Piles of Books

In my home, I have a small library. By this I mean one and a half walls are lined with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. I’d keep covering them, but I run into resistance from my husband and the vents on the floor. This library also houses my desk (complete with computer setup and printer), two filing cabinets, and two smaller bookshelves.

It is a blessing and a curse to have so many books on so many topics. Okay, seriously, this is me. It’s all blessing. The only curse is trying to figure out how to organize them. I’m a little too obsessive to let them populate the shelves as they may, and I’m also not forward-thinking enough to leave room on shelves where I may or may not purchase more books.

Who am I kidding? I always purchase more books. Yes, I read ebooks, too, but I have this thing about print books. I love paper and everything associated with it – books blank or printed, office supplies (I have to stop myself from buying index cards until I use the ones I have), graph paper, bookmarks…

So this week I decided it bothered me enough to make a new system. The old system is still there, not yet dismantled as I figure out what I’m dealing with. Two major systems of organization are Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress. Both of them are probably a little too hardcore for me, though it’d be so much fun to figure it out. I asked my book-loving friends, but most of them organize by author and title. I just haven’t figured out how to happily associate fiction and nonfiction and the various topics and still find the exact book I’m looking for when I want it.

I look at the backs of the nonfiction books. Some of them proclaim different subjects to be filed under like Health or Science / Astronomy or Psych / Self-Help. It seems to be the start of a system, until you look at one subject and wonder why they’re not lumped together. Would you classify a book about intelligence tests (filled with exercises to increase your brainpower) under Health, Body Mind Spirit, Games / Humor, or Reference? Because I have at least one in each category.

These discrepancies from the back of the book bother me. It bothers me enough to explain the piles everywhere as I figure out what books I have and where I want them to go. I have a further constriction of shelf and book size to manage.  I’ve had all my writing reference books together for a while, and it’s nice that if I have something I need to figure out, I only go to one spot.  I love being able to find what I need.

I’m excited my science books seem to fit on one shelf. I have applied technical books and natural science books mixed together, but if I ever snag the rest of my engineering books from storage, that would account for another section entirely.

Anyone else have interesting ways to make their book organization system (or lack thereof) fit their needs? Do you randomize them occasionally to mess with visitors (like me) who need to have certain things in order? Do you pile them sideways on the shelves as you run out of room?

My other project will be putting all those owned books into GoodReads. I’ve been meaning to do it for some time, but it’s one of those things that gets away from me. I may be ready to get some of them on the swap list to see if someone wants books I’m willing to part with in exchange for something else I’m ready to read. One step at a time, however.

It’s always good to figure out what’s there first. And I’m well on my way to that.

6 thoughts on “Piles of Books

  1. Please don’t ask me to count them. I’m totally with Thomas Jefferson when he said, “I cannot live without books.”

  2. I commiserate! All of my more than dozen bookshelves are filled and there are stacks laying around in every room with no place to put them! I LOVE books!

  3. I just saved a single shelf by putting in a box to store (within easy reach) all the paper products (like blank books). I’m so excited I might have to visit a bookstore!

  4. There’s a reason we’re each other’s lost Selves. I have books stacked sideways across the ones on each shelf of our one 6′ bookcase, the low bookcase filled, and a bunch of mathematics, psychology, and computer programming books piled and boxed in the “junk room.”

    Here’s an idea. There is software that will allow you to input all your library…there are even ones that include a UPC hand-held scanner to get the book’s ISBN info online. Then you could store them all completely alphabetically by title on the shelves, and use the software catalogue to determine what you have, then find it by title. Just a thought…

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