Wednesday 11 August 2010

Those shelves, redux

Sorry posting has been so haphazard of late... and thank you for your lovely messages about Lylah. The funeral was a perfect send-off, and she'd have been very pleased. But - as a lady who listed, in an interview she once did for the local paper, her greatest extravagance as 'books' - she'd be very happy for us to move onto that most excellent of extravagances...

You might remember what my shelves looked like the other day... Well, now everything is in place and there's even a little bit of room for more. Don't try and compare photos too closely, because I madly decided to change everything around again - so the books didn't have chance to settle down before they were up and moving again.

I know book-organisation is something most of us are interested in (which is a mystery to many of my friends, who just cram their books onto shelves without any sense of order. Not that the arbitrary method is necessarily bad - viz. Howards End is on the Landing, which I've just started rereading - but it only really counts if it's a conscious decision... the sort of decision non-bibliophiles wouldn't even consider. Mine are done thematically, and then alphabetically within that... sort of. Some are just in height order...

Bookshelves (1.)

Need you ask about the first one and a half shelves? All my lovely Persephone Books. And it made sense to follow them up with Virago books... and the rest of these shelves are taken up with what I call 'doveish' books - i.e. they correspond to the undefinable but unmistakable tastes of the dovegreybooks online reading group (not to be confused with dovegreyreader - we came first!) Oh, except for the bottom shelf, which is, er, books which would fit onto a small shelf... and books I've read which I'm waiting to blog about. And Jane Austen, and Mapp and Lucia.

Oh, and the bottom shelf is for books I'm currently reading (supposedly).

Bookshelves (2.)

Top shelf: diaries and notebooks; SPACE FOR MORE BOOKS!
2nd shelf: Christian books; Those which I'm calling 'other' - mostly post-1960 novels, and those which didn't fit in anywhere else
3rd shelf: Books relating to my research; library books (some crossover here!)
And then CDs, which aren't of interest here...

Bookshelves (3.)

Top shelf: Virginia Woolf (primary)
2nd shelf: Virginia Woolf (secondary); Bloomsbury and other similar books (Katherine Mansfield, Roger Fry, etc.)
3rd shelf: Books to Read Soon. This incorporates my Must Read Soon, Must Read Very Soon, and Must Read Immediately shelves from the previous house... These should be in some sort of order, but currently they're not.
4th & 5th shelves: books waiting to be reviewed. And some which should be on the 6th shelf...
6th shelf: Non-fiction, literary theory, diaries, letters, that sort of thing...

So, there we are! They'll probably all be rearranged at some point, but I'm quite happy with it for now... and, of course, at the moment books aren't scattered across every remaining surface. This will, naturally, change.


  1. Do you know, since we moved, my books are now arranged in a sort of order. Ish. In a similarly vague way to my CDs, which are now arranged into this order: Compilations/soundtracks/Christian/indie rock (in order of coolness)/chilled-out, indie pop and pop folk (in order of coolness)/CDs I'm ashamed of/other.
    Somehow, that made sense at the time. A bit like your bookshelves.
    PS Where's my Harry Potter??

  2. There can never be too many posts discussing this - especially when accompanied by photographs! (I also like that your stuffed animals have a place of pride alongside the books in the first picture).

    I tried to have a conversation yesterday with friends about how they organise their bookshelves but the response was not warm. I think it's fascinating to see all the different, and vastly creative, ways people have for organizing their collections. I favour thematic groups, though the themes are, at times, incomprehensible to others. Oh well, it works for me.

  3. When I was living in my last house, I had a way of organising my CDs that I was quite pleased with. They were in three stacks, and whenever I wanted to listen to something, I would make sure to take a CD from around the middle or bottom of one of the stacks. Then, when I'd finished listening to it, it went back on top of that same stack.

    The practical effect was that CDs I listened to a lot never made it very far down the stack before going back to the top, while ones I didn't like so much slipped inexorably down to the bottom. So not only was I guaranteed variety in my listening, I also ended up (after a couple of months) with all my CDs ranked roughly in order of how much I liked them.

    Yes, you know you're a geek when you implement sorting algorithms in your music collection...

  4. I have just two bookshelves and they are nowhere as neat as yours! My TBR is piled up on a side table and this pile is growing quite fast. Reading has taken a bit of a backseat of late. Hopefully by the end of this month I will be back to reading at my normal pace.

  5. Well, you are inspiring, but I am 65 and have been collecting my own books since about 1954. I donate boxes and bags to Goodwill, but am still struggling. I refuse to buy more bookshelves!!!!

    There are just too many categories of books I am interested in: classics, kidlit, picture books, Hungarian books, poetry, memoir and biography,garden books (I was a garden writer for nearly 20 years and very besotted with the subject) cookery books, Hungarian books, quilt books, fabric design, history, best beloved books (the ones I read and reread which live on shelves in my bedroom), book illustration and illustrators, and on and on. One good thing is I can't imagine ever being bored with life. One bad thing is I am not a person with a natural talent for organization. But I persevere.

