'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Tidying the Bookshelf

I have a lot of books. Predictably, many of them are arty books, which I mostly keep out in my studio.

About 80% of the others are non-fiction. So they are usually organised by subject.

But the rest: Terry Pratchett, Patrick O'Brian, Lemony Snickett, Leon Uris, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, James Mitchener, James Clavell, Paul Gallico, A.A Milne....paperbacks, etc...
I was at a loss how to organise them.
One year I did them all by size, but that looked weird, and down the small end I kept feeling that I was falling into a black hole (some of my books are very, very tiny). And anyway, I still couldn't necessarily find a book easily. Then: a brainwave! I decided to group by colour. The room looked much more pleasing instead of the hotch-potch patchwork of spines too. At last, via VioletSky's blog, I've found someone else who does it too.

Now if only I could get my books to do it by themselves...


  1. I'm too practical for that. I'd never know where to find anything. Added to which not all my books will fit on all shelves (large to small from bottom to top). Then not having sets together would drive me doolally. Entertaining video though.

  2. How clever!
    I arrange my non fiction in categories so I can find things but size comes into it too. No matter what, I can never just put my hand on the one I want !!!

  3. Wow .. I bet they look great, but how on earth do you ever find anything? What happens when you have a series by the same author and you have to remember what colour the next one is? I can't imagine ... !

    What really annoys me is when an author switches publisher or something, and suddenly the next book is bigger or smaller and won't fit in line properly. Sometimes they won't even fit on the same shelf! GRRR.

    Love the vid. I've seen it before, but it's great, isn't it?

  4. Great idea- saw this, or something very similar, on a friend's blog too and I loved it - and I think it'd work well, I often remembere the spine-colours of books I'm looking for:)
    Mine are ordered by purchase, i.e. last bought getting shoved in on the ends, "new" spaces etc

  5. Here's an idea - revolutionary I know - but how about putting the books in alphabetical order by author surname?

  6. Geeb, Jay I lied, I do have the sets together... to have Terry Pratchett split up would be sacrilege! But it is a hassle when they change the sizes!

    Helsie - Recently I've been moving mine around too much to even remember which bookcase they're in.. either that or it's just my aged forgetfulness creeping on.

    Brian, I think I remember colours better too... until they fade in the sun, or the dust-cover gets tatty and is discarded. Oh, aren't we lucky to have such silly little problems! :-)

    YP Hellooo, you're home? Author name? How sensible!

  7. I would probably tend to arrange them alphabetically by author, or perhaps according to the Dewey Decimal System. My daughter-in-law, an interior decorator, however, did their shelves just the way you did -- by color. Now if my son, her husband, a minister, can only remember what color the book he wanted is....

  8. I think I'd go nuts trying to sort books by colour! Used to libraries since childhood my basic system for fiction is alphabetical by author, and other books by category. Because of limited space, size comes into it as well though. (I even have to use double rows in some shelves.) For some thin and tiny books magazine collectors or boxes can be used.

  9. Robert, Dawn: too true, the Dewy system is the most sensible one.
    Since my enormous number of additions in the last two years, I have no system at all :-(


Spam will go in the incinerator. All other comments are gratefully received. Communication is what makes the world go 'round.