Monday, March 4, 2013

Moving Day

by Clare Langley-Hawthorne

We are moving this week into our new home in Denver so my apologies but no real blog post this week as I am up to my ears in boxes. I will be thinking of my fellow TKZer Nancy as I unpack the hoard of books that travel with me (unlike her I seem incapable of biting the bullet and undertaking a much overdue cull!). 

Before I do this, though, I have a question - how do you organize your books? 
Do you have them in alphabetical order or by genre (or both)? 
Do you shelve hardbacks and paperbacks separately or keep an author's books together (a challenge I find on most book shelves)?
Or do you adopt a 'put it anywhere it fits' approach? 

I've tried most approaches only to end up with the final 'wherever it will fit' option... So any advice for an untidy, somewhat irrational and not very organized book lover like myself?

20 comments:

  1. Having just redone my bookshelf...

    First, the books I am not quite as fond of get shoved to the back. Literally. It's a deep bookshelf so I can layer them. Then I organize between Tolkien books (by & about), children's & middle grade stories, & everything else.

    I used to do it alphabetically. Then there were a few years where they were organized by height.

    This new system seems to work the best. No unending quests for missing books.

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    1. I look forward to the time when I don't have the unending quests for lost books - hopefully now I have a chance to get the system right!

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  2. Separate your known author books and alphabetize them. Keep a section of your bookshelf available for unknown authors and categorize by genre.

    Sometimes I want to pull out a King novel, and sometimes I just want to find a Harlequin Romance that's pre-2000. :)

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    1. That's an idea though I'm always running out of room to put known authors in when I do it alphabetically - then it's a slippery slope as I add them in haphazardly!

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  3. I sort mine on the shelves by genres. In my office are science fiction/fantasy and futuristic romance. I will group all of an authors works together. In our den is my mystery collection, taking up an entire bookshelf. Historical romances are scattered around on spare shelves or in boxes. These are books I read and donate. The mysteries and scifi fantasy/futuristic are series I tend to follow and wish to keep. We also have a large collection of classics and reference books. Most of those are in the family room. My office has the writing How-To books. Cookbooks are in the family room since we have no shelves in the kitchen for this large collection.

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    1. Typically I have all my history books/references in my office grouped by period but now I have amassed a hodgepodge of other non-fiction reference material as well as all the genres of fiction. Maybe I just need to use different rooms for different kinds of books!

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    2. It's easier to separate out the genres of fiction than non-fiction categories, at least for me.

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  4. Wow-- organized and thoughtful approaches to shelving books. Mine go in chunks of general categories: fiction, self-help, writing craft books, kids books, husband's section, spiritual, etc. Maybe I need to rethink my system!

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    1. Julie, I think my problem is a lack of any real system combined with an impulsive book-buying nature!

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  5. I shelve by category. I have one shelf for writer's reference, probably 2-3 shelves jammed full of Arizona History specifically and American history in general, another couple of shelves for fitness related books or books on natural subjects (ie. dogs, etc.) and a small amount of fiction. I don't keep much paper fiction any more but I do have 2-3 boxes of Zane Grey novels and Star Trek novels packed away.

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    1. BK - The main part of my problem is that I keep almost every book (even ones I didn't really enjoy). Perhaps I need to see if there's a self help group for book hoarders! My history reference books are the only ones I usually have under control but now I've branched out beyond the Edwardian era things are getting a little out of hand - and when I see my parents house (groaning under the weight of the history books) I fear it's genetic...

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  6. Pile it anywhere it fits. What is weird is that I still know where everything is.

    I have heard of a college professor in Chicago whose home is organized according to subject matter. Fiction in the living room, biographies in the kitchen, reference in the dining room, sciences upstairs, and coffee table books in the carriage house. There is reportedly nowhere in the house to sit, as chairs, couches etc. are given over to this as well.

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    1. Sounds like my parent's house!

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    2. There's a house exactly that in Ojai, California. They kept bring books home, until the entire house is crammed with books. Right, cookbooks in the kitchen, etc. Now (ahhh, that would be 25 years ago)the place is (was?)turned into a bookstore. Outside the fence, facing the sidewalk, are the "give-away" free books on endless shelves. It's an amazing place!

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  7. My office, where I work with writers, holds all my books on craft, grammar etc. And behind closet doors are shelves I had built for my dogeared and disorganized personal journals--I wanted them hidden, even from me. No order there. But that's another post. My other office shelves fiction, alphabetical by author and
    memoir/essays/also by author. The rest of the house shelves are a jumble. One of these days. . .

    Anecdote:My sister was selling her brownstone in Georgetown. Her long, high-ceilinged living room contains a solid wall of floor to ceiling shelves, holding library-organized art history books (her field of study),literature, history, philosophy, etc. The realtor was horrified by all the books and said my sister needed to pack them up and display chotshkes. "The books will keep the house from selling," she said. When my sister balked, the realtor brought over a house "stager" who suggested my sister display the books by spine color.
    My sister fired them both. The first couple to look at her house bought it, telling her how much they loved the shelves for all their books.

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    1. When we sold our house in Australia I had to pack away a whole lot of books too...on advice from the realtors:)

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  8. I shelve books vertically, then horizontally on top of the vertically. I put paperbacks near other paperbacks, and hardbacks near other hardbacks, unless I have some paperbacks sitting on top of the hardbacks. But I never have hardbacks sitting on top of paperbacks. I mean, that would be gauche.

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  9. Glad glad to know you have standards:)

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  10. Oh I'm much like James--vertical, horizontal, and artistically diagonal when space permits.

    Also, by spine color. I kid you not. You can see what I mean here:

    http://lisaalber.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/bookshelf-porn-and-winters-little-pleasures/

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  11. When we ran a used book store inside our flea market, it was by genre first, then by height - left to right and bottom to top. Paperbacks and hardbacks mingled only when the were the exact same height. *twitch*

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