On My Bookshelf: Resources for the New Year

I think you can tell a lot about a person’s interests by what they keep on their bookshelf. If you look at my small book collection, it’s obvious that I’ve always been a library girl. I take notes as I read and then return the books, leaving plenty of open space on the shelf for the next stack of books.

On my bookshelf you’ll see the favorite paperback novels that I saved from my childhood.

You’ll notice that I favor practical books and that I’ve saved some personal-development books.

You’ll find gardening books, but a lack of cookbooks.

You’ll discover I have very talented friends who wrote some of the books that I proudly keep on my bookshelf.

Last year I read some books that are such good resources if you are wanting to simplify and organize more.

Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living by Tsh Oxenreider

The first part of Organized Simplicity is like having a life coach to ask you thought-provoking questions. The second part is like having your really organized best friend come over to help you clean out your closet. Simple Mom readers will recognize her intentional style. You’ll start the book with a revived focus and finish the book with a good house makeover.

Desperate Households by Kathy Peel

First of all, I loved the encouraging tone of this book. It gives practical solutions for common family issues, but in a relatable way, not like a tip list you’ve already heard before. It covers topics such as getting family members to pitch in with less nagging from you, reducing stress in the morning, better marriage communication, time and priority management, and even keeping your house clean (but not so clean that all the fun vanishes from your family.) In one word, this book is: refreshing.

Simplify Your Time by Marcia Ramsland

I don’t think there is anything new that can be said about how to manage time, but still I read magazine articles and books to glean some reminders about what I should be doing. What I like about Simplify Your Time is the way it is organized into 30 short chapters, each one concentrating on a practical aspect of time management. This makes it easy for me to evaluate my own time management (making lists, using a calendar, saying “no” to irrelevant things…I’m doing well at those) and focus on what I need to improve (punctuality, taking downtime). It’s good for self evaluation with direction on the next steps to take.

The Minimalist Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Year ebook by Rachel Jonat

Is buying a bunch of baby stuff supposed to make your life easier? That seems to be the common advice for new parents, but not in this guide. I contributed the Foreward for The Minimalist Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Year, and here is part of what I wrote about it:

The must-have baby lists at the stores and in the catalogs are all written by marketing teams who want to sell you something you don’t really need. Rachel Jonat wants to give you something that every family needs…more time, more money, and more space. Her advice is a welcome relief from promises that the latest and greatest baby gear will keep your baby happy and give you more sleep.

In our consumer-driven society the word “minimalist” may sound extreme, but as Rachel describes it, honestly it means “conscious consumer.” There is a lot of freedom in that, as well as time and money.

Congratulations on becoming a new parent! It is the most awe-inspiring responsibility in the world with a wonderful mix of crazy and serene. A shopping list can’t fully prepare you for it, but the common-sense advice in this guide will definitely make it easier.

One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler ebook by Tsh Oxenreider

From the book: “Sometimes it feels like simplifying is actually adding one more thing to that list, making it, ironically, another thing to stress over.” Oh my word, yes. If you need to simplify your life, but you don’t know where to start, then start here. One Bite at a Time is a rich resource; it takes all those ideas you know you should do and you’ve brainstormed about, and it gives you a blueprint to actually make them part of your life.

My ebook Simple Blogging: Less Computer Time, Better Blogging.

If you blog in your spare time like me, this book will show you how to make the most effective use of your time so you can grow your blog but still find balance. It will help you avoid blogging burnout and let the meaning and purpose in your blog remain.

This post contains affiliate links.

I’ve added some great books to your reading list. I hope you find them as helpful as I do!
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. I am always looking for new book recommendations.Thanks for being your usual inspiring self xx
    Tasmanian Minimalist´s last post…Today’s challenge Of Abundance & Blessings

  2. Denise C. says:

    Yay new books for me to read! Thanks!

  3. Encouraging and refreshing sound good, so I looked up Kathy Peel’s book in our library system–not there. But I put another of hers, The Family Manager Takes Charge, on hold–it got great reviews, too, so I’m looking forward to it.
    Abigail (aka Mamatouille)´s last post…banana-cashew smoothie

  4. Great list, Rachel. I have Tsh’s books on my list.I already read your eBook:-) and have added Kathy Peel’s book to my existing list, which is mainly focused on building my business, since that is my core goal this year. http://www.themomwrites.com/2012/01/business-books-for-work-at-home-moms.html

  5. Wow. I’m amazed at how few books you own! Your load of books is refreshing compared to mine. And a lot of the books I own don’t really reflect who I am because they were gifts or hand-me-downs that I may never read. Another thing on my list to declutter.

    Thanks for the book recommendations. I haven’t heard of Kathy Peel’s book, but it sounds like it would be a good one for me. And I’m really looking forward to reading your ebook, too!
    Elizabeth@ReadySetSimplify´s last post…5 Tips for Finishing What I Start

  6. I read and liked both of Tsh’s books last year, and I really appreciated your book! It was really helpful to read right as I was starting my blog.

    I felt like I simplified a lot in 2011 — I got rid of 92 books. But, there are still some 800 left. Sigh.

