Monday, November 19, 2007

I have books! And now I have books in order!

I keep most of the books I use all the time in the place where I do most of my work (home office, 3 1/2 bookcases), but after a while they multiply and start to double up on the shelves. I have other bookcases in other rooms, but so far they have defied any sense of order.

My attempts to organize them would go like this. I would pick up a book, or several, and then realize that I had Big Decisions to make:
1. Shelve British and American and other lit works together?
2. Shelve criticism with the books or by itself?
3. Shelve books according to interest and taste or alphabetically? For example, do I group about ten of them together because they are in the category "obscure women's autobiographies that I really, really want to read some day" and I will otherwise forget about/lose them if they're in the alphabetical section?

You can guess the next step: I pull a book off a shelf, and, while pondering the imponderable, I sit on the floor and start leafing through it, leaving heaps of strewn books that I'll eventually shove into any old shelf just to get them off the floor.

But today, faced with the prospect of Thanksgiving company, I worked on putting books on shelves where I might have a chance of finding them again. There are still lots of them in heaps on the floor, but hey, the night is young and the people coming for Thanksgiving won't be here for another couple of days.


Sisyphus said...

I love books! Everything about them!

I just shelve by size and color, since I'm OCD like that. I do separate out the books I haven't read from the read ones though.

Oh, and big books/anthologies go on the lower shelves to weight the bookcases --- earthquakes, you know!

undine said...

Sisyphus, I hadn't thought of separating read books from unread ones, but I put the anthologies at the bottom to give weight, too, thanks to W.W. Norton.

ArticulateDad said...

Years ago, I decided I wasn't a librarian (though I love to have my books in order). So, I took to jotting the Library of Congress codes in pencil on the first page of the books, and simply shelving them as the LOC does (and guessing for those which don't appear on

But we've taken to purging as well. I'd say we've given away or donated over 1000 books in the past five years. The latest purge occurred last week with about 150 going to the library. Those books sat (like yours) in heaps on the floor for several days, until we loaded them into the van.

undine said...

That's a good idea, articulatedad. I'm sort of following the LOC system but haven't gone to the trouble of putting the codes in the books.

It was nice today, though, to go to the bookshelves and find exactly what I wanted as a result of all that sorting.