Saturday, May 02, 2009

Movin In--book sorting edition

I barely have anything that might be interesting to anyone else who might be reading, since the bulk of my week has involved lifting things and putting them down somewhere else.

The big picture on all of this, though, as that we are out of the old house, which we no longer own, and into the new house which we sort of own: we went to settlement on Friday, signed out papers, handed a check over to the mortgage rep, and walked out again, but the prior owner wasn't there: he was called in to a federal court case as a representative of the union for which he works, and won't sign off on anything until Monday, so keep your fingers crossed that nothing nasty happens.

In the meantime, willow has taken the kids to friends' for the weekend, and I am here trying to whip the place into shape...painting, laying down rugs, unpacking boxes, installing bathroom and closet hardware, hanging pictures, hooking up electronics, etc. Three and half days of full-on house work is actually kind of invigorating.

So here's the question: I'm sorting books, and our bookshelves are in a slightly different configuration, which provides an opportunity to reorganize, but also leaves open the option of leaving the book schema basically as it was. So how do you organize your books in your house? All of my drama and theory books are on campus, but Willow's more work oriented stuff, as well as her cotton-candy reading (both of which overlap through some genre fiction--sci-fi, fantasy, fairy tale, and romance) is here. We also have a few random books in other genres--philosophy, health, etc.--as well as a healthy collection of what might be called literary fiction.

So, do we break out the genres with (I think) a greater ease of use, but also with an implied hierarchy (the more prestigious literary fiction in the family room where the most people will see them), or do we simply combine each collection and sort by author? Or do we just throw all the books on the nearest shelf and call it a day? How do you sort?


annieem said...

Hi Horace,
Lurking reader here making first comment....I enjoy reading your blog, btw.

I sort by genre, as you have done in before, sort of. In the "public" living room I have more hard cover books (yes, they look good), and a mix of genres (fiction, poetry, non fiction/essays/lit crit), but in my home office I keep the fiction/litcrit/essays that are closest to my heart (hiding them from those who may ask to "borrow" a book, perhaps?). These are mostly paperbacks, with my comments scattered in the margins, or post its in key location....

Nels said...

Just wanted to say congrats for getting this far! How exciting to be in the new place and feel like things are coming together.

We organize by genre and have the nice hardcover books in the living room, mostly. But it's purely psychological. I have the bedroom shelves, and I've organized them in groups that make sense to me and make it so I can find things fast, which is what matters most to me.

But, congrats!

Flavia said...

Have you read Anne Fadiman's essay on marrying libraries (the first in Ex Libris)? I think of it whenever I rearrange my books, and it's a lovely essay.

I currently order the bulk of my at-home book collection chronologically, but keeping books by the same author together, though I have separate shelves for reference (in my home office), books on film and music (in my bedroom), non-early-modern books on religion (side shelves in the living room), and cookbooks, housekeeping, and etiquette books (in the kitchen).

I'm thinking of breaking the main collection down even more by genre next time I reorganize, since right now I have books that are basically sociology mixed in with the literature books in chronological order. That makes a certain amount of sense (Veblen, Weber, and Goffman DO represent and reflect their particular historical moments), but maybe not enough sense!

Or I might just say the hell with it, and return to my prior system of rigid alphabetization. Easy to find things that way!

pocha said...

We sort by genre. Our poetry, drama, and novels/short-fiction go in the family room (or did, when we had decently sized home); the nonfiction (subdivided into travel books, reference texts, philosophy & criticism, history/memoir etc.) were in the bedrooms and office. Foodie books went in the kitchen (I insisted in having built-ins put in the kitchen, but again this was when we had a nice, spacious home...)

Also, we never bothered to alphabetize b/c it was so hard to maintain, especially when our two year old gets into the books ;-)

Hope that helps.

Moria said...

Most of my books are ordered loosely by period (classical, medieval, renaissance... and everything after 1700 - what can I say, that's how I roll), then by genre (simply: poetry, drama, prose), then alphabetically by author. A separate section for lit crit and historical writing, lumped together only semi-comfortably. Separate sections for books in French (by author only, as it's a smaller group and they're mostly modern novels anyway) and theory (which posed a problem regarding what the difference is between theory and lit crit or history, as well as whether theory in French went with francophonia or with theory [the latter, I decided], but, well, whatever).

I don't stand by it, necessarily, but it's working well enough for now.

(My word verification is "piges," one of which I hope you don't fall into while organizing your books.)

Moria said...

Ahem, pieges.

Sisyphus said...

Pictures1!!! We want pictures while the house still has the shiny-new-house-smell to it!

I will be of no help for your reorganization, since I arrange my books by size and color. Heh.

Fretful Porpentine said...

What is this "organization" that you speak of?

Actually, I suppose I do have an organizational scheme of sorts: Books that have been used since the beginning of the semester are on the floor. All others are on the shelves.

I probably should not be emulated...

Mo said...

The real deciding factor on my shelf is what can fit where. After that, it's dictated by genre. Keep the schedule books, journals, and notebooks together (don't know if that would apply to you), and I keep them next to the cookbooks. (For ease in taking notes on recipes, perhaps?) There is something charming, however, about a hodgepodge of a bookshelf. Maybe try that first (it's the least time-consuming, obviously) and see how you feel about it. You can always change it later.