Spring cleaning, when it comes to romance novels, is not about the cull. Okay, it’s not only about the cull. Let’s be honest; the cull comes to almost all of us, in time. Books release every single week. Bookshelves do not magically expand (if there is ever a Bookshelf of Holding, I want one. Okay, several. About ten would be nice. More, if I can stack them inside each other.) nor do living quarters, so critical mass will be reached at some point, and we’ll have to make decisions about what stays and what goes. Fortunately, with the e-book revolution, we can move many of our hardcovers and paperbacks to electronic format, and gain space without losing many (or, in some cases, any) books. Sweet deal. So, what other aspects does this “spring cleaning” thing cover? Glad you asked. Get comfy, because we are going there.
For those of us in the Northern hemisphere, it’s spring, and that means, for many of us, a fresh start. Time to throw open the windows, cast off the many layers of insulation we needed for winter, and get some breathing room, literally and figuratively. It only makes sense that this should extend to our bookshelves as well. There’s a particular kind of therapy that can only be found by sitting on the floor, surrounded by our books, background music (or lack thereof) of choice to inspire us, perhaps a beverage, adult or otherwise (I’ll take tea, thanks) and moving said books around. This may not involve culling anything, so the stress is off in that regard. What we’re doing is taking what we have, and looking at it in a different way. Maybe we’ve had our books shelved higgedly-piggeldy over the winter, the better to be back under a cozy blankey as soon as humanly possible, but now…now we have some options.
Libraries are on to something when they shelve books by section, then alphabetically by author within that section, and that’s absolutely one way to go. Decorating magazines all too often shelve books by color, big blocks of red and blue and yellow and purple and green and whatever other color combinations the designer or stylist fancies, but we readers respond to that with a scoff. How on earth is one supposed to actually find the books one wants to read at a given time? This is where we have the chance to tailor our shelves to our own personal preferences. Want to keep all of an author’s books together? Great. Want to spread them out over the different genres in which that author writes, so all of their historicals are with all of the other historicals, all their paranormals with all the other paranormals, contemporaries with contemporaries, etc? Fabulous. Make that happen.
No exemption for readers who partly or primarily get their books electronically. Ever notice how fast those one clicks can accumulate, especially when bargain priced or free? Shelving by author, category, time period or other criteria can make things easier to locate, as does dividing one’s library between read, to be read, and possibly even to be re-read. For those truly dedicated, additional storage in the form of USB drives or cloud storage may come in handy. For those books that flat out didn’t work out (we’ve all known a few) the answer is simple; delete. Ahh, that feels good. Look at all that space for even more books.
Wait, wait, I hear you say; this wasn’t going to be all about the cull. It’s not. Had to get that out of the way first though (see what I did there?) Spring also means new life, and that applies to reading life as well. Those of us of a certain age may remember the spring or Easter themed traditional Regency anthologies Signet used to release around this time of year. Those of us who still have some in the vault, or who are up to a UBS run can still keep the tradition alive today. Spring-set romances abound in every subgenre, which is a very good thing, and it’s the perfect time of year to take a chance on something new. Maybe, for those newer to the genre, this could mean searching out one of the very earliest historical romances from the early 1970s, when the genre as we know it was born. Never tried a category line that has always looked oh-so-intriguing? Throw caution to the winds and give it a go. Who knows where the adventure might lead?
Some of us prefer different sorts of reads for different times of year, so this turn of season signals a shift in reading patterns. Whether it’s a change from e-books to paperbacks (no need to worry about battery life while outside, away from chargers) or breaking up with high-powered billionaires, to revisit first love with YA heroes with a lifetime of love ahead of them. Maybe it goes the other way around. Maybe it’s different every year. Maybe it’s time to finally jump on that one series we’ve heard lots about, but have never started ourselves, because it’s so darned long, and no end in sight. Maybe time to cleanse the palate with a standalone, those lovely unicorns of the publishing world. Maybe it’s even something we won’t know exists until we meet it on a real or virtual shelf, and the magic hits. Stranger things have happened.
So, dear readers, I turn it now over to you. Do you have any spring cleaning rituals to your reading routine? Do they all involve moving things out, or do they include bringing new things into your reading life? Do you keep your bookshelves for books only, or do special other items have a place there, too? If you’re thinking the whole idea of a spring cleaning for reading is ridiculous, we want to hear about that, too. Pull up a chair in our comments section and tell us all about it. There’s room for everybody at this table.