    Also, I 100% agree that you can tell a lot about people by the books on their shelves (or the lack thereof). Which is why the e-reader trend is so frustrating for a snoopy bibliophile like me!
    Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm´s last post…Review: How to Survive the Titanic

  7. Books are the HARDEST thing for me to declutter, even though I remind myself continually to let the library store books for me. I have gotten better and better at it, though, and our shelves are getting more and more spacious. Thanks for the reading list.
    Lori´s last post…Decluttering/Refreshing/Cleaning a Kitchen Cupboard

  8. I’m a library girl, too. And a librarian who is ruthless at weeding both at work and in my own library but I still own 100s of books. Thanks for the suggestions.

  9. I loved your book, Rachel – it really helped me think about how I use my time. Crazily, I also really got a lot out of the book ‘the complete idiots guide to managing your time’, which I picked up a thrift store :)

    Happy New Year!
    Amanda@EasyPeasyOrganic´s last post…The Year of Sunshine and Lemons

  10. Rachel this is so timely. I have been on a quest to simplify and organize. Thank you for the short list of go to books.

  11. We have the Olivia on your bookshelf – That’s a perfect resource for the year!!! I totally loved most of the books you recommend, but I have to take a look at Simplify Your Time.
    se7en´s last post…Se7en’s Fabulous Friday Fun #102 – A Pinterest Special…

  12. Catherine says:

    I decluttered our books last year ago and have a very similar sized collection. We live really close to our library and I like to pretend we live in a giant estate and our library is located in the north wing of property which requires walking 2 blocks. Silly I know but keeps me from thinking we need to own and manage books.

  13. Sorry, off topic – that is a lovely purse. May I ask where it is from? I also recall you saying you are fond of leather totes. Perhaps, you can share with us your (presumably minimal) purse/bag collection some time? That would be an inspiration for me. I don’t own any nice purses or bags. Just a couple of simple, cheap ones. I would love to buy one or two nice bags/purses that would serve all my needs – but I am holding back because it is just overwhelming to search for something that is beautiful, well made and will hopefully last forever that does not break the bank. I don’t care about labels, and would love not to pay the premium for a big brand name.

    • That’s the one purse that I always use. I’ve had it for about seven years, and it’s a gift from my husband. Since it’s leather it just never wears out. It’s the right size for me which is why I continue to use it even as the fashions change. It’s a Coach bag. I still keep a few of my old purses because my kids play with them.

      For tote bags I have a leather one that I bought on Ebay that was originally from Banana Republic. I have a big canvas one from Lands’ End and a smaller canvas one from LL Bean. The canvas ones are kind of amazing and durable for the price. They have some kind of surface treatment to resist dirt and they’re light to carry.

  14. Yes, I must agree with V. Great purse!

    What a lovely simple bookshelf.


  15. I LOVED “Organized Simplicity”! And I’ve read another book by Kathy Peel and am excited to try this one. I also put “Simplify Your Time” on hold at my library. Thanks!
    Catie´s last post…New Beginnings

  16. I would love to know what your all-time favorite book is. It can be as a child or adult…..or one of each please?

    • When I was a kid I enjoyed all the Ramona books. In high school I loved a Tale of Two Cities and I read that one several times. I’m kind of stumped if I try to come up with one current favorite.

  17. I should’ve added, I’ve been re-discovering my childhood love for the library since I quit my bookstore job a few months ago. I especially love checking out audio books – such a great resource!
    Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm´s last post…A Geeky Review of 2011 (and My Updated 2012 Reading Goals)

  18. vermontmommy says:

    Oh, my, this is where I need to take notes. :)

    My books shelves have not looked like that since before our first child was born. I sold what I had to our local Barnes and Noble store (they had a used book section). This was to make way so the one small bookcase that we had in the house could be used for baby stuff in our little, but lovely, condo.

    Three children later and 4 houses later We have made our dining room into a music room. We added a wall of bookcases and they are pretty full. No one would know that I purged and donated before we installed them.

    We do go to the library weekly. I keep the books for me on my desk. The ones for the kids are put on the staircase in the rungs of the railings. Our kids take return throughout the week. I don’t by as nearly much as I used to knowing I will have to purge a book for every two I buy.

    I do love having my own little library…I do. I know if I had to I could do away with most but for now I don’t have to and I will enjoy them very much.

  19. Thanks for the shout out, Rachel :) I was thrilled to have you write the forward for my book.

    52 Bites is a great resource to start 2012 with. The projects for creating routines were very helpful to me this fall.
    Rachel @ the minimalist mom´s last post…Using Facebook for Good (not Evil)

  20. I have limited space in my apartment so I own very few books. I take most of my books out of the library and after finishing each book I write a review. The reviews are hand written (I am a bit old school that way) in notebooks. This way, I sort of have a piece of the book with me but it’s not taking up space.

    Slackerjo´s last post…Tech Support Demystified

  21. Wonderful list. I just downloaded Tsh’s book yesterday…my second ebook, yours being the first. :) And while I’m at it, I think I need to add The Minimalist Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Year to my files as well. I already have my first but think it would be quite suitable when I have my second. I would love to live with less in the baby-goods department!
    Nicole´s last post…Happy New Year!

