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How to pack books (and avoid a trip to the chiropractor)

How to pack books

I don't know what it is about humans and hoarding, but if there is more than one of something, you can bet that one or more of us collects it. No one is immune. For me, it's books and it's a compulsion. In the interest of being well-balanced, I regularly go through the rest of my house and clean out anything that is old or unused, but the books...well, the books stay. And multiply. Little book babies just lining up on my inadequate shelving space.

All of this to say, after moving nine times since I graduated from high school, I have become adept at moving books from place to place. I didn't get it all right the first few times because, "I should probably have a game plan for moving 700+ books," didn't even cross my mind. In fact, it wasn't until I was four or five moves in and I realized I was as likely to walk outside and pick up a garbage truck as I was to lift even the smallest box of books I had packed that I began to rethink my method. Which brings us to our first point:

 

Tip #1: Books are not surrogate Tetris pieces.

Too many books in a boxIt's understandable, really. They're rectangular, easily stacked, and they elicit such satisfaction when the perfectly-sized book fits into the perfectly-sized space, but resist. RESIST, I say. In other Storage Master articles, we talk about leaving no empty space behind, but that most certainly does not apply to books. A box expertly packed with books is a box that only an elephant could lift. A hand truck is a necessity when moving, but the fewer items require it, the faster the move will go. If you really must keep your books together when you move, leave lots of empty space. I'd suggest stacking around the outside of the box, varying the ways you're putting the books in, not unlike a more knowledgable version of Jenga. However, there is a better way:

 

Tip #2: Divide and conquer.

I'm a little OCD when it comes to my personal library, but I learned to brush it off to be a better mover. I want to keep all of my books together while I move, but I'm convinced that doing so as a young adult is the cause of my monthly visits to the chiropractor as a not-so-young-but-still-pretty-much young adult. Looking back, this tip seems so obvious that I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I had to actually learn it. Still, if even one person benefits from my pain, *sniff*, I suppose it was worth it. Nope. Lies.

If you're going to need quick access to your books in your new place, pick out the boxes you'll be unpacking first. For me, those are my office and kitchen boxes (gotta work to eat, gotta eat to work, tell ya' all about it when I got the time), so those are the boxes whose space is subsidized by books. That way, I know that my books won't be languishing inside a box that won't be unpacked for months and months (like the box of sports and exercise equipment--HA, no). Conversely, if you don't need immediate access to your books or they're going to be in storage (climate controlled!), then pack them in with whatever boxes you've got. The more you use, the lighter the load. And while the books are sharing living space with other species, you can always:

 

Tip #3: USE your books to make moving easier.

The last time I moved, the majority of my moving boxes were stolen from Costco, which means that a number of them had that huge rectangular hole in the bottom. Why doesn't fruit need a bottom on its shipping boxes? Anyway, I quickly learned that I could layer a couple of books on the bottom and solve that little problem. When I needed to make sure a box didn't cave in on my prized electric gas plasma sculpture? Bam. Hardback books as structural reinforcement. Use them to fill in gaps so that items don't shift or to separate things that shouldn't touch.

I'm getting a little excited just thinking about it. Organization is such a rush. So, that's it. If you or someone you love has a book problem, it doesn't have to break your back to move it around. Tune in next week when we'll talk about how to move other hoarder collections: old newspapers, Precious Moments Figurines, and small animals.