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ABOUT BOOKS AND READING > How do you organize your bookshelves?

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message 1: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 4050 comments For both, here and at home.
In another thread I asked Nina a question of what to classify a certain book, and it dawned on me that people may order their shelves differently. I'm curious as to how everyone organizes their shelves.
Here at goodreads, I organize by genre. It makes searching for a book I've read that much easier. But it's not always easy classifying a book I haven't read yet. I make my best guess to the genre, knowing I can change it later. In smaller genres, I set the button on the bottom to title so it's in alphabetical order. But my the bigger genres, like sci-fi or fantasy, I go by author because many of my books are series, and this keeps them all together.

At home, it's different. I go through a lot of books so mostly I give them away because I believe in 'passing it on'. But I do have books I like to call 'keepers' because they are so good that I'll read them again. In my living room, I have two 5-shelf bookcases, side by side. The tops shelves have pictures, X-men figures, assorted display items.
The second shelves, side by side, are To Read Paperbacks, the third shelves, side by side are To Read Hardcover. The fourth shelves are some Keepers and if I have an overflow of To Read Hardcovers, they go here too. And the bottom ones are my most favorite books of all, set in series by author.
In the Dining Room,a 5-shelf bookcase with Keeper paperbacks. In the spare bedroom, is the Keeper Hardcovers, set by author.
In my bedroom I keep a few reference books, like my Reiki Textbook, Druid Tarot, Animal Oracle, and their respective cards.
How about you? How do you order your shelves? Do you separate into genres...authors...alphabetically?

message 2: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments Good topic, Jackie! I have too many books to put in any one shelf at home. I'm kind of a collector/librarian for the family. We all read a lot of the same books, so I tend to keep a couple of thousand on hand. All are in alphabetical order by author.

In my bedroom, I keep most of the fiction books in a bookshelf I made that covers an entire wall from floor to ceiling, framing the window. They overflow from that into a bookcase that takes up the foot of my bed & older, large series are boxed under my bed. Another box is for trading.

In the living room we have 6 book shelves. One is Paranormal Romance, another YA & the rest are non-fiction/reference with a couple of shelves of hardback fiction & a couple of series of 'nice' books like Lord of the Rings both reading & collector sets. I have the nonfiction broken up into categories; woodworking, biographies, historical & natural studies (tree/plant ID & gardening). Between the fact & fiction, I have the philosophy, religion & mythology book section since it isn't fact or fiction.

The girls have their own books scattered in their rooms with more bookshelves. These are books that are just theirs. Marg has most of the equine books, while Erin has most of the Japanese comics plus they have other books & series that are special to them.

Here on GR, I have books on multiple bookshelves & I frequently don't like how I have them racked, but I can't come up with a better way. 'Historical' can have both 'fact' & 'fiction' in it depending on whether it is a text or not. I changed it a couple of times since I started, but not lately. I have over 1500 books in here now, so it becomes a pain to make changes.

message 3: by Werner (last edited Apr 19, 2009 06:24AM) (new)

Werner Here on Goodreads, I organize my "read" books by genre shelves ("nonfiction" is one whole genre, except that I separate out the poetry, drama and folklore onto their own shelves). Because of the same problem Jackie mentioned, I don't classify books by genre until after I've read them. I also have shelves for "owned-not-read" (which doesn't duplicate the ones on "to-read"), "read-in-condensed-versions," and "started- not-finished."

At home and at my office, I have separate bookcases for nonfiction and fiction, and I pile unread books in stacks on the bottom shelf of the latter. The nonfiction is organized mostly by category; the fiction is organized with multi-author collections first, then individual authors by nationality, and alphabetically within nationalities. (American and British, of course, are the two main nationalities in the collection.)

message 4: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 19, 2009 09:24AM) (new)

/groan/ :) Organization is a wonderful thing, one that is somewhat elusive for me. Heh.
I try to organize somewhat by genre, and within the genre, at least keep the authors together, not in alphabetical order though. Somehow, that just doesn't work for me.
In the upstairs hall, I have three bookshelves with some mystery/detective, and general fiction, and my Star Trek collection, which in my younger years somewhat got out of hand. The downstairs hall has 5 large and 2 small bookshelves that are somewhat organized, some fictional and non-fictional history, some of my great-grandfather's books, he was quite a history and poetry buff, and general literature, oh and one of the bookcases is devoted to herbal, health, and gardening books.

I converted a hall closet to bookshelves floor to ceiling and that holds some of everything, a section of detective/mysteries, an Oriental section, a science fiction section, and more general, "I'll get to them someday" section. :)
Here in the small study there are 4 built in ceiling to floor bookshelves that hold some of my Aunt's books, mostly natural healing, and gardening and art books, and of course more mysteries, a large section of Lawrence Block, and a few more general history. I also have 5 shorter bookshelves in here that hold my Nabokov, Banville, and westerns. Also some more detective stories. One shelf is Henning Mankell.

