Manolo for the Home » More Bookshelf Etiquette






More Bookshelf Etiquette

By Christa Terry

When I last wrote about organizing bookshelves, a bunch of you weighed in after voting in the poll (which is still open). Some people organize by size, others by color, others by topic or genre or author, while the rest of us just kind of stash books wherever they fit, whether that means on bookshelves or not.

Bookshelf Organization

As it turns out, those are by no means the only ways of organizing a bookshelf. In a recent Guardian article, Sarah Crown and John Crace put forth the idea that rearranging one’s bookshelves alphabetically is a bad mistake because alphabetization is, according to them, the most banal approach to bookshelving. They go on to suggest these alternative ways of arranging a home library.

The literary snob

Old Penguins, heavily creased to denote re-reading, are lined up in rows of orange, black and grey. These can be bought by the yard at most secondhand bookshops, and are a very easy way of acquiring instant intellectual credibility.

The David Cameron

Books by important members of the new Tory World Order are prominently displayed where they can be seen by everyone. Acolytes can ascertain how close to power they are by the position of their own books.

The Jeffrey Archer

Shelf after shelf of your own book in every imaginable translation and edition – frequently in multiples of 10. Come to think of it, this applies to almost ever author I know.

The ‘I’m desperate for a shag’, male version

Must include prominent copies of The Golden Notebook and The Second Sex and any dreary rubbish by Ian McEwan lying around to show you are in touch with your sensitive side. Best to hide any well-thumbed copies of Belle du Jour and La Vie Sexuelle by Catherine M under the bed.

The “I’m desperate for a shag’, female version

Doesn’t really require books – it’s the last thing a man will notice. But on the off-chance you bring someone home who can read, it might be an idea temporarily to lose anything too intimidating by Andrea Dworkin. Unless you’re a lesbian, in which case you might like to put it on the coffee table.

The kleptomaniac

Easy. You just arrange your books in accordance with the numbering system of the library from which you nicked them.

Personally, I like the sound of The Jeffrey Archer!









4 Responses to “More Bookshelf Etiquette”




  1. Portside Says:

    What about, the High Fidelity System?
    Reorganize entire book collection on a random codified basis based on how out of control your life feels at that time. Also out of one’s desire for some sense of understanding of life and a higher pattern. All other organizing systems and combinations thereof are fair game.

    FWIW, works great for DVD’s too…




  2. Never teh Bride Says:

    I like it, Portside!




  3. TeleriB Says:

    “rearranging one’s bookshelves alphabetically is a bad mistake because alphabetization is apparently the most banal approach to bookshelving.”

    …what?

    I don’t alphabetize myself – I have a lot of nonfiction that I want to search for by topic and title. I couldn’t tell you who wrote most of the books I own. So, I group them by topic (and then the groupings are usually small enough to browse for title).

    But my husband is a genre literature kind of guy. We estimate he’s got 3000 novels, mostly science fiction and alternate history. And when he wants a book, he does classify by author – he’s looking for “that new Harry Turtledove” or “one of my old Heinlein books.”

    I alphabetized them once, two moves ago, but not since. And since they’re packed two deep on the shelves, it’s now impossible to find what you’re looking for except by blind luck or extended search.

    Banal or not, we could find things if they were alpha by author.




  4. Never teh Bride Says:

    I entirely agree, TeleriB. Imagine a library arranged in one of the ways the authors suggest? It would not even be worth trying to find one’s desired book!












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