1. How to easily remove stickers from books
There are few things worse than getting home from the bookstore, all excited that you got NEW BOOKS, or maybe NEW USED BOOKS, but either way they’re NEW, and YOU JUST GOT THEM and….that stupid sticker won’t come off!
Ugh, I hate it. I have so much appreciation for any bookstores who have joined us in this century and manage to use easily removable stickers. Seriously, any bookstores on this boat, THANK YOU. But sadly, it doesn’t apply to everyone. So if you’ve got an ugly, stupid sticker stuck on your book cover, I have a tried and true method that helps me every time, and you probably already have it in your house:
Yes, Windex. It’s useful for more than just streak-free windows.
Try soaking a paper towel in Windex, holding it over the sticker for a few seconds, and then rolling the Windex-dampened sticker from the edges. It should come off much more easily. Hold the Windex-soaked paper towel over the sticker longer for more stubborn stickers—just be sure not to spray it directly on the book, because we all know moisture + pages = bad news bears.
2. Bring your own bag
When it comes to shopping for books, one of the best tips a bookworm can remember is to bring your own bag. It’s always a good idea to fold up a tote bag (or two or three, I don’t know how many books you plan on buying!) and tuck them in your purse, car, pocket, wherever, and take them along with you on a trip to the bookstore. Not only is it much more environmentally friendly than plastic bags, but it’s also probably much sturdier. Let’s face it, those plastic bags can be flimsy as all heck, and the last thing you need is for the bottom to rip out and all your books fall on the floor, the ground, the mud…ugh the possibilities are endless, and none of them are good. Plus, if you are walking around a city, a mall, or a shopping complex, the thin handles on those plastic bags are going to get mighty uncomfortable once the bag is laden down with a bunch of heavy books. Better to have a good canvas tote bag with some thick handles to help you out.
The other upside is there are tons of super cute bookish totes available from places like Book Riot, Etsy, and Society6, so not only will you make it easier to carry your books, but you can also express your personality and your love of reading as you walk around with your newfound treasures.
3. Look for books everywhere
One of the best things about books is that you can find them in so many places! Sometimes my husband is amazed that I manage to come home with more books when I was supposed to be getting something completely unrelated, but a good bookworm can always sniff ‘em out. (Seriously, it’s like our smelling ability rewires itself to be more sensitive to that paper-ink-glue combination.) So tip number three is don’t forget to look everywhere for books! Aside from shopping for books in the bookstore, you can find them in Walmart, Target, grocery stores, drugstores, thrift stores, antique stores, flea markets (my mom almost exclusively buys books from flea markets), yard sales, dollar stores, gift shops…you name it, it’s a place a bookworm can sniff out some books. Keep your eyes peeled and your mind open. Oftentimes, you can find books you wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere if you’re willing to look outside of Barnes & Noble and the library. For example, museum gift shops often have a lot of local history books, historical biographies, and other educational texts you might not find somewhere else. Thrift stores and antique stores can be a great place to find vintage books and rare editions.
Looking for books everywhere can also make otherwise mundane outings a little more interesting. Parents drag you along for a Walmart trip you had no interest in? Check out the books. Picking up a prescription at Target or CVS? Meander by the book aisle on the way. Forced to be a grown up and go buy food? You guessed it…stop by the grocery store’s book aisle.
4. Always carry a book
Okay, to be honest, you probably already know this one, but it’s worth mentioning anyway. Make sure you always have a book on you. There are way too many moments in life where you end up sitting somewhere and waiting. Or standing somewhere and waiting. Or just waiting. Life, you will come to learn, is a whole lot of “hurry up and wait”. But whether you’re on the subway commuting to work or sitting in the waiting area of a doctor’s office, it can all be made a little more bearable if you have something to read. Plus, you won’t be wasting those hours of your day. You’ll actually be using them to do one of your favorite things—read! And trust me, the day you end up waiting somewhere for something and you didn’t bring a book with you, you will kick yourself.
Note that in this scenario, books can always be substituted with whatever form of e-reader you favor, so long as you have a way to read while you’re stuck wherever you are.
5. The proper way to pack books
Okay, listen closely, because this one is going to save you a lot of back pain and misery later on. You may think this seems like common sense, or maybe you already know this one, but the first time I moved, I didn’t, and holy hell were my back and arms and legs angry.
Believe it or not, there is actually a good way to pack books. Rule of thumb is to only pack your box HALF full of books (preferably the bottom half), then fill the top half of the box with light things—towels, sheets, throw pillows, maybe some tchotchke, whatever you have that’s light. This may result in having to carry some things from room to room when you’re unpacking, but when you’re lugging those suckers out of the back of the U-Haul, you will be glad you didn’t fill them from bottom to top with heavy books. And if you have movers carrying your boxes for you (lucky), they will be grateful, as well. Yes, moving heavy boxes is their job, but movers get back pain, too.
Other moving tips for books: wrap very old or antique books individually in wrapping paper (not the Christmas kind, the moving kind—can be purchased at U-Haul stores, probably also Wal-Mart, sometimes office supply stores) to protect them from jostling around inside the box and getting damaged. If books are super fragile (like, need to wear gloves when being handled fragile), consider wrapping them up and tucking them in your suitcase.
