Sunday, October 07, 2007

My Dirty Little Secret


You know how everyone has something (or many somethings) that makes them, well, just a bit wierd? Here's one of mine.

I love to reorganize my bookshelves. Seriously love it. Approach some kind of zen-like peace love it. There's something about handling books that calms me. I've been encouraged by several "bookish" friends to "keep my books at the library" (aka, sell all but the most precious--no more than one shelf full for the entire house--and then rely on the library/interlibrary loan) and I actually think that's a pretty good idea except for the fact that I can't quite seem to give up the possibility of rearranging my own bookshelves now and then.

Lately, I think I've found my new favorite way to organize books: by color. When I read a book, I tend to become rather intimmately aquainted with its size, shape, and color. I remember those physical details almost instinctively, and often far better than I remember little details like titles and authors. Plus, there's the added bonus of having a sense of visual order imposed upon the normally chaotic bookshelf. So color organization really seems to work for me.

Today, during the morning session of conference, I was watching Lucy and thought "hmm, why not take the plunge?" I'd experimented with sections of shelf in color before, but today I decided to fully commit: three whole shelves. And I love it. Wierd, huh ...







17 comments:

Nick said...

You're weird.

But it is very pretty.

randy said...

You see the first 3 horizontal lines at the top left of your first picture? That's three shelves. You didn't just do three shelves, Jenny.
:-)

Jenny said...

That's why I stick to books rather than math, Randy :)

Cabeza said...

Jenny! We are kindred spirits, for I too love to organize my books.

I'm afraid, though, that I'm much more boring in my organization--I insist on an alphabetical order based on the author's last name. I also generally divide into genres of church and non-church. I think that organizing by color would drive me crazy because I wouldn't know where to find things. I like having my books at my fingertips and ready to be found. I like knowing the names of the authors that write my books. Although I must say, your shelves are very aesthetically pleasing.

People in college made fun of me for my book organizing. They'd ask to borrow a book, ask where to find it, and I'd say, "Check the shelf, under K for Kipling." They'd laugh at me, but they found the book easily enough, didn't they?

I'm moving to a new townhouse apartment in a few weeks and I'm really excited because I'll be buying bookshelves and finally able to unpack all of my boxes of books--something I've never before done. I was going to go with my old secular/non-secular, last-name alphabetical standby, but your post has inspired me to try something different. It will likely still be alphabet-based, but I'm trying to brainstorm new twists to make my organization my own.

Cabeza said...

Oh, and I too feel the need to own books. I use the library a lot, but some books just must be on hand.

Anne Fadiman wrote a book called Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader . In one of her essays, she examines types of book readers. Some she calls "carnal book lovers," i.e. those that love their books to dog-ears and cracked spine and bent covers. I'm not necessarily a carnal book lover, but I do enjoy being able to use my book to my whims, and later look at it and see how worn it is. I can tell how much I carried a book around, where it went, how I held it, even if I fell asleep with my head in its folds. The library affords me no such examination of my reading.

The Shark said...

I have a similar fetish, but it's with my movie collection. I have something like 216 DVD movies/sets, and a couple years ago I bought them their own bookcase (of course, back then I was only at about 125). Outgrowing the bookcase was a fun little adventure in reorganization.

I normally alphabetize by title, with exceptions given to sequels, in which case I generally place them right after their predecessor (e.g. "Shanghai Knights" goes right after "Shanghai Noon," even though it is alphabetically reversed). I also make exceptions for special box sets (so that volume one of the Charlie Chaplin collection stays together rather than being split up by each film's respective title).

When I moved out here to VA last month I had to reorganize my movies again because they'd been temporarily boxed up. That was fun, but the sad part is that I then took each DVD out of its case and placed them in a rather large carrying case (with a medium-sized one as an overflow) so I could easily transport them to the east coast. The cases and book shelf are all in storage in Springville. One day I will return for them.

