Last week I had a whinge about one of my most favourite topics – money. Well, the work / life; freedom / security balance thing. In that post I talked about the fact my priorities had changed. Indeed, I said I needed a new pair of shoes to replace the holey shoes I’d worn to work, you know… having trudged miles and miles through metres of snow to my job in the coal mine (one of four jobs I have in order to feed my 15 children).
However, I realised that I’d prefer to buy a much-needed bookshelf than shoes. Or clothes.
And – amazingly – after writing the post I called into a second hand store on my way home from work and … voila! A new (used) almost-matching bookshelf for only $20.
And yes, let’s not think about why I didn’t do that in the many many months prior during which I moaned about my bookshelf situation!
Naturally the addition of a fourth bookshelf required some rearrangement. Not just within my tiny loungeroom but of the books themselves.
I’ve never really thought too much about ‘how’ I arranged my books. However… I will confess – when I made my seachange and shelved my books from scratch – I did (ahem) alphabetise them by author. If that makes me a tad anal, then fine! Previously I just had my faves on the more visible shelves and everything else on lower shelves.
I was reminded that a couple of weekends ago I saw this and almost snorted vanilla diet coke out of my nose: a bookshelf sorted by colour. Yes, really!
So… it got me pondering on the idea that – the way we arrange our books may indeed be a reflection of the sort of people we are.
Naturally I decided to put my undergraduate psychology studies to good use and provide a bit of a guide for everyone playing at home.
1. Sorted by spine colour
The bookshelves and room in the photograph above are all very pretty, but…. sorting books by cover (or spine) colour: A FRIGGIN’ SACRILEGE!
Surely this is only adopted by those more concerned with aesthetics above everything else. Style over substance and a sign of excessive frivolity. #Pfft (NB. These people are also prone to display coffee table books featuring famous designers and picturesque locales.)
2. Sorted by size
Sorting one’s books by size only makes sense if your shelves are of varying height. Given that most bookshelves nowadays feature adjustable shelves there can be no justification for this – other than needing to put so-called coffee table books – at the bottom, out of the way where they belong. Sorting by size is not quite as bad as sorting by colour but reflects a need for consistency and an obsessive nature often associated by those with OCD.
3. Alphabetised by Title
One word for this approach… WHY? It makes no sense at all and is most certainly adopted by the nonsensical or brainless. You should apologise to the world at large for your lack of common sense and logic.
4. Sorted by extent of social acceptability
I will confess that I used to sort my books in this manner. My favourite books (or more honestly, the more socially acceptable of books – ie. nothing by James Patterson et al*) on the top more-visible shelves. And the trashier (or less “Literary” with a capital “L”) books on lower shelves. That way visitors only see the impressive stuff and will think you far better-read and more evolved than you really are. (NB. You might want to ensure you have some Dostoyeskvsy and the like for show only – after all… does anyone actually read that crap!?) 😉 Some Booker Prize winners should also do the trick!
I’m stating the bleeding obvious here but these bookshelves are featured in the homes of social climbers and those overly concerned with the thoughts and opinions of others.
5. Sorted by subject matter or genre
Part of me is able to accept this approach. After all, libraries adopt this approach for non-fiction… however then you’re faced with the question: WITHIN that genre or subject, how do you sort your books? And then there’s the question of deciding on a genre. Self help vs new age therapy? Thriller vs Mystery? #Argh! Too. Many. Decisions.
As a result, this type of book organisation is favoured by those who are incredibly decisive. Perhaps even too much so and they can be a tad judgemental.
6. Alphabetised by Author
Of course if you have a vast array of books you are required to remember the author’s name when searching for a particular book, but there’s a reason libraries sort their fiction by author…. it’s the sensible approach. And – if *some* people think it’s a tad anal for small home libraries to be sorted thus – well… hmph!
Those whose books (or CDs for that matter) are organised thus are usually logical, pragmatic and intelligent types, less impressed by aesthetics and trends – instead demonstrating discerning and superior taste.
7. Sort, schmort! (Addendum)
I’ve been forced into a late addition – a group of those which I’d denied existed: THOSE WHO DO NOT SORT OR ARRANGE THEIR BOOKCASE IN ANY PARTICULAR ORDER. #argh!
I *may* have been guilty of this during my foray into category 4. Although I’d organise the more visible of books – those at eye-level – I cared little about what went below.
It goes without saying that the owners of such bookshelves are in possession of messy minds. Or have pesky family members who haven’t been trained to return books to the right spot. Or… are too busy to give a shit where their books go. You know, #whatevs.
So there you have it. Although this checklist, survey thingy may be as scientifically rigorous as the “Does he love me?” questionnaires in women’s magazines, I’d suggest you take it with a grain of salt. I do however have incredible insight into human nature – akin to Patrick Jane in The Mentalist – so I’m fairly sure I’m right!
How do you sort your books?
What does your bookshelf say about you?
* Thankfully I got rid of my Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson, Maeve Binchy and John Grisham novels in a cathartic cleanse before my seachange.
Joining the LaughLinkUp gang again today.