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Shelfwalking: The path towards being OC

by Karl Mabutas

Nothing beats the refreshing look of piles of books lying around in your wonderful space. It is greener than nature, whiter than crystals, and shinier than the most expensive gadget you currently have. Why, you ask? Because those are the visual representations of your page-by-page success. The look and feel of recollecting your fun plot times with John Green, J.K. Rowling, and the likes are too good and must be kept in the best condition possible.

And today, I am about to unleash my beasts out into the virtual wilderness. I am to give a tour of all my books and everything in relation to it.

But first, do you own a bookshelf?

What kind of question is that? Hahaha… Sadly, I don’t.

I’m looking for shelves that can fit in our house, which has little room left for more furniture. I tried allocating one compartment for my books, but I end up making a mess because I always take out my other books just to see how they’re doing and don’t put them back in. (Read: It’s called Laziness.) I am seeking my “soulshelf.” I’ll find her sooner or later when I know it’s meant to be. ❤

But to give you an idea of my bookpile, I’ll be figurative:

It is like EDSA People Power Revolution. It may be messy, but it’s definitely worth it.

What genre do you read?

I’m open to all genres of books as I am not picky with themes, but I am strongly sensitive towards dystopia. You can only see me reading a dystopian novel when it’s a satire on current global situations, like how Marie Lu did with the Legend series.

But, if I were to pick a genre, I’m most comfortable reading Middle Grade Fantasy, World War Historical Fiction, and contemporary (with the slightest chance of cancer).

How do you keep your books in mint state?

I don’t know if you guys do this as well but what I usually do after buying a book (from either a thrift store or a bookshop) is wrap it in plastic for better protection. I treat my books as if I’m protecting my smartphone screen with tempered glass. I pick the best plastic cover with the best thickness possible (a CPC-45 Gauging from 5 to 8 inches to 13.50 inches by 5 meters, to be exact). I wrap my books at least a thumb longer than the book itself. In addition, for easier access to the book, I only do a basic fold at the top so I can take it off and put it back on when I want to.

It started with the first book I ever bought (a John Green book) and eventually became such a hobby that even my colleagues want me to reseal their books too. Call me OC but I really want my books to beat their decomposition as I am still haunted by a past book-aging dilemma:

How do you arrange your books?

I’m a complete rookie when it comes to organizing my books. I always change the way I arrange stuff. First, I arrange my books according to color. A week later, by genre. Then by height, and so on. So, as of this writing, this is how I arrange my books:

Exhibit A: Secondhand books

  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
  • The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by e. lockhart

These are the titles that I got for $5 (Php 250) and below. Some of which I was surprised to find in a thrift store like Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. I had to grab that piece of majesty because, duh, Kazuo Ishiguro. Moreover, why wouldn’t someone take advantage of a book in very good condition at an affordable price, right? I am just glad these books found a loving home.

Exhibit B: Read books

  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  • Paper Towns by John Green
  • Ask The Passengers by A.S. King
  • We Were Liars by e. lockhart
  • Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
  • Room by Emma Donoghue
  • Me and Earl And The Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of The Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • More Than This by Patrick Ness

These are some of the books I have truly enjoyed so I keep them to relive certain plot moments. Most especially my all-time favorite, Patrick Ness’s More Than This. This book gave me all the shock, goosebumps and realizations that has truly sunk into my bookish soul forever. The other books I keep because I feel all their uniqueness emanate from their story lines, plus the characters are truly remarkable.

However, one series I’ve read but still don’t own and would really want to have is the Legend series by Marie Lu. I am still trying to figure out how I’ll buy the series as I am trying to keep up with the good book buys for this year and the past (i.e. Ruta Sepetys, Anna and The Swallow Man, etc.). I just hope I can grab a copy of the series this year.

(Note: One might notice that I blabber too much about the Legend series. It’s because it’s that damn good, so you should read it too!)

Exhibit C: “The Lair of the Unread”

  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  • Tutubi, Tutubi, Wag Magpapahuli sa Mamang Salbahe by Jun Cruz Reyes
  • The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • The Shock of The Fall by Nathan Filer
  • 1984 by George Orwell (in two copies)
  • All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • Another Day by David Levithan
  • Struck by Lightning by Chris Colfer

These are the highlights of my unread books (the list is too long to be compressed in a photo collage) and I, myself, cannot believe I’m eons behind my TBR pile.

My unread pile is a combination of classics, contemporary novels, historical fiction and fantasy. And yes, I still haven’t read the Harry Potter series.

Some of these books are intimidating to me and my schedule does not give me enough time to tackle my TBR pile right now. However, when I have enough time to smother them, I literally am going to jump right into these books. (But I will not because it is too hard for my soul. Who “literally” jumps into their books anyway?)

Exhibit D: The Hobbies (I tried)

  • The Complete Poems of Edgar Allan Poe
  • Dekada (Literary compilation from my past school paper affiliate, The Work)
  • The ABCs of Hand Lettering by Abbey Sy
  • Chasers of The Light by Tyler Knott Gregson
  • Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
  • Hand Lettering Ledger by Mary Kate McDevitt

These books are my go-tos when I’m bored or pumped up for something creative to do. In the past, I’ve tried lettering with a little poetry to make my hands and words effectively harmonic, rather than have mathematical formulas dump on them while I’m at school. I usually do better when I find inspiration from one of these books.


And that’s it! The book pile tour is done!

Some books, however, were not part of the tour because I lent them to my friends, who I encourage to read by recommending good titles I have personally read. (And I usually threaten them whenever they make a slight tear or crease on my books because why would you do that?! I will come for you at 3 a.m. Bwahaha! Kidding.)

I’ve also sold my other books because they, in my opinion, lack the quality I want from the books I keep. Lastly, some books are still on their way to our mail and will be on the process of being resealed once more. What can I say? I just love them to the point of having an OCD.

Post Script: The Book Challenge

Following International Women’s Day, I challenged myself to read something not so natural for me. It may not be directly targeted towards women, but still, it’s a go for a woman lead. So this month, I am trying Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. Wait for my verdict on this one!




One response to “Shelfwalking: The path towards being OC”

  1. Hi Karl,

    It’s nice to read about someone else who has books for different moods, budgets, memories, wannareads or just because the cover is evocative.

    You might like this bit of book furniture that we have just designed and are looking at launching on kickstarter. Its for people who have loads of books but maybe aren’t grown up enough for bookshelves, or don’t see their favourites fitting in the same line.

    It might just suit the various different books and types of books that you love. It’s made for people who love their books, want to showcase what they like and have them near them.

    Let us know what you think….



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