How do you shelf?

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Jazzman99
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How do you shelf?

Postby Jazzman99 » Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:42 am

I'm running up against a problem I hit every couple of years, and while I don't think there's a real solution, I'm curious about how other people handle this--assuming I'm not the only nut in the world. Here are the elements of the problem.

1. I collect the works of a number of authors I like, and I pick up their books whenever I get a chance. Some I'm obsessive about, trying to get everything (Harlan Ellison, of course); some I pick up anything I see new, and good stuff from used bookstores and the like that I don't already have (Lawrence Block, Bill Bryson, Faye Kellerman, Don DeLillo, heck, probably twenty or thirty others); some are older authors where I pick up nice hardbacks whenever I get a chance, with the long-term goal of having nice editions of everything they wrote (P. G. Wodehouse, Rex Stout). In addition, of course, there are a lot of other books I've picked up just because they look neat or I'm interested in the topic--so, for example, I probably have a couple of dozen books on Jack the Ripper, and I try to keep them together. I also buy a lot of comic book and comic strip collected editions, which tend to come in wildly different sizes and formats. I don't buy a lot of new books, but between library sales, bargain tables, and the like, it's a rare week when I don't add a few new books to the stacks.

2. I've gotten a *little* better about this over the years, but I *hate* getting rid of books. Unless I've read something and absolutely loathed it, I want to keep it. I love having thousands of books around that I haven't yet read, and I also love looking at the spine of a book I have read and getting that little twist of memory and pleasure.

3. I have limited shelf space--more than most people, I imagine, but still limited. Also scattered; in the house I currently live in the shelves are, by necessity, scattered through four different rooms. To complicate things further, the shelves are of various sizes, and some books won't fit on some shelves.

So the question: how the bloody hell do I actually organize the things? Take one small example--say, Wodehouse. When I moved in I put the fifteen or so hardcover Wodehouses I had at the time together on a shelf, and in the years since I've acquired several more--but I've never been able to put them all together, because of course the Wodehouses are right next to another author whose books are all together (Toni Morrison, randombly enough), and lord knows I don't have the energy or time to deal with this every time I bring a single book home (bring home new Wodehouse; move all the Morrisons; shelve the Wodehouse; find some group of books to put into the vacated Morrison space; find somewhere new for the Morrisons; repeat tomorrow, when you bring home the new Ed McBain). So books end up getting filed randomly until I can't take it any more, at which point I start making stacks on the pool table and rearranging everything, which is a pain, an enormous time suck, and a temporary measure, since I'll have to do it again in a year or two.

As I say, I don't think there's really any solution to this; the books are going to keep coming in, and I'm too set in my ways for them to start going out at the same rate. I guess I'm partly just blowing off steam, and partly wondering how everyone else deals with similar issues.

Thanks for listening!

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Postby Moderator » Wed Mar 04, 2009 11:00 am

I can't say that I am all that well organized either, but essentially I put fiction alphabetically by author, and non-fiction is organized by topic, then author.

Best people to answer this are Loftus and Dannelke.

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Postby reddragon70 » Wed Mar 04, 2009 6:38 pm

I try to group my authors together, usually fail though. Mostly this is due to differing book size. I have to fit them into my three book cases and some just will not fit into certain shelves. So I have all my Robert Rankin and Stephen King books nicely laid out together. So are my Iain M Banks and Terry Prathetts. Then there are the oddities. The ones that just will not fit. Damn the publishers for being so inconsiderate as to not think of my shelving problems...

Its a minor annoyance, as I would like to have all my books grouped by author then shelved in order of the books print date. The only problem there is I collect both hard and paper backs and dont like mixing them.

One day I will get a whole wall shelved and then the fun will really begin!

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Wed Mar 04, 2009 6:59 pm

No classics Red?

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Postby David Loftus » Thu Mar 05, 2009 11:53 am

I have gotten rid of hundreds and hundreds of books over the decades -- to used book stores, libraries, thrift stores, Goodwill. I've been getting rid of dozens just in the past few months. Someday you will learn how to do it, by saying to yourself "this couple of books, or the potential to do other things with the rest of my life?"

As for organizing the thousand or more than I have retained, that's a tricky business when you live in a shotgun loft apartment that's less than 700 sf, with a spouse, dog, and cat. We have many panels of Dania shelves, the top few with glass doors, which is pretty cool. My Ellison, Fowles, Bradbury, and Feiffer collections are in groups behind those; I have another shelf with just all-time favorite books that I'm most likely to reach for again (everything from Collected T.S. Eliot and _The Master and Margarita_ to several books about Kurosawa).

From there it's generally fiction by author, nonfiction by subject.

And a lot of other books are crammed into boxes and stacked to the ceiling in closets.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Ezra Lb.
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Postby Ezra Lb. » Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:40 pm

An idea which I have adopted is a small book case for books which I have aquired but not yet read. The good part is that I inherited such a waist high two level bookcase that was built by my grandfather.

This prevents unread books from getting lost in the (more or less) permanent collection. As long as I've done it this way this bookcase has never gotten completely empty and has once or twice filled to overflowing. Of course when a book is read then it is either passed on or it takes a place of honor in my permenent collection (more or less).
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robochrist
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Postby robochrist » Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:42 pm

Mass book burning has always been MY solution.

reddragon70
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Postby reddragon70 » Fri Mar 06, 2009 6:15 am

FrankChurch wrote:No classics Red?


Well it depends on what you define as "Classic". I have two versions of The Lord of The Rings. A three book hardcover from about 1980 and a 1976 Deluxe edition printed on indian paper which comes in a leather bound box. Got my Ellison collection that i regard as classics. Frankenstein According To Spike Milligan and Black Beauty According to Spike Milligan?

I do have some of the classics somewhere. Moby Dick, Heart of Darkness, One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich, Necronomicon The best weird tales of HP Lovecraft and a few others scattered amongst my book cases. Its not that I have anything against the classics, its just that I have so many books to read and so little time in which to read them. That and I love Science Fiction and Fantasy, so they tend to take presidence.

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Jan
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Postby Jan » Fri Mar 06, 2009 10:09 am

Part of my shelf, seperating books by size and type.
Image

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Fri Mar 06, 2009 10:35 am

I take it those books are mostly in the least romantic of all mother tongues, along with Chinese and Russian and Arabic.

I see a pattern. People with romantic languages tend to have less evil in their hearts. Wink.

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Jan
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Postby Jan » Fri Mar 06, 2009 6:40 pm


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Steve Evil
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Postby Steve Evil » Sun Mar 08, 2009 12:16 am

Shelving? I just pile them up on the floor by my bed side. That way I'm obliged to read them . . .

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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Sun Mar 08, 2009 11:28 am

Well, I ALSO have two of those other "solutions" mentioned by folks above: a stack of possibly-to-be-read books right next to my bed, and a small bookshelf full of still more of same and library books that have been checked out and renewed for months on end just a couple more feet away.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus


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