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How do you shelve your books?

Just read this lovely - and I have to say inspiring - article on the issue of how we shelve our books:

My books are haphazard, which I hate and which means I can never find friends have in the past been cruel about my alphabetising of my bookshelves, and I then decided to group books that were similar - authors who I felt were in the 'if you liked this, you might like this' category.  And at the moment the books are all just shoved on the shelf as they came to hand when I unpacked a few years ago.  But I love the system that the author of this article uses - think it's time to organise my bookshelves!

Though if, as looks likely, I will have to give up my flat and move in with sister or father, I'll probably just have to get rid of them all anyway.

I love that, Evie. As a retired librarian, I ought to be able to say that my books are in strict Dewey order and catalogued according to Anglo-American rules. After all, I could entertain you for hours with the wisdom of Ranganathan and the nuances of Colon classification! Sadly, the truth is that my books are shelved wherever I can find space for them. I rely upon a sort of radar to guide me to the right bookshelf. Unfortunately, this system is far from perfect, so I very often go to a corner of the dining room where 15 years ago there was indeed a large bookcase, but alas, no more. I am then faced with having to puzzle out where the books that once were there were moved to. I do usually manage to track down the desired volume - unless, of course it has been stolen by an evil daughter, when my search has to be extended to another house!

I hope you will be able to find somewhere to live that does not involve parting from beloved books. It is such a comfort to know that they are at hand, even if they have not been read for a long time.

Well, my other plan is to open a not-for-profit secondhand bookshop, so if that does come off, my own books will probably form a significant part of the initial stock!

But if I can find a job in the next three months, I should be able to stay in my flat - in the meantime I need to use all my free time better and do a lot more reading than I am currently doing!  Or rearrange the books on my shelves...   Smile

That was a funny story. I recognised the part where she arranges the books and her husband asks her where he can find it. Pretty much like in our house.
My shelving system is not too strict. I try to keep shelves limited to one type of fiction or non-fiction but some shelves are a bit of an eclectic mix. The only shelves ordered. a-z per author are the three for classic fiction.
For the rest Iím not too bothered as long as I can find what Iím looking for in a reasonable time.

chris-l wrote:

I hope you will be able to find somewhere to live that does not involve parting from beloved books. It is such a comfort to know that they are at hand, even if they have not been read for a long time.

I totally agree with chris-l and I hope you'll be able to keep your books one way or another, Evie.


Thanks - though I am more concerned about keeping my flat!  If I had £200,000, there is a wonderful house with a retail bit at the bottom (for my bookshop), two floors of living accommodation and a garden...would be perfect!  Sigh.

I'm slightly surprised by how unworried I am at the thought I might have to get rid of, or at least pack away, my books...  I do love them, but also happy to use the library as much as possible, and while I would absolutely hate not to have them around, I could live with it.  Surprising!

That was quite lovely, but how time consuming (and how much knowledge you would need about authors) to worry about who to put next to each other!

The problem in our house isn't the shelved books, which have some vague order - NZ non-fiction on one shelf, and various reference books on the others.  But mostly our books are now (finally at least inside!) in boxes which I have organised into such categories as classic 19th C fiction, classic modern fiction, non-fiction, non-fiction reference, (more) NZ non-fiction, frime fiction, light fiction, children's fiction.  One box for Georgette Heyers and one for Harry Potters and Terry Pratchetts, books on personal subjects (ie family history, astrology etc).  Things have rather stalled with various books which don't quite fit.

I don't have a punishment place, but do sometimes take a Jeffery Archer from the library or book sales and put him well out of sight of anyone, similarly if the library seems to have a Dan Brown book too obviously showing, I stick him backwards.  But such authors don't live in my house, so don't have to be catered for here.  

In our previous house we had Buddenbrooks, and despite much searching and now reorganizing it still hasn't turned up here.

I meant to ask, too, Evie, about your job?  Do you have no job at all at the moment?  I seemed to be under the impression you had two different types of work, but may have that quite wrong.  How worrying for you if you are without work.  Good lulck with it, and with your flat and books.  

My son and wife are in Britain looking for work in their respective areas - he is an architect, she has social work registration - but not having much luck yet.  May have to look for more generic type work.  He's a brilliant kitchen-hand!  Though it is bad for his skin.

I do have a little bit of work, about 12 hours a week - I earn about half what I pay in rent, so I am not entirely without income, but can't sustain things much longer -  I have been using my savings to pay my way, but those have almost run out.  I do have two jobs - a steady but very part-time job at the university library, and intermittent work with online art history courses at Oxford University, for which I get fees for specific work done rather than a salary, so it's a bit unpredictable - but jolly useful, and good work.

I lost my two main jobs about a year ago, but both gave me a pay-off - I had hoped that by the time those pay-offs ran out I would have found another job, but I didn't.  It's a bit worrying as I have nothing for the future - don't own my home, no pension beyond state pension, and now no savings, so I need to turn things around soon, as time is against me!

So I am increasingly grateful for the local library - it's utter rubbish, but I can order things for 50p, which is a lot cheaper than buying books!   Cool

I have so many books that I am frequently unable to find volumes that I KNOW I possess.  Anyone who has been to this house will have noticed the bibliochaos.  However, I have the small bedroom - without a bed in it - devoted entirely to a large collection of books about the theatre.  My Folio Society collection - about 800 vols - are all more or less together but not in alphabetical order similarly books about Shakespeare.  I make some feeble efforts to put books by a single author or a single topic together (Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy, Walter Scott (50 vols), Dickens, Trollope 48 vols, ghost stories, Limited Editions Club vols, books illustrated by Edward Ardizzone.  
But my large collection of plays is in alphabetical order.
Otherwise - disorder.

Sounds fabulous, Mike!

Evie that house plus retail space sounds like heaven. I'm sending positive thoughts your way for something good to turn up. If only wishes could be turned into cash. Sad

I know!  thanks, though.  I'd rather have friends than cash!   Smile

Evie, I am sure you will never want for friends! Like County Lady, I wish there was a way all that friendship and goodwill could be translated into something more tangible.

Thank you, Chris! It's been a hideous year generally, with serious family issues as well, so I am just trying to be philosophical - and certainly very grateful for friends, both real and virtual (who seem very real!).
Green Jay

Yes, Evie, good thoughts winging your way.  Smile

Thanks - I am sure things will work out!  Sorry to monopolise the thread with personal stuff - it is just all related to my books in some way!  I have come to realise that the bookshop idea is less viable than intially thought, though, because of a distinct lack of capital or my books may be mine for a bit longer!   Very Happy

And I will think of an imaginative but practical way of organising them on the shelves, going back to the original article, which I still love.

I think we have discussed something like this before.  I used to have all my books in alphabetical order (by the authors surname) and one shelf was dedicated to my non-fiction and the other to fiction but as I have got more I have long since given up on that and just shove them where they will fit!

We have discussed it before, I just found the article entertaining, and was too lazy to hunt down the original discussion.   Smile

All of you with your alphabetical authors and shelves and things. I put small books in one of the small piles, medium books in one of the medium piles, and large books in one of the large piles.

It is also possible to organise by colour:

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