How Organizing My 700 Books Makes Me Feel Less Chaotic

As I prepare to move, boxing up my books is strangely calming… and reminds me of who I am and want to be.

Eve Peyser

--

Photo by Brandable Box on Unsplash

Every time I move, I am reminded that I have entirely too much stuff. To be clear, this is not a weird brag — it’s not like every time I hop from mansion to an even bigger mansion I am forced to spend hours boxing up my diamonds and furs. The things I am burdened with are pretty pedestrian: a surfeit of papers and documents that aren’t worth keeping but seem too important to throw away; lots of baking pans and cake molds and every kitchen utensil you could dream of; multiple boxes of half-used markers; 20 years worth of journals; oh, and approximately 700 books that my fiancé and I have accumulated over our lifetimes.

The best and worst part of moving is taking stock of all these belongings — sorting through the piles of shit that somehow tell the story of who I am, neatly transferring them into boxes in a way that makes sense. The entire process can feel chaotic and overwhelming; it’s not just packing, it’s also telling your landlord you’re not renewing your lease before you’ve found another place to live and doing all the little things like canceling your electricity and internet and hiring people to help you carry your unbelievably heavy pullout sofa into the U-Haul.

I’m moving away from the Nevada desert for the wetter pastures of the Pacific Northwest at the end of the month, and I’ve decided to pack the 700 books that live inside my home first. (To be clear, this number is not precise, but I am also not exaggerating when I tell you that I own approximately 700 books. I have a problem!) And as I box up all these books, I’m doing something I’ve always dreamed of doing but never had the moxie to execute: alphabetizing and categorizing them. So far, I have boxed up fiction A-K and poetry. I plan on fully alphabetizing the fiction, while arranging the nonfiction by subject matter, and thus, finally realizing my dream of becoming an organized book person. (I always strive to be more tidy and organized.)

My fiancé supports my endeavor, but also doesn’t understand why I’m so keen on the whole thing. Sorting through all my objects as I move, culling the things I don’t want and…

--

--

Eve Peyser

nyc native living in the pnw. read my writing in the new york times, nymag, vice, and more.