Thursday, August 16, 2007

Shelves of Glory

After looking at this and this, I've been thinking a lot about how I organize my books. Or, rather, how I don't organize my books.

You'd think that somebody as list-happy as I am would have an organized bookshelf, but for whatever reason, I'm pretty much about the Shelves of Anarchy. It kind of bothers me--list-happy, remember? Maybe I should decide on something and do it. There's alphabetical, which actually doesn't sound so bad, but it's kind of boring. Some people organize by color, which actually appeals to me, except that it makes me think of my Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, which are green, purple, orange, and yellow, respectively. I can't separate them; they're a series! And the by-color scheme seems pretty rigid. Anything mis-filed or granted an exception is going to be pretty obvious, and we can't have that! Some people put books together whose authors they believe should be friends, but that comes across as a whole lot of speculation (though potentially entertaining). I've also given some thought to the John-Cusack-in-High-Fidelity model, organizing autobiographically (starting, I suppose, with the copy of The Sneetches I got for my fourth birthday and ending with my new Portable Dorothy Parker?). I would love to be able to pull that off. I'm just not sure it would work. It certainly wouldn't be low-maintenance (which is actually kind of cool--an ever-shifting reflection of life, right there on my bookcase!).

I guess I do have some organizational guidelines. For as long as I can remember, the bottom shelf of my big bookcase has been reserved for the books that won't fit anywhere else: my (sizable) horse-book collection, my Calvin and Hobbes, anything by Dr. Seuss (The Sneetches, again), and the reference section. For awhile I had a "girly classics" shelf, where I kept my Jane Austen books, my Charlotte Brontes, my Louisa May Alcotts, and the like. (L.M. Montgomery would go there, but she has her own spot on top of the bookcase.) But those are all organizational whims more than systems, attempts at keeping things clean or making the books more sociable. In reality, I use the "I moved recently and might move again at any moment" scheme, which is not a scheme at all.

Coming soon: Photos of the shelves in all their freewheeling glory!


Dogeared said...

I recently had this debate with my DVDs. By colour? By alphabetical title? Genre? Main actor? Degree of enjoyment?

I've got two bookcases, but I lose the bottom 2 shelves, due to my bed being right up against the bookcases. So I've now got it as this:

Bookcase 1
Top of bookcase - Dictinaries, box film DVDs (like the collector's edition), exercise DVDs
Top shelf - favourite DVD TV show boxsets
Second shelf - more DVD TV show boxsets, the slightly less favourites
Third shelf - books yet to read (stacked on their sides and double stacked to get more on!)

Bookcase 2
Top of boockase - books to give away on
Top shelf - film DVDs yet to watch
Second shelf - film DVDs I really like (in rough genres) (the less favourites of each genre on standup racks)
Third shelf - favourite read books, English Harry Potter, Italian Harry Potter.

Liz said...

Hee! I love your system. You organize by level of affection (which actually isn't such a bad idea).

Don't even get me started on my DVDs. I have an organizational scheme for those: chick flicks on the right, non-chick flicks on the left, with musicals in the middle. TV shows are below (Gilmore Girls, Alias, Firefly, The Office, Bones. In that order. Next to my very last VHS tapes.)