I wish I could organize them all into one room, but I don't see that happening, at least in this house. Someday perhaps. :)

I don't list my books on Good Reads anymore, I've used Library Thing for several years now and have about 2/3rds of them listed there. I've only about 1/3rd of them on GR. No organization there, only read and not read...well a few ones I've dumped. :) I couldn't keep on listing on both sites, it was just too much trouble. Plus, I found GR didn't have a number of my books in it's memory banks [or whatever it is:], and I'd have to list them manually. I only occasionally have that problem on Library Thing.

Oddly enough I can usually find a wanted book right away, I'll know more or less where it is, on which shelf.

message 5: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Whew! I just found this topic! Give me some time to read all the comments. I'll be back. Interesting topic!

message 6: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 4050 comments Jim, that's a lot of book. When I was younger I collected them, but I'd need another house just for them. Then I started to pass them on or give them to the library. Well, now I know where to send my old books. Old books never die, they go to Jim's house, LOL

Werner, nationality, very interesting. I have a 'fiction' shelf here, that's where I generally put books I'm not sure of, until I find it's niche. Like you I find 'fiction' too broad and have to make other shelves.

Pontalba, I wish I could organize them all into one room, I'd really like to have a library type room, something very large with floor to ceiling shelves on all the walls. If that every happens, then I can keep more books. It's hard for me, with limited space, that sometimes I get rid of books I really would like to keep. I have an aversion to clutter so if something doesn't have it's own place, I have to get rid of it. And I can't truly list all the books I've read here because I don't have them anymore and I can't remember them now. I've read a ton of my father's history books but don't remember their names. Mostly I put recent books here at goodreads, the ones I can remember at least.

It's been very interesting learning how everyone orders their shelves. And how many books you all have!

message 7: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments Actually, I slim my collection down occasionally for one reason or another. We've moved every 8 years since we've been married, so that's been a good excuse. If we haven't re-read a book in several years, I get rid of it. About a thousand books went to the library plus a few hundred to my son who stayed in MD. I collect more until I run out of room & then clean out some more.

My reading tastes have changed somewhat over the years. There are some staples, though. Edgar Rice Burroughs is in a box under the bed, for instance. Many of those were my father's & there are a LOT. I really don't read them often any more. About once a year, I'll get a hankering to read one & I'll pull it out. Most have been with me for about 40 years, so I know them initmately. No need to display or list them. I KNOW them.

message 8: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments Pontalba wrote: "/groan/ :) Organization is a wonderful thing, one that is somewhat elusive for me. Heh...."

Consistency is the bug-a-boo of small minds. Sounds like you have a 'greater' system that works for you. I too have a lot of exceptions to my 'rules'. For instance, programming books, collection books & others have their own stashes near where they are needed. There are other exceptions for 'pretty' or 'browsing' books. I can almost always put my hand on any book without searching, that's what counts.

message 9: by Werner (new)

Werner Jackie, I guess I got the nationality idea (for my real-life shelves) from my library background. In the Library of Congress cataloging system that we use in the college library here, the Languages and Literature section is subdivided by nationality. (Actually, I only use that arrangement at my office; the fiction shelves at home are grouped by genre, then alphabetically. My wife finds that set-up more convenient.) On my Goodreads shelves, I should also mention that some fiction books are on more than one shelf. For instance, "classics" includes older books, some of which also fit in on various genre shelves. And some collections of short stories are listed in various genres, because they include different kinds of stories.

Jim, my wife also has some (two) bookcases of her own, upstairs. That's where she keeps her voluminous collection of paperback romances, which we don't have room for in the regular shelves downstairs. :-) We do shelve her many Westerns downstairs, though!

message 10: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 4050 comments I have books belonging to different shelves here too. Using virtual shelves enables us to have that option.
This discussion inspired me to do something about my 'non-fiction' shelf so I added a few new shelves such as science, philosophy, biography, music etc.
I like having this kind of order.

message 11: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments I always have so much trouble deciding if something is SF, Fantasy, Thriller, Action, Mystery or whatever that I just lumped them into fiction. After seeing some of the discussions on GR about what is Fantasy or SF, I'm not surprised I have the trouble I do. Besides, I like to keep author's works together & some, like Roger Zelazny, write books that defy definition in traditional genres. Others, like Isaac Asimov write all kinds of genres.

message 12: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 4050 comments I know. It can drive a person crazy, LOL

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Jim wrote: For instance, programming books, collection books & others have their own stashes near where they are needed.

Good point about having books where needed. I have a couple shelves of cook books in the kitchen. What would be the use of having them in the study? :)

I too hate to divvy up an author's work, genre or no. They should be together, to my mind.

