Friends, here is my first blog post written on my couch… because I finally got a new computer with actual functioning wireless! Hooray! Plus, now the world can Skype with my cat. Ah, the internet.
I’ve been thinking lately about rearranging my books, a perennial joy of the bibliophile. Right now they are arranged somewhat randomly, but there is some meaning. All the books by each author are, of course, together. I mostly own fiction, but also some nonfiction. The nonfiction is growing, but not as fast as the fiction. Nothing is alphabetized. (#2: GASP! There may be dust over everything and clutter on the floor but my books and spices are alphabetized!) All the cartoon books are together; these and other works that cheer or comfort me are kept near my bed for easy access in times of stress, books being excellent for mood regulation. Other books are distributed across shelves and rooms with little rhyme or reason, other than a few outposts of nonfiction on the edges of the fiction shelves.
I would like to have a few “subject” areas, such as keeping all my books about writing together. But shouldn’t the how-to writing manuals stay shelved with the fiction that author wrote and for whom I originally loved her or him? Hmmm. I would have a section for animal books (such as Tell Me Where It Hurts and All Creatures Great and Small) and a section for books about books and reading. I would like to keep all my graphic novels together, perhaps, but what of authors who have both graphic and regular text novels? Perhaps the graphic novels will remain spread out.
A lot of memoirs and other non-fiction is stuff I keep because it reads as quickly and easily as fiction (they call it “narrative nonfiction” these days, or “creative nonfiction”). Those things I wouldn’t want to separate from the fiction; in my mind they serve the same purpose as fiction, which is amusement. They beguile me to pass the time. These types of books that I read purely for pleasure are distinguished from what I think of as “work” books, which may or may not also be interesting and enjoyable but which I read mainly for work purposes. Lately I’ve been thinking I want to segregate these from the rest of my books, on a separate shelf perhaps, and integrate the rest of the narrative nonfiction with the fiction (which is partially the case now). It would be cool to be able to browse all the “fun” books at once, whether fiction or non-, and to keep the books that remind me of my job off to the side where I won’t accidentally stumble on them and think about my job when I am trying to relax.
Any organizational scheme must allow for uneven expansion, which is why alphabetization has failed me so far. I refuse to put books in an order such that it’s hard to add one new one without having to move all the others (and I don’t have that much expansion room to spare). Right now I just know where each book is, but as the collection grows that becomes probably less possible — I haven’t found the limit yet, though. (#2 doesn’t mind moving books for expansion, her OCD actually enjoys it, but also has temporary solutions by having very tall spaces between shelves, so as things get added they can lay flat on top of the other books. When there’s no more room, she buys another bookcase.)
If you have time, you can read the classic On Books and the Housing of Them, by former Prime Minister and noted bibliophile William Gladstone. Realistically, I probably won’t do anything except look at pictures of other people’s bookshelves and drool.
#2 says, *DROOL* So not all of the books in my house are alphabetized. The children’s books are sorted by reading level and only partially alphabetized starting with the chapter books. The non-fiction (except cookbooks) is mixed in with fiction hardbacks and only partially alphabetized because they’re in the living room and sorted first by hardback/large paperback and then by subject so that they look pretty. One day I may re-tackle that.
What’s your organizational schema?