  22. I first read Simplify Your Time a few years ago after finding it on clearance at our local bookstore. I was considering reading it again soon, so your recommendation just confirms I will. I read Organized Simplicity a couple of months ago and just started 52 Bites as an ebook for the new year. I felt it was the perfect follow up. I will checkout Kathy Peel’s book soon, thanks for the list!
    Tammy´s last post…3 in 30 Week 1 Update

  23. I am going to order Organized Simplicity on Amazon as my son and daughter in law gave me a gift card for Christmas so thank you for a wonderful suggestion. I also love Elaine St. James’ books on simplifying, they’re small, very light and easy reading and have been around for several years. I just noticed one of them is currently on the bargain book table at Barnes & Noble. I find these types of books so wonderfully helpful and ones you can go back through over and over to help keep you inspired and motivated. I’ll definitely check out the others as well, thanks for all the good suggestions!

  24. I’m reading your ebook right now, and I don’t know how I missed it when you released it! Either way, I NEED YOUR BOOK NOW and I’m loving it. Thank you!
    Kacie´s last post…Do you calculate your net worth?

  25. I love libraries! That was one of the deciding factors when we bought our house: it’s a block away!!
    But: no cookbooks? Why no cookbooks?
    Margo´s last post…Breakfast Pizza Like You’ve Never Seen It Before

    • I don’t use cookbooks usually because my family doesn’t eat wheat or dairy, so most normal recipes are out. I find most of our recipes on the internet.

  26. Thank you for the links, both hard copy and ebooks. I recently downloaded your ebook, Simple Blogging, and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I particularly like your direct, conversational style. I think I’ll look up Tsh’s books next.
    Kim @ Extra Organized´s last post…Today’s organizing bliss

  27. One day my bookcases will look like yours. A select few.

    For now, I am taking giant steps in reducing the books I am never going to read again. But have held onto quite a few I can’t bear to part with. Those I gave away live within walking distance at our local library. So when I get the urge to visit them, I can just walk over there.
    Donna´s last post…Starting The New Year With Black and White and Stripes

  28. Thank you for this!! I was just Googling this topic last week, looking for good reading recommendations and it was so hard to come up with much. I have a few to add to my reading list now.

  29. I have to say that books are my very favorite thing to collect and own. I love to have them, lend them, and keep them to lend again!
    Jess´s last post…the not-so favorite

  30. I find it so so difficult to edit my bookshelves. I love picture books with beautiful illustrations and even though my children are older, I can’t part with them.

    I also like your purse. It’s so small! How do you fit everything you need into it? Do you have a billfold in it?

  31. I’m a library girl too! I always want to borrow a book first before I decide if it’s “bookshelf worthy.” I don’t own many books, but the ones I do are books that I can read again and again. Thanks for the recommendations.

    I’ve read your “Simple Blogging” ebook several times, and it truly saved me from a bad case of burnout. I wouldn’t still be blogging without it. I also love “One Bite at a Time.” It’s nice to be reminded that I don’t have to be perfect.
    Sage´s last post…5 Situations Where “Good Enough” Is Enough

  32. I think it’s funny when people come over and look at the two bookshelves in our family room and remark on how many books we have, because that’s only the start. Thanks to a downstairs rec room that has now become my husband’s office, we have seven more bookshelves down there. I like to buy books, though I frequent the library as much as possible to figure out what I like first. There’s just something about holding a book in your hand that you are allowed to mark up/underline/write comments in that makes it your own – at least that’s the way my husband and I see it. Even with Kindles being so affordable, we just can’t bring ourselves to buy one yet – we love hard copies.

  33. I can organise and minimise with most things but I could never do that with my books. I am considering a kindle fire when they come out over here which would make my life a lot easier but I like the feel of paper beneath my fingers when I read…

  34. I love books and can’t bring myself to buy a kindle, I love the feel of them in your hand when your reading and I love the look of them on bookshelves. When we bought our current house, we turned a formal dining room (we would never use it) into a library and love it, I am now in the process of looking for comfy chairs to sit in while reading. The family all have books in them, as well the kids have bookcases in their rooms that are full. I know we should pair down, but I love rereading books and hope one day the kids will read them as well. Maybe some day. Love your blog.

  35. My husband used to tease that he could tell what area of my life was bugging me at that point by what books I had on my nightstand!
    I also love time management books, may have to check into Simplify Your Time!
    Living the Balanced Life´s last post…9 posts for the overwhelmed and overworked

  36. It’s funny, but I’m reading thru your selections and I get to your ‘Simple Blogging: Less Computer Time, Better Blogging.’

    It’s funny because today our Internet was down for an extended period of time and I was amazed at how much writing I got done without the distractions!

    Dee@ Small House Life´s last post…Kick the Excuses and Get Organized

  37. I must admit, I am more like the library than a library girl, I love books, love having them at my.finger tips. But I have weeded out ones that I have read, mostly fiction. I have both your book and Tsh’s book, planning on simplifying this year. The children are all grown and married and we have a house full of 20 years of stuff. We are a storage place for our son who is in Singapore… I will try to simplify around his things :-)

    Thanks for the post!