book day


Every day of vacation (even on Christmas), Gabe asked, “Are we doing the book project?” Finally, on the last day before school started again, we dove in.

Few things define our family like our love of books. Bookshelves dominate every room, each child (and parent) has a stack of novels spilling from their nightstand, meals and bedtime discussions revolve around “have you read?” and we are constantly creating wish lists.

To me, buying books is high priority. I’d rather skip a vacation than skimp on books; forget Disneyland, give me Peace Like a River (did you click on that link? One penny for a hardback copy!).

But our abundance of reading material is an organizational nightmare. Several times in past months we’ve been unable to find beloved tales– hence, Gabe’s dismay– it was time to completely renovate our system.


Gabe and his best friend Will took over picture book duty. Despite every child reading advanced books, we’re still not ready to pack the picture books away. Will we ever?


The boys laughed as they sorted the books, “We can see your various stages of book buying mom– library sales, thrift shops, garage sales, Scholastic flyers…” I’m now a big fan of Amazon; especially those one cent books.


All day, the kids recommended books to each other– “You haven’t read The Thief? You have to read that.” I laughed as they practically bore testimony of favorite books– “It changed my life.”

Oh, well, maybe that was me. Words have always been my lifeline and my solace.


When Stefan was little, I worked hard finding books appropriate for his age and still challenging. Patrick McManus books (if you have boys, go buy all of these right now)and the Redwall series were perfect fits.


All of this book moving kicked up masses of dust and dirt. Erik and bunny took on cleaning duty.


Of course, there were casualties along the way. All day long we chided each other– “Stop reading and get back to work!”

Even after eight hours of work, our system is pretty haphazard. No Dewey Decimal at our house– it’s more like ‘favorite series’ ‘favorite stand alones’ ‘childhood classics’ ‘World War II books’ (one of my especial weaknesses) ‘books Gabe should read this year’ ‘books Mary should read this year.’

One of our key ideas was that every book on our shelves came with our recommendation of ‘this is worth your time.’ With that in mind we filled baskets with rejected tomes and in one of those serendipitous moments we opened the door to find a flyer for a book drive on our porch.


I’ m just thrilled we made a little room for the books we’ll fall in love with this year.

What’s on your wish list?

January 5, 2012
January 11, 2012



  1. Blue

    January 7, 2012

    I’d love to borrow Peace Like a River if it’s available! 🙂

    Also, do you have a package you need me to send? Let’s talk soon ♥

  2. Selwyn

    January 8, 2012

    My wish list is huge – and always will be. There’s always more books than time for me!

    And I’m still waiting for that list of dates…. Luvies!

  3. Lisa

    January 8, 2012

    Oh I LOVED “Peace Like A River”, one of my favorites of all time! I need to see that shelf with all of your favorites. As for me…I’m re-re-reading (again)”Gone With The Wind.” Frankly my dear…

  4. Kristin

    January 8, 2012

    Just purchased Peace Like a River on Amazon…any chance you or some of your older boys might be willing to put together a recommendations list? We have loads of picture books and early chapter books but now that my oldest girls (who are voracioius readers) are getting older we could use some more reading suggestions. (Plus I’d love some new material too.)

    I too love to purchase books. When we were first married and students at BYU one month I spent more on books than we spent on rent. The book fairs and book order deals in the schools I was student teaching and volunteering in were too good to pass up! Dave promptly placed me on book restriction the next month. 🙂

  5. Caroline

    January 8, 2012

    On my wish list is the money and space to buy books as freely as you, and the energy to carve out more time to turn off the TV/computer to read them!!

    (long time reader, first time commenter…your pictures are so lovely and your family so full of love, I really enjoy your blog!)

  6. Caroline

    January 8, 2012

    On my wish list is the money and space to buy books as freely as you, and the energy to carve out more time to turn off the TV/computer to read them!!

    (long time reader, first time commenter…your pictures are so lovely and your family so full of love, I really enjoy your blog!)

  7. Sharlee

    January 8, 2012

    On my wish list? First edition, signed copies of everything C.S. Lewis ever wrote. I’m a simple girl.

    Does Stefan’s choice of attire mean that he’s going to MIT next fall? I’m dying to know!

  8. jenjamin

    January 9, 2012

    Oh thank you thank you thank you. I am not a huge reader(sigh) At least of fiction. But I did buy Peace Like A River on Amazon. I am so hungry for learning, I tend to pick up historical books, or even collage manuals tend to be my weakness… church books, oh yes! Self help, yep those too. I struggle with fiction so it is hard to recommend anything for my kids. SO thank you. I do have a few really strong readers in my family, sadly it is not me. Maybe someday when I have a few more minutes in the day.

    ditto… the request for a favorites list from each of your family members 🙂 that would be a dream.

  9. k. novella

    January 9, 2012

    yay for books! now with kindle and nook becoming so popular it’s a fight to keep hard copies of books around! but there is nothing better than flipping the pages of an worn old loved book. forget the novice devices! love that you dedicate a day to your books. so so cool.

  10. Sarah

    January 10, 2012

    I’ve read your blog for a while and never commented. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your beautiful life with us. You make me want to go buy some books right now. What are you favorite books of all time? I always love good recommendations. Also I’d love to know how you got all your kids to practice. My oldest (9 yr old) is a very talented piano player, but the battle over practicing is killing me. I am afraid he is wearing me down. I’d hate for him to give it up. Any advice?

  11. Rachelle

    January 10, 2012

    Books have the same priority in my life as yours, one thing I adore about you.

  12. Natasha and Jesse

    January 10, 2012

    I love books too. My husband and I have three bookshelves and we’re running out of space!

    Do you have any World War II books that you would be willing to recommend? I love that time period.

  13. TheOneTrueSue

    January 11, 2012

    Our house is much the same – overrun with books and bookshelves, in the most lovely way. It makes tracking down library books every week sort of difficult, but it’s a nice problem to have. (My ultimate home deco dream would be to have a library like Belle’s, complete with rolling ladder.)

    I really believe that surrounding my kids with books is a big part of the reason why they are all such great readers. I’m a big fan of going to charity yard sales – they almost always have tables full of books. One sale allowed for “all the books you can carry” for five bucks. (I think they were surprised by how much I could carry.)

    I love these glimpses into your life and I really love your photography. I have no idea how much your services cost (I’m guessing One Trillion Dollars) but someday I would love to have you take our family pictures. Let me save up for a couple of years first 🙂

  14. Denise

    January 12, 2012


    We are avid readers and book collectors like your family, and I admit that I have spent many, many hours perusing the shelves during the Scholastic warehouse sale nearby. But, as the mother of a big family, how do you balance “fun” reading with scripture reading? Do you separate the two by reading scriptures at one time of day and recreational reading at another? Do you devote a certain amount of time to each, daily? I’m interested in your experience, as I often find myself wanting to choose whatever enticing story I’m currently into, by skimping on important study time — then staying up later than planned because I feel bad that I’ve not been as thorough as I would have liked with my scriptures. What’s your advice — since I know you and your household are very good at this juggling act?

  15. Rachel

    January 16, 2012

    Love, Love, Love, Peace Like a River! Have you read, So Brave Young and Handsome? So good! I love the loveliness of your blog thanks for sharing! I would also love more reading suggestions, I am always looking for a new book to read!!!

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