Thursday, June 19, 2008

Book Organization | My Eclectic Segregations

My recent trip to K-W to go book shopping has caused a major upheaval. Due to the major influx of new (used) books, I had to remove my Complete Works of Shakespeare (24 vol or so) to the bedroom. In addition, I had to move some of my classic collection (about 6 volumes) from the 50’s or so as well.

I’ve had this discussion about the organization of books on their shelves, and I have found there are people out there that are just as quirky as I am!! These thoughts were re-kindled by the posting of a friend’s book collection on her blog. I’m not sure I’ll get to pictures this month, but I thought I would share how my books are currently organized.

I have four book shelves – two in the main room and two in the bedroom. One is currently being used by my girlfriend and contains all her books and study materials. The books in the main room are all hardcover, and the overflow books in the bedroom are a mix – but mostly softcover.

Main Room Bookcase #1
This bookcase is closest to the window and is parallel to my couch. When I sit to read (with my back to the window) I have an abundance of light, a comfy high-backed cushion behind me and a side view of bookcase #1. However, the books on the bottom of the bookcase sometimes get overlooked because they are blocked by the couch (such is life in the current set-up). Each bookcase has four shelves.

First shelf contains all my really eclectic books – stuff from the late 1800’s through to around the 1950’s. Small books with guilt on the side and books of like kind – they remind me a little of books people put behind them when doing media interviews (in the sense that some of them are the same editions), but they are MUCH more interesting (an old, great-smelling ‘Oliver Twist’, a select poetical works of Scott from 1912-ish from a university in the UK, etc). They’re generally inexpensive books that I took a shining to: pretty much all classics, including some first edition replicas of my faves (‘The Grapes of Wrath’, ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘Of Mice and Men’. To round out the shelf, I’ve put some “Modern Library” editions which have all silver spines with pictures of their authors.

The second shelf contains all my folio books with slipcases. I have this thing for slipcases, and I still do not understand why. I think they look more organized, or something.

Third shelf contains random hardcover fiction – mostly modern classics or less well known books from famous authors.

Fourth shelf contains a lot of sci-fi: mostly Orson Scott Card and Isaac Asimov.

Main Room Bookcase #2
This bookcase is closest to the desk. On the first three shelves I have all my leather-bound books – which are mainly classics again, with a few newer titles (and modern classics such as Brave New World or To Kill A Mockingbird). Books with titles scrolled along the length of the book, are sitting in the middle on their sides. Breaks up the monotony a little bit, and they’re much easier to read. The shelf is also split by leather-type. Full leather comes first, then ¼ leather and then faux leather. I believe Eastons and Franklins are separated somehow (all Eastons are full leather).

I used to segregate based on what books I had read versus the ones that I had not yet had the pleasure to read, but that generally complicated my system.

On the fourth shelf I have some of my most prized first editions (don’t ask me why they’re on the bottom) and some over sized treasures I had to lay on their side (incl the Divine Comedy in 3 volumes from the ‘60’s with tremendous pictures and Paradise Lost in one large folio volume).

I used to be very particular about books by the same author being together, but since I started collecting different types of editions, it no longer looked very good to do it this way. I have some quirky attributes that are hard to quantify, like grouping a Bible and the DaVinci Code together. I always get a chuckle out of that. At the same time, the Bible is no where near The Koran, primarily due to edition differences.

In general, very little of my books were purchased new and a majority of them are editions that are no longer available new. I’m not a big fan of new books as a general rule, and I would prefer each book had some sort of story or feeling to me. Now, books have a different feeling AFTER you’ve read them, but I like them to have a nice feeling BEFORE as well, because there are quite a few books I haven’t made it to yet.

The other problem I have, is that I don’t like to stack books on their sides. Making matters worse is when you have so many books that you have to hide books behind other ones. I’m not at this point yet, but I’m getting close. Little can really be done about this unless you continue to buy more book shelves.

In the bedroom, my one bookcase has ‘stuff’ on two of the shelves which are not books. Mostly CD’s, picture albums, and course work materials. On the first two shelves are my soft covers, which are split into read and non-read. In addition, one shelf has all my ‘business books’ or ‘popular fiction’ which include things like “No Logo” and “Freakonomics” and “Blink.” The fourth shelf now contains Shakespeare Complete works and some old classic editions.

I almost forgot the best part. The bookshelves themselves are all the same (which was VERY important to me) and I got them for cheaper than IKEA shelves (purchased from Business Depot). They’re made of cherry wood (particle board, really), but they are bevelled outwards in an arch. They have a grey material on the topside of the shelves, which you would think would look tacky… but I think it looks quite nice. They were originally around $150-200 per, but I think I ended up getting a few of them for around $80. The bookcases are about 6 feet tall and probably 4 or 5 feet wide.

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