6. Ask for books as gifts
Want all the books in the world but only have four dollars? SAME. One hack to circumvent this is to ask for books as gifts from your friends and loved ones. Now I’m not saying go around randomly asking people in your life to buy you books, but when it’s nearing your birthday or the winter holidays and someone in your family (as they inevitably do) says, “What do you want for Christmas?” or “What do you want for your birthday this year?”, feel free to tell them you want books! Or, if they don’t know your reading preferences, gift cards for bookstores! So you can use them to buy books! This way, your loved ones don’t have to stress over, “OMG what should I get her, will she like it, is this something she is into?” because they know you love books, and you don’t have to stress over, “OMG how am I going to buy that new release by Cassandra Clare when I literally have ten dollars and still have to get groceries and holiday gifts for my entire family?!” because you could receive it as a present!
7. Books also make great gifts for others
Seriously, unless the person absolutely hates reading (which like, what?) this is basically foolproof. If the person is a bookworm like you, they will definitely appreciate getting reading material as a gift. Money is usually tight around the holidays so people don’t always have extra to spend on themselves, so it could be great for them to get the books they’ve been eyeing but waiting to purchase. Plus, books are one of the easiest gifts to tailor to an individual! Even if you’re not sure exactly what the person likes to read, you can usually figure it out based on their interests. Sister-in-law a horror movie buff? Maybe try The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares, Horrorstor, or The Merciless. Co-worker an aspiring writer? How about On Writing by Stephen King? I think you see where I’m going with this. You don’t have to know everything about a person to be able to figure out what they like and tailor a bookish gift to their tastes! Plus, you can never have enough books, right?
8. Don’t forget to check estate sales
This one might creep some people out, but bear with me. Estates sales are actually a great place to get a lot of books for not a lot of money. Some people I’ve mentioned this to say things like, “Doesn’t it creep you out knowing you’re getting a dead person’s books?” Well, no. For several reasons. For one, when I die, the best thing I can hope to happen to my books is that they go to someone who loves books as much as I do. And two, whenever you’re purchasing books at a used bookstore, thrift store, consignment shop, etc., those could also be “a dead person’s books”. It’s just less obvious.
I came across an estate sale once where the deceased woman’s family agreed to let go of a ton of books at no charge because they were going to throw her books away if no one took them. THROW THEM AWAY. LIKE IN THE GARBAGE. I mean can you even???? I was more than happy to take them off their hands, prevent them from ending up at the bottom of a crusty dumpster somewhere, and I got an entire set of 22 collected works books published by Walter J. Black Co. in the process, including the collected works of Oscar Wilde, William Shakespeare, Gustave Flaubert, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. For free.
So, you know. Keep an open mind.
9. Use social media to find like-minded individuals
Reading is an inherently solo activity, which, to be fair, is what many of us love about it. But sometimes we need people to freak out with about books. If you’re like me and don’t actually have a lot of friends that you know in person who love reading as much as you do, all hope is not lost. There are lots of social media outlets you can use to find people who love books as much as you do, or are reading the same books as you, or want to talk/cry/laugh about books like you do. Try connecting with the bookish community on Instagram or Twitter (two places you can connect with me personally!), or try Reddit or Tumblr. Or you can use the site/app designed specifically for this reason, which is Goodreads, a great place to get book recommendations, reviews, ideas from friends, and meet (digitally) people like you.
10. Think outside the box to find new things to read
Do you know anyone who walks into a bookstore and just stares at all the spines of the books hoping something will jump out them? That method may work a lot of the time, and I’ve found plenty of good books in exactly that way (including one of my favorites, Zombie by J.R. Angelella–read more about it here–which I literally picked up because the cover was bright orange and looked a bit like a ransom note, and I ended up loving, or the short story collection Boys and Girls Like You and Me by Aryn Kyle, which I was drawn to because it looked like a swimming pool, and also ended up being awesome). But if this method isn’t your cup of tea, try thinking outside the box. You can find new books that you might not have otherwise picked up through subscription boxes, like OwlCrate or Book of the Month (or many, many others!), through purchasing “Blind Date With a Book” books (books that come wrapped in paper so you can’t tell what they are—a favorite of lots of indie bookstores and adventurous buyers), or even through just asking a friend for a book recommendation and then reading the exact book they recommend, whether or not it’s the type of thing you usually go for.
You can even find new favorites just by going a little bit outside your comfort zone at the bookstore or library, and seeing what there is to see (and, again, keeping an open mind!). Do you usually read exclusively YA fantasy? Maybe try checking out the adult contemporary fiction. Mostly a graphic novel buff? Perhaps you find yourself in the historical fiction area one day. Seriously, you might surprise yourself! Some of my favorite books come from sections I don’t usually frequent, and it’s never good to get into a reading rut (which can burn you out, and reading burn out can lead to not reading at all, and not reading at all is just no fun).
So, what were your thoughts on these ten bookish hacks (or tips/general suggestions, whatever you want to call them)? Do you have any tried and true bookish hacks of your own? Let me know in the comments below! You know I’d love to talk. <3