I don’t need a job—I make work for myself. If only I could figure out a way to monetize it. For instance, this very week, instead of doing the necessaries around the house, I decided to compile an itemized list of every book on my shelf, its height, type (hard or softcover), whether it had a dust jacket or not, its spine colour and font colour. Why, you ask? So that I could use the data to organize my shelves in the most aesthetically pleasing way possible, regardless of author or series.
This is new territory for me, as I am loath to disorganize my books intentionally. When I worked at a library, it irritated me to no end when a series of books weren’t organized in numerical order because their Library of Congress call number organized them alphabetically by title. Or worse: a series of books was interspersed with standalone books by the same author. A sticky conundrum for someone who is borderline OCD—you can’t very well upset the LC call number sequence to put the series in the right order. They should add a subsystem making allowances for keeping series in order—or should the intake people simply enter the data according to the series title? Needless to say, I do not like to see books out of place. But I thought I would overcome my reluctance and see how visually pleasing the arrangement by size and colour could possibly be.
And I’m taking you along for the ride because I planned on posting something on Saturday—
So, after I made the aforementioned Completely Necessarily Detailed List, I undertook to arrange my shelves according to it. Oh, you thought I looked at the list? You know, as a reference? The very reason I told myself I was making it? Pshaw. I simply pulled all the books off my shelves, stacked them in what appeared to be their respective sizes, and then fit them to the shelves and eyeballed the colour arrangement. So glad I spent all day making a Helpful List. (On reflection, this experience has made me realise that I may have a future in data collection and entry—I am painstaking about it and have no illusions about how likely it is to be utilized for anything. I.e. the information about soft or hard cover and whether or not the books had dust jackets did not remotely factor in to how I organized my shelves—but… you know… it might be… another time.) The result is, unsurprisingly, not ideal, but it’s quite nice at first glance.
Some shelves worked better than others; there is only so much I can do with all the differing sizes, editions, ages, and types of books I own. I also managed to finally oust some books that have been a blot on the landscape for a while. I’m giving The Last Bookaneer the boot after it commandeered a place on my shelf against my will. I moved it to the “re-read to potentially weed” list sometime last year, and have never looked at it with anything approaching to a desire to pick it up in all that time. What makes me think I ever will?
I’ve also finally parted with some of my sentimental favourites from when I was a pre-teen, like the bulk of the Phantom Stallion and the Chestnut Hill series. In addition to having a proclivity for book collecting, I always imagined I would share them with some child of mine, but judging by my single Valentine’s Day, that’s not happening anytime soon, so why cart them around? I can find them at a library somewhere when my future daughter is an avid reader at ten years old and going through her horse phase. (I’m just realising there is a cart and horse joke begging to be made here—because I used the word “cart” in the sentence before I used the word… you know what, no—I’m not that tired and sad.)
I also despatched I Am the Messenger, which I enjoyed re-reading last year but wasn’t sure about putting back on my shelf. It stayed then, but I’ve been side-eyeing it ever since and now it’s time for it to go. Taking them out and being forced to think about how to fit them back in really made me realise how much I didn’t want to put them back in—it’s easy to just coexist with a book that has a neat place in the shelf and isn’t aggravating you by its presence, but once you have to find a place for it, well, it becomes clear very fast which ones you actually want there. My sister, watching me indulge my mania with a humouring air, likened it to the KonMari method which requires you to touch each item to evaluate whether you need it or not.
And that’s about it. My shelf-purging is ongoing and sometimes feels like it’s neverending, but it goes in steady cycles and has become much more manageable since I’ve stopped impulsively buying bunches of used books. And, hooray for the first shelf reorganization of this year—only two months after my last shelf reorganization. Maybe I’ll work on lengthening the time between reorganizing my shelves, too; it’s getting to be a bit of a compulsion. I could get some new hobbies—like painting the same tree over and over again.
How often do you reorganize your shelves? Do you organize by colour, size, type, author, or simply jam them where they fit? Can I get a show of hands from my fellow data-chart creators? No? I’ll just go read a book then. Happy Valentine’s Day–except it’s already over because it’s taken me so long to post this. Nvm.
1 thought on “Bookshelf Reorganization: Do it for the aesthetic”
My apologies due to my immersion in data lately, I’ve fallen a little behind in my reading. You always manage to transform an ordinary event into a fascinating experience for your readers. Actually, I just rearranged my shelves recently, and it took a few tries to get things to be passably sorted by author and series. It didn’t turn out exactly perfect, but it’ll have to do for now. As far as data collection, creation and comparison goes I’m raising both of my hands.
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