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Searching For My Books

A Small Part Of Nick's Sci-Fi Collection

In high school, college and graduate school, the shelves held my books first by binding and then by height. Sense memory guided me to the location of each book.

More books came. I attempted organization by genre. But, does a book on Louis Armstrong fall under Music or New Orleans? Hmmm. Back to organizing by height.

Then the publishing companies decided to increase the size of paperbacks to justify charging more for them and completely screwed up my filing system. These books are paperbacks with some as large as hardbacks.

[You’ve probably figured out by now I have OCD issues.]

I’ll work something out, but for now, small paperbacks are organized by author’s last name and the larger paperbacks and hardbacks by height in (vague) genre. Furthermore, thanks to this house’s built-in bookshelves, my books are in four different rooms on two separate floors, which makes searching for a book a workout.

How do you organize your books?

7 comments… add one
  • Blair September 6, 2010, 1:45 PM


  • just jon September 6, 2010, 4:51 PM

    I would go by color. Seriously, though, mostly by vague genre and size within genre, to some extent. But, overall, like Blair, haphazardly.

  • Silver Fox September 6, 2010, 5:32 PM

    I like to sort by broad category or subject, and have been known to put all fiction in alphabetical order.

  • liprap September 6, 2010, 10:38 PM

    We’ve got all the Judaica books in one bookcase, more or less. It’s kind of a free-for-all after that.

  • Louise September 7, 2010, 10:28 AM

    Subject (food, booze, baseball, saucy women, etc.), then height. The exception is our tiny fiction section: alpha. I hear ya re: the heights of the fiction then looking messy.

  • Pistolette September 7, 2010, 1:12 PM

    Mmmm, organizing. Purrrrrrrr. You had to ask. Now you’ve done it ;)

    I think it depends what types of books you collect. Most people don’t collect in the percentages reflective of a library or bookstore, so those systems don’t work for home use to me. I’m sure you collect more of one topic than others, at least to some extent. Personally, my largest collection is politics – pol theory, pol history, pol economics, and pol philosophy, so I have a few bookcases for those, which I organize by region, then nation (ie: Latin Am politics, Russian politics, US regional/state politics). I never do alphabetical (except for fiction) because I can rarely remember the names of non-fiction authors, but I always remember the topic or title I’m looking for. After that I have a large New Orleans/Louisiana section where I put ANY topic related to it like politics, environment issues, music, history, literature, etc in it. This just makes things easier for me personally, since I refer to that bookcase more than any other. The rest take up to a whole bookcase or one shelf, depending. There’s an elec engineering/general sciences section (for Q), travel/languages section (org’d by country or language), literature/fiction section (org’d by author), history/philosophy section, a small reference/how-to/DIY section, and a bunch of smaller sections I cram together.

    So yeah, I’d start with your biggest collection and work your way down.

    No, I don’t have OCD, really ;-)

  • John Valentino September 8, 2010, 12:00 PM

    Organization by genre is key. When I am looking for something I am usually involved in a project or discussion dealing with a specific topic within a genre. So If I am talking about art I go to the living room shelves. Theory, philosophy and travel are the dining room shelves. Science fiction and fiction, the extra bedroom/office shelves. Reference or great books, the shelf behind the couch. Then there is my office at the University………..

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