Sunday, 1 January 2012

This year I should like to

tidy our bookshelves a little.
My father and I have greatly increased the book collection since my mother died. We have not necessarily bought books - although we do that as well - but we have done things differently. There is now a double book case in my father's bedroom, something my mother would never have tolerated. There are more bookcases in the formal area, again something my mother would never have tolerated. There are also more bookcases in the family area. There is a question mark over whether she would have tolerated that too. She simply did not care for books the way we do.
There are also bookcases in my bedroom and the room my father uses as an "office" or study. We have brought books in from where they were stored in the shed outside and a box of books stored at my sister's house has been returned to us.
They have just been stacked, double stacked and triple stacked on to the shelves. I know roughly where to find things. Dictionaries are in one place, name books are beneath them, language books on other shelves, books about the English language on others, cook books on the bottom shelf, knitting books on other shelves, gardening books in my father's bedroom, his collection of "magic" books in the office and novels everywhere.
There are people who say we do not need all these books. They say we should get rid of some of them. Why keep novels you have read? That atlas is out of date. You will never knit all the patterns in those books. That gardening book is so old and those magic books went out before the Ark came in!
There are good reasons for keeping novels. My collection of children's novels is a valuable resource. Children use it. I go back to the books time and time again. How did a writer handle that problem? Adults borrow books to take on holiday and, I admit, sadly we do not always get them back. My father refers to the gardening books and younger magicians come to him with problems or looking for ideas so the magic books get taken from the shelves and answers are searched for.
Our library is a tool in constant use. I know it is not the way other people live. Most people we know have some books in the house - but not nearly as many as we do. Others have almost none. I know families with no books at all - not even a dictionary or an atlas.
We have acquaintances who are almost obsessive-compulsive in their desire for tidiness. Their books are arranged not in subject order or even alphabetical order but in order of size. I could not do that. It would seem entirely wrong to me. The books themselves would feel uncomfortable.
I do feel however that it would be rather nice to tidy the shelves a little. They have become very untidy through constant use. It would be easier to find things if all the books about the same subject were at least together.
I may do it. It is not a New Year's resolution. It is just something I think I would like to do - when I get time.


Old Kitty said...

I knew someone who arranged their books alphabetically by authors' surname. I was most impressed! And she built shelves wherever she could find a space - walls along the staircase, under the staircase, between her kitchen cupboards - lovely!

Enjoy your book collection! May 2012 bring you lots more - books that is! Maybe shelves too! Take care

Donna Hosie said...

After complaints from my husband, I arranged my bookcases last year. Fiction in my big wooden cases, non fiction in another, reference books in another! All alphabetical according to author and then date order if there are more than one for any particular writer.

Anal? Perhaps! Helpful? Hell yes!

Took me days though.

widdershins said...

Whatever time you set aside to do this book organising, double it, and then double it again!

catdownunder said...

Hmmm- do I want to be that organised... and, widdershins, what if I promise not to open the books when sorting them?

widdershins said...


You, along with the rest of us, are a bibliophile. Bibliophiles can't ever, ever stick to promises like that!