True Life: My Bookshelves Are a Shitshow.


(Two things before we get into the meat of the post, 1: all links are affiliate links when they link to Amazon. 2: The Vegan MaPo Tofu at the end is the yummiest ever, and that’s not hyperbole.)

“Give me a room whose every nook is dedicated to a book.”

Robert Southey

Ok, I am a firm believer of throwing shit away. Having lived in NYC for well over a decade, I know how precious space is, and I understand the importance of paring everything down to the lowest-possible levels. Lately, I’ve focused on making a capsule wardrobe, (which is plum easy when you wear mostly neutrals plus shades of royal colors and plaid/stripes.) Tee shirts, blazers, and pants! DONE. (And like, a kilt or five.) I routinely donate clothing to my local charity shop, (Housing Works) and I make sure much of what I have does more than one thing. (My kitchen is a wonderland.)

So, of course I was drawn into the craze of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. This woman apparently has all of the answers to everything! Throw shit away! DONE! Go through your wardrobe. DONE! Go through your linens/kitchen/makeup. DONE! Go through your books.

Books are my life. I actually breathe words. I am sure of it. I sleep with a thesaurus under my pillow. The OED is like foreplay. Billy Pilgrim stares at me from across my desk. (Literally. I have a quote of his/Vonnegut’s across from where I write.)

Getting rid of books does not make me happy. In fact, it makes me very, very sad. Now, if I am giving something away that I enjoyed but don’t plan on reading again, or that I think someone else may love that I did not, that is different. That is personal. I understand that at some point I’ll reach the end of my space for books, and I don’t intend to be the sort who piles stacks of books all over their floor. But, I know that getting rid of my happy comfort blanket of books would NOT make me happy or feel lighter,–in spite of the Konmari™ method.

I will get rid of almost anything else, but you’ll have to knock me out for weeks to get rid of my books. So yes, my bookshelves are a bit of a shitshow. My kids have a tendency of reading something and then just putting it anywhere, but, they’re READING. My books may bow under the weight of Bleak House, but that book is so well-used that it’s barely holding it together.

In fact, I love my books so much, this would be my jam if I was just to sit and gaze at my books:


But I think I’m still mostly tidied up. The book was about being HAPPY AND FREE in your space–and my books make me both. Books are an expression of art. That art is uniquely valuable for its ability to completely transport the reader. There’s no room for anything else when you have one in your hands, and that’s magical.

*I should also mention that I have as much music as I do books, but digital formats don’t get so damaged as CDs, so yes, I’ve switched. As for LPs, oddly, I never got into them, even though I find the medium beautiful.

So keep your books. Keep what makes you happy–no matter the current craze.

The Life Changing Magic of Literature–on keeping a large library. #books #tidyingup #readersunite

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Recipe, Please!

Vegan MaPo Tofu

vegan mapo tofu

Cat Bowen

Yields serves 4

Vegan MaPo Tofu

an easy and quick recipe for vegan mapo tofu.

15 minHow Long is This Going to Take?

20 minCook Time

35 minTotal Time


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What Goes In?

  • 1 block silken tofu
  • 2 oz dried shitake mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 2 tbsp sweet soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fermented chili black bean paste
  • 1 tbsp chili paste
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil like grapeseed
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • water for boiling

Avengers, Assemble!

  1. bring about 4 cups of water to boil in a saucepan
  2. add mushrooms and cook until tender
  3. chop mushrooms and drain on a paper towel for 10 minutes
  4. in a large skillet, add oils and turn to medium
  5. add garlic and ginger, saute until you can smell them beginning to toast
  6. add shitake and cook 5 minutes
  7. using a slotted spoon, drain the shitake into a bowl
  8. cut tofu into cubes and add to skillet
  9. add soy sauces, bean paste, and chili pastes
  10. stir and cook until hot
  11. add shitake back into the skillet
  12. serve over rice.
  13. (the shitake will absorb ALL the salt if you cook it with the salty pastes.)
Cuisine: Chinese | Recipe Type: vegan, vegan main courses, tofu


16 cal


1 g


1 g


2 g

Click Here For Full Nutrition, Exchanges, and My Plate Info