Thursday, November 3, 2011

Organizing My Books

Today I happened to glance at an tee-shirt advertised in one of the plethora of catalogs that have arrived by mail in the last couple of weeks.  The shirt read: I have CDO; it's like OCD, but the letters are in the right order.
I smiled and then remembered how many people I've heard say that they alphabetize their spices.  I don't.  That would drive me nuts.  I put like kinds of spices together because that makes sense to me.
Then I recalled seeing some decorating article on yahoo a few weeks ago that talked about organizing one's books by color for visual effect.  My thought was that if one does that, then no one will read the books.  But perhaps I'm wrong.  Does anyone actually know people who organize their books by color?
I do know that there are many people who organize their home libraries rather like the fiction sections of most American libraries and alphabetize them by author's last name.  I can understand that, but I could never do it.
My books are grouped by type, on different shelves, in different rooms.  For example, my vast array of travel books takes up the top two shelves of my living room bookcase -- and they're organized east to west, with China on one end and Oregon on the other, because that makes sense to me and I can find the book I want quickly that way.  (Scotland gets a whole shelf to itself, as there are just so many books.)
My Harry Potter books, on the other hand, are organized chronologically, with the American editions first and then the UK editions afterwards, on a shelf in the guest bedroom.  Underneath them and to the right is the entire John Rebus series by Ian Rankin, in chronological order, but -- since I only own one copy of each of these -- the US and UK editions are together.  I'm not sure why Harry Potter and John Rebus have to be on the same bookcase for me, but they do.  It would really bug me to separate them.  It may be because I began reading the Rebus books while I was waiting for HP 6 to come out while I was living in Scotland.  And, after all, both Rowling and Rankin do live within a few blocks of each other in Edinburgh.  That may be it; I'm not sure.  But I AM sure that I have to have those two series in their proper places.
Actually, there's an emotional connection for me with each book and where I put it.  When I buy a book, I always know where it belongs in my system.
So, I organize my books by type and by my emotional connections to them.  How do you organize your home libraries?  Or do you organize them at all?


  1. Organize, what? What is this strange concept of which you speak?

  2. My books are categorsied into fiction and non-fiction, with subcatergories for collections in the fiction and into other subcategories for non-fiction (history, life, science, humour and 'what is that?') They are then ordered alphabetically by author.

    And yes, my spices are in alphabetical order, as are my DVDs and CDs. (Sigh) At least I can find everything when I want it.

  3. Martin, I used to know a man who not only alphabetized his videos and DVDs, but he also numbered them and then printed up a chart to hang next to his cabinet so they could be found by number as well.

  4. Hmmmmm. Interesting idea. Unfortunately I have a life so can't do that.

  5. Yeah, I thought it was a bit much, too. But, oh well. It was his time and his collection.

  6. Wow. Cataloging by color would be fun, but how would you find anything? My books are sorted in a rather boring way -- by subject matter. Religion, fiction, philosophy, etc., etc. Rather dewey decimal, but without the numbers . . . or the sub-categorizing with alphabetization. Or any sub-categorization period.