Have you ever heard of a book-mas tree? Also known as a Christmas book tree. Well, it’s essentially a tree made of books that you decorate with lights and other ornaments for the holidays. Sounds great, right?

I love books, obviously. I wrote one! A young adult, fantasy novel called The Travelers, which just came out in October. (Holiday note: Part of the proceeds for holiday sales will go to a reading-related charity!)

Therefore, I decided this year our family would make a book-mas tree. Here’s how it went, step-by-step, if you’d like to replicate our experience. Although you may want to read the how-to before trying it yourself…

Step 1: Clean out your bookshelves. Gather your books all in one place. (It’s best if it’s the place where you plan to put the book-mas tree). Stack everything on the floor in random piles.

Step 2: Make sure you have a lot of Thomas Pynchon, Shakespeare and Jane Austin anthologies, and Russian classics to serve as your base. Also, sacrifice your Twilight novels to the book-mas tree. (You’ll get them back later). But they are so thick they’re needed for this!

Step 3: Realize that you really obsessed over certain authors at points in your reading history.

Step 4: Rediscover books that changed your life. (My government teacher, Mr. Bernard, gave me Marilyn French’s The War Against Women my senior year of high school. The book and Mr. Bernard really changed my life. Teachers are amazing people.)

Step 5: Obsess over needing to sort your books by category, even though you should be sorting them by size. But you think you can somehow do both. (If you want to skip this step, I’ll give you a hint – you can’t.)

Step 6: Find favorite books you thought you’d lost forever. Discover books you didn’t realize you had.

Step 7: Realize that organizing by genre and author won’t work. Instead, reorganize (or attempt to reorganize) by size and thickness.

TIP: Keep a lot of thin books around so you can fill in the gaps when books are different thicknesses. It makes for a steadier tree.

Step 8: Start the base of the tree using the largest, thickest books, especially hard covers. (Make sure everything is the same thickness or else it will be uneven.) Put a base of something in the middle for the books to push up against for stability.

Step 9: Continue to make layers one at a time based on book thickness. If you’re a perfectionist, over-obsess and constantly swap out books so that it takes a ridiculous amount of time to make one layer and seriously annoys your 11-year-old daughter.

TIP: If you have a child who loves Harry Potter, don’t even suggest using those books. The child will agree and then later decide it’s not OK that her Harry Potter books have to be smooshed by other “lesser” books. This will require a Jenga-type maneuver to remove said Harry Potter book from the base of the growing tree and risk toppling it over.20161203_163429

Step 10: Shove blankets, scarves and sheets under the layers so they don’t cave inward.

Step 11: Fail miserably at first attempt because you based it on the internet, which said to put the books around a base in the middle, which seems like a good idea at the time, but does not work out AT ALL.

Step 12: Get frustrated and annoyed. Deconstruct your book-mas tree.

Step 13: Start over, getting rid of the central structure and make each “level” a circle of books that are all the same thickness.

20161203_172101Step 14: Continue to stack, making a circle of books slightly smaller than the last layer. Be sure to stack the books on each level so they cross two books because the internet says this will be good for stability. (But the internet also said to put a base in the middle, so you’re suspicious of the internet.)

Step 15: Get angry at the book-mas tree for being difficult and taking so long. Take a break for the night, but make a little path to the window so the dog can get by and get to her favorite spot where she looks out the window and barks at other dogs.

20161203_194332Step 16: Go to dinner. Come home to a really nice fire and watch reruns of Buffy. Put off finishing the tree for another day….

Stay tuned for another blog to see if we can turn this failure into something cool or if it continues to fail terribly! (Failure’s a learning experience. It good for you, right? Right???)