forward to hearing what you decide. many good suggestions here :)

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  43. Cdallaire764:01 AM

    I just returned from London with a travel book I bought 12 years ago for my first trip there... Need I say it was sligthly outdated?!?!? Still, I will keep all of my travel books, can't get rid of them, so many memories!

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  44. imo windle5:51 AM

    Declutter all the way. It's the memories that count. Are you opening them and using them or are they just taking up space? If you think the colours and garish and don't fit with your decor/aesthetic, maybe get rid of them. I hope someone has some great ideas for repurposing them. I try and work on the theory that if you don't love something, it doesn't belong in your house! Best of luck!

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  45. imo windle5:51 AM

    Declutter all the way. It's the memories that count. Are you opening them and using them or are they just taking up space? If you think the colours and garish and don't fit with your decor/aesthetic, maybe get rid of them. I hope someone has some great ideas for repurposing them. I try and work on the theory that if you don't love something, it doesn't belong in your house! Best of luck!

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  46.  How about a dedicated bookshelf or some sort of furniture for them,  something well traveled and real.  Personally i am not a believer in covering books to make them work with your decor.  Embrace their uniqueness and let their natural beauty shine.  I have an extensive collection too and enjoy lending them to friends.

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  47. Goldie9:38 AM

    I think this is a really sweet idea.  Maybe the heart-shapes aren't your thing, but any cut-out shape would work: http://www.curbly.com/diy-maven/posts/10278-diy-idea-places-you-heart-map-art

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  48. Our Humble A{Bowe}d10:37 AM

     What if you had a painting of your books?  Something like this: http://www.etsy.com/listing/61278793/bookshelf-42-pjm-8x10-in-print That way, you have the memories, but you don't have to keep the books around.  Just an idea. That way, you have the memories, but you don't have to keep the books around.  Just an idea.

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  49. Jennifer B.12:02 PM

    Take your favorite pictures & maps out of all the books and upcycle an old trunk! Cover it with the pictures with mod podge and then cover with a coat of poly! Here's how I revived my old trunk with pictures from old National Geographic magazines!
    http://jsbeard.blogspot.com/2011/02/how-to-revive-antique-trunk.html

    Jennifer B.

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  50. I love to keep hold of all my old travel books. They're handy to give to friends and serve as an instant remnder of great vacations.

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  51. Cassie {hi sugarplum}9:56 AM

    oooo, good question...our collection is growing too. how about covering them all in kraft paper so they are cohesive on the shelf?

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  52. Sangee123412:53 PM

    I think you should use the covers and beautiful pictures from teh book to frame or make a collage of all teh cool places you have been to 

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  53.  I am all for keeping books but would recommend swap.com if you don't want them anymore.

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  54. melinda ke8:56 PM

    Maybe when you are ready to let go of them you can see if any of your readers would want them, or you could do some kind of swap if they have any on a new place you're thinking about traveling to.  Seems like such a waste to put them in the recycle bin if someone else can get some use out of them.

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  55. My thoughts on hoarding paper..ummm..I thought I was collecting. :) I wonder if there's a way to make a hollow book out of paperbacks? Surfboard varnish? {I have no idea where to get that, but now I want to try it} I've only seen it with hardcover. Maybe put in some photos from your trip, they would be fabulous gifts, or a place to store some of your travel treasures. 

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  56. I have a ton of these, also.  I love them and will not part with them  I saw something that I think could be fun. Check out the Chiasso website for something called "invisible bookshelves".  All you see are the books that appear to be stacked in mid-air against the wall. 

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  57. I cannot help but to hold on to things like these. However, I was inspired a few days ago by Martha Stewart Weddings... use items from your trip to create a matte for a photo from your trip. Check her version here http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/photogallery/good-things-for-destination-weddings#slide_5

    You could even photocopy some of the pages to create a black and white or dull (using 50% light/dark) version of a few pages to not take away from the color of the photo.

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  58. graceomc5:04 PM

    Sorry to be so late to the party, but I travel, love to travel, love travel books, photos (including yours -- lovely) so if this was my decision...  I would keep the better illustrated travel books--like Insight Guides -- and put aside the more pedestrian and useful guides like Frommers, Fodors, Steves, etc.  I would also look for and keep "boutique"  guides like any of the Karen Brown series.  And I would read and keep specialty travel writers -- one of my old favorites Kate Simon (d. 1990) and the memorable Freya Stark.  These with your photos and voila! a collection.  Seriously your photos and blog are lovely and this is just my take on a controllable and fun collection.

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