Organising your books, continued

Link to part 1
How I organise my own library:

I am not the kind of person who needs to have everything perfectly organised – just organised enough to be able to find things fairly quickly without having to refer to a catalogue or index, and my system reflects that. This is a system I arrived at after several moves which I used as opportunities to try out different arrangements, since I had to take the books down from the shelves anyway.

Books I am reading are strewn all over the house, several in each room. Those I think I have been reading for too long and want to finish soon reside on top of the back of the living-room sofa. Another pile sits on one of the kitchen chairs, well out of splattering range of the stove but within an arm’s reach of the table.

Cookbooks and food reference books belong in the kitchen. Food history, food travel books, essay and article collections and foodie memoirs, however, go with the rest of the history, travel and biography books until I find a decent closed bookshelf for the kitchen. I don’t mind food stains in my cookbooks – it gives them character - but my non-recipe foodie books I want in pristine condition.

TBR books go in the home office, and so do the dictionaries and reference books, except the literary references which are shelved with the literature they refer to. TBR books are organised thus: all the mysteries and thrillers together by author (not alphabetical), all the romances together, and then the rest of them by colour. I act as a library for my mother, so all the books she has not yet read go on a special shelf. Everything is double stacked except the last category, but that is only because I’m keeping them in a CD case and it only takes one row of books. I would like to get shelves I can triple stack. I currently own more unread novels than read ones, but am working hard to change that.

Read books go in the bedroom. General fiction and genres I don’t have much of go together. Literature has a couple of double stacked shelves and blends into mythology, fairy tales and sagas which then blend into fantasy and science fiction. Gerald Durrell and James Herriot have a shelf to themselves, and my Terry Pratchett hardcovers have two. Mysteries go by themselves and also romances, and so do travelogues (along with a few outdated guidebooks I keep as mementos of my journeys) and audio books. Large format books in all genres except sewing, crafts and quilting go on the bottom shelves, and so do all the gardening books. Non-fiction has a book case to itself, with everything arranged in very broad categories, except quilting, sewing and craft books which have one whole shelf to themselves.

Most of my old children’s books and a few chosen school books are in boxes in the basement, as I can’t fit them into the apartment without resorting to having specially fitted bookcases made (a distant dream for when I have enough money to spend on such luxuries).

Dear reader: How do you organise your library? Are you a Dewey or Library of Congress organiser, or do you have a more eclectic system? Do you organise by colour? By size? By periods in your life? By price?
Tell me - I would like to know.

Here’s someone else who has been giving the matter some thought: : Sarah Crown asks readers to share their shelf help tips.


Helen said…
My system is very simple at the moment, maybe because I do not have That many books, ... by size! :) works for me right now.

Bibliophile said…
The size system is good even when you have a big collection, simply because the same kinds of books tend to be published in similar sizes, e.g. art books. It's also a good way to use all available space to the fullest and it's aesthetically pleasing.

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