And I have thought about organizing by color before, actually. Unfortunately I, like my brother, would go batty trying to figure out where everything is. When I want to watch a movie or loan one out, I pride myself in being able to quickly know where to find it. I was also ridiculed in college for how organized my movies were, which baffled me because I don't know of any other way to effectively manage my collection and keep it all in check, especially when the same people who ridiculed me were the ones constantly borrowing from it!

Muriel said...

Jenny, you are so funny. I think the color thing would drive me nuts, not being able to find something when I wanted it. Mine are organized by genre, size and then author. My next task is to make an alphabetized list of every book we own so that I can carry it with me when we're at the D.I. You'd be surprised at how many books we accidentally have duplicate copies of. Not counting the 6 different copies of George Orwell's 1984, of course. Those were bought on purpose.

Amy Jean said...

you're not weird. i love to organize everything in sight. (that does not mean that if you opened my cupboards you would find them organized) i just put organization on my list of "dreams to accomplish someday" list

Jenny said...

I'm glad I'm not alone in my organizational tendencies. The funny thing is, it takes me just about as long to find a book in my old organizational system (alphabetized by author) as it does with this new system (mainly because I'm incredibly bad at remembering names. In fact, I've forgotten yours as you read this parenthetical aside.) Nick tested me on it the other day, and even using books I haven't read (like his entire Star Wars collection--nothing against them) I was able to locate them pretty quick.

But here's my confession to my confession: those three bookcases only hold our fiction, biographies, and old college textbooks we keep because I'm one of those people who would rather have the book just in case I need perform psychoanalysis or explain cellular growth to someone in a pinch. This same room also holds two other similarly sized bookcases with all of my philosophy, religious (non-lds), and lit. crit. books. And they're organized by genre/subject and then alphabetically by author. And our two bookcases of LDS books downstairs have no organizational method whatsoever other than to try to keep the sets together and to get all the books on the shelves (we need another case ...). So it's not all rainbows here in Webbbookland. No, that's just a pretty front we like to put up for people who read this blog.

Muriel said...

I was pretty sure that it looked like mostly textbooks, and I knew you had a lot more books (just gaging from your conversations with my husband). I was going to call you on it, but I don't have room to talk seeing as Matt has two bookcases downstairs in "his room" plus all his books that I don't even see that are at his office at the college.

JonnyF said...

Organizing by color, huh? We organize by importance. The most important books go on the uppermost shelves, where Elizabeth isn't likely to find something to stand on and pull them off.
Actually I'm kidding. But only partially.

And we all know why Jared wouldn't know where to find things if his books were organized by color. I'm just sayin'. You know we were all thinking it.

Jenny said...

Jon, I think you're onto something in terms of book preservation. And I'd forgotten about Jared's relationship with color ... made me smile. Thanks :)

Muriel said...

Our bottom shelf definitely contains the "least threatening". And I recently had to move the Young Adult genre down a shelf so my 7 year old could reach it. He's loving Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Superfudge. And of course his Box Car Children series.

Oh yeah, I forgot about the bookshelves in the kids rooms. Done by type then size (paperback vs. hardback) They are pretty random since they get perused almost hourly.

apyknowzitall said...

I thought you were one sick puppy before Jenny but now... I don't know who's more sick. You for doing it or me for actually understanding and appreciating how aesthetically pleasing it is.

Muriel said...

Well, I did it. I took my laptop to the bookshelf and cataloged the entire thing. Now just have to move down to hubby's bookshelf in his "man cave". The good news is, I only found 11 books that we had duplicates of. Wow, we're pathetic.

Ben and Shara said...

I admit to being the one to tell you to store them at the library. We love that our books are there. But I must admit that the color version of shelving is outstanding.

Ben loves to arrange his books by century. The century the book was written. But he often changes up his method.

Jenny said...

Muriel, I'm impressed (and slightly jealous--a catalogue listing would make our family library even more official!)

Shara--there are days I really think you guys have the right idea--less stuff to manage and a nice side income from the book sales. But I just can't let go yet ...
PS those flashback pics on your blog are a riot :)