    Being ruthless (aka blessing other people with my books) about books I don't want to keep because I won't reread them or use them for reference , is the only advice I can offer. I have them somewhat by topics, and somewhat in an order that pleases me visually.

  6. I echo Claire - this is always an interesting topic and most esp. when accompanied by pictures. I have a bookseller's table by my reading chair that holds all my current reading and "next-to-be-reads" but the shelves around the house need such a re-haul! I'm headed for my own version of HEIOTL, organization loosely by room. :)

  7. Hey, I'm doing a book giveaway on my blog and thought you might be interested!

    Great Blog!

  8. I envy you the space to organise your books as you like - but then I guess it helps that part of your collection is housed elsewhere!

  9. Can we have some close ups?! I'd love to see the titles of what's on those shelves!

    You've done an excellent job. I like the thematic groupings; it's ever so boring when people just alphabetise their books. My shelves are just random at the moment but one day when I have a fine collection of shelves and a semi permanent home, they will be thematically arranged too and I'll be in book heaven. :)

    Out of interest, what Persephone are you using for your research?

  10. Beautiful! I am a big fan of thematically and colour-themed bookshelves.

    Also, please settle a dispute for me: is the third bookshelf wider at the top than it is at the bottom or is it a trick of the camera angle?

  11. Will reply properly to everyone soon... but Claire (PR) - it's partly the camera angle, and partly the fact that the bookcase leans heavily to the right, because I put it together so badly!

  12. I do always find it fascinating to see how everyone else organises their book shelves. I have to say if I popped round I would be nioseying my way through your diaries and note books haha.

  13. oooh, trouble here. Empty space on one of the shelves.

    Since bookshelves, like nature, abhor a vacuum, I predict that space will fill itself up without any effort on your part, and in a few weeks you'll find yourself looking at the place where the space used to be, wondering where those books came from.

  14. My books are: i) fiction - alphabetical; ii) non-fiction - vaguely genre-based; iii) tall books; iv) books that might as well go on a different shelf.

    Why do I not see Eye of the World on your 'currently reading' shelf?

  15. Your book shelves are so organized! Mine are soooo haphazard, lol.

  16. Such a cheery corner with your bookshelf, chair and flowers!

    If you're watching a movie and a scene is taking place in a library, do you find your eye roaming to the shelves rather than the characters? I do that every time. Thanks for sharing your shelves!

  17. Beautiful shelves. You must be so pleased to be settled and have your books about you again. And it's good news for your readers that there's some shelf space left for new books! Looking forward to seeing what you fill them with.

  18. I truly have enjoyed getting acquainted with your blog. I read down to this one (Those shelves, redux) and stopped. I admire your organization and think I will follow your lead and assign a shelf to the books I haven't read yet. What a terrific idea!

  19. Mel - I'd be intrigued to know how you divide 'indie rock' and 'indie pop'.. and am amused at 'in order of coolness' - are you now the arbiter of cool? I should get you to buy me sunglasses!

    Claire - it's such a fun topic, isn't? I love discussions about how people own their books, if you know what I mean, but most people just don't care. And themes which only make sense to the themer (that's definitely not a word) are the best. Oh, yes, Patch, Fido and David are proudly in place! Very literate stuffed animals they are, too.

    Phil - that made me laugh! Genius.

    Mystica - trust me, they won't be orderly for long! And these don't include the thousand or so books I have at my parents' house...

    Kristi - what a wonderful description of your books, I want to see pictures... I'm looking forward to having mine all together one day, so I can sort out definite categories. At the moment all the books at Somerset-home are in alphabetical order by author...

    Susan - I love the idea of organisation by room! That speaks of a lovely, book-filled home. And my 'must read soon' piles seem to be big enough to last me a year or so, let alone all the unread books, which would probably take me to 2015.

    AmandaRose - thanks for the link!

    Verity - it does help indeed! One day, chaos will take over... but Dad doesn't retire for another eight years, so I'm safe til then.

    Rachel - that 'one day' is in my mind too - probably when I'm about fifty... And I'm afraid the photos are a bit blurry - I'll try to get closer-up ones at some point...
    The Persephone on my research shelf is A Very Great Profession by Nicola Beauman - if you haven't read it, do!

    Simon - you wouldn't dare! In fact, you wouldn't be able to reach - a stepladder is needed for the top shelves...

    Susan D - haha, I wouldn't be surprised! The space on the top shelf has been taken up by boxes of letters, but I can envisage soon that all non-book material on bookshelves will disappear...

    Col - because I was desperate for any book that would fit on the really small shelf to go onto that shelf! Also, perhaps, because I haven't read it since March...

    Chelsea - give me time, it won't last ;-)

    Darlene - oh, of course I do! And it's so frustrating when they're too blurry to read! The yellow lilies have been replaced with sunflowers now - I'd like to keep flowers there all the time. Just depends on whether I can afford it or not...

    Kate - it is nice to have them all in place - even if so many are calling "read me! read me!"

    Rebecca - thank you so much! And most of the books I have in Oxford are unread, hence a shelf for really-must-read-soon books!!


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