I rarely cull my books, although I have given away some over the years of authors I no longer wish to read for whatever reason. Tastes do change, but I've kept some for the sake of sentiment.

message 14: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Apr 19, 2009 08:35PM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Since I get all my books from the library, I don't have much of a personal collection. I do have some shelves of books. They include books of quotations which is sort of a hobby with me. I also have shelves of miscellaneous books which are special to me, arranged in no special way.

I do have loose-leaf notebooks filled with my hand-copied passages and quotes from books I've read over the years. They're separated into fiction, non-fiction, romance, and mystery, more or less. They take up a few shelves. Eddie computerized each book title with the name of the author and indicated which notebook the notes are in. The list is alphabetical according to author.

I like my Goodreads bookshelves because they can be alternately sorted in so many ways. It would be too time consuming to go back and enter all the books I've ever read. So I'd say that my bookshelves are representative of the type of reading I've done.

My piano sheet music is the most organized material I have. Eddie went through all my sheet music and sheet music books and computerized each song. So I have a computerized alphabetized list which is referenced to numbered material. The music is arranged by numbers which we've assigned to the books and sheet music. It's hard to explain. Some of my sheet music belonged to my mom. So it's probably in the collectible category now. I keep books pertaining to music in a cabinet with my sheet music collection.

I also have shelves of numbered photograph albums filled with pictures from my past. But now with digital photos taking over, I've stopped keeping albums of hard copies, except for a few special photos.

I'm impressed with the volume of books you folks own.

PS-I gave away some of my favorite books and have regretted it ever since.

message 15: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 4050 comments I've given away favorites in the past and regretted it. I still do it once in a while, if I feel the person who wants it would really enjoy it. But for the most part, I try to keep my favorites. I enjoy re-reading some books. What I really would like is more room so I can keep more.
You've got a lot of material too, Joy. Do you play the piano? If so, what? And I want to say, your Eddie is cool.

message 16: by Werner (new)

Werner Pontalba, I'm like you --I want our cookbooks kept in the kitchen! When we moved into this house in 1999, we redid the kitchen, and a shelf for the cookbooks was one thing I insisted on adding (actually, it's a unit of two small shelves); so that's where they are. (I usually don't think of them as "books" --although they are!-- because I don't sit down and read them as such, so that's why I didn't think to mention them sooner.)

message 17: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 4050 comments The cookbooks in the kitchen is a good idea, mine are in the dining room and I never use them. I don't have a place to put a shelf but I'm sure I can find somewhere to put them in the kitchen.

message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

I have to laugh Werner, I read the cookbooks more than use them. :) They are so beautifully laid out, with the most delicious looking pictures. I'm a sucker for a cookbook with great pictures, but I cook very simply and don't go in for the complex recipes.

Joy and Jackie, I rarely give away books, as I mentioned, only when for whatever reason I 'go off' an author. Sometimes I'll buy an extra copy of a well-loved book to give to someone, but that's about it. But I suppose that only proves that I am, at heart, a pack rat, just like the rest of my family. lol

message 19: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments We have 1 cookbook, "The Settlement Cookbook" & an index card file with other recipes. Marg has a very delicate stomach & neither of us has much interest in cooking.

That really sounds sad when I hear Werner has 2 shelves full & everyone seems to have more. Oh well, somehow I'm managing to get fatter anyway...

message 20: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Jan 23, 2012 06:18PM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments (Jackie, Jim, Werner, & Pontalba: I LOVE this conversation!)

I don't cook but Eddie does. I gave away a nice cookbook and regret it, especially when I read how you all value your cookbooks. I do have one favorite cookbook with lots of loose scraps of recipes stuck in it. I also have all my MIL's old cook books, cook-cards and "scraps". They're in a box in the garage. She was such a great cook!

I'm a pack-rat but not with books as much as with other personal memorabilia... and lots of treasured tchotchkes. :) That's me. Most of my stuff is well organized, but to some folks it might look like clutter.
From "House and Garden" Magazine, circa 1973 -
"Early American Home", Article by Billy Baldwin:
"...a great deal of wonderful clutter - all of it carefully ordered and intimately meaningful to the homemaker. She cares little about the intrinsic value of any of her possessions as long as it's something she loves."

To answer Jackie's question, yes, I do play the piano but only for my own pleasure. I used to be able to play Chopin's "Minute Waltz", but lack of practice has caused me to lose much of my skill. I took only 4 years of lessons from the age of 9 to 13. In my 20s I started taking lessons again, but never got much further in my skill.

I absolutely adore piano music. I do play classical music but mostly I play the old songs: Victor Herbert, songs from the '20s and '40s, and pop songs too. I used to sing along with myself. :)

As a kid I enjoyed using my grandmother's player piano in Brooklyn, NY. I was raised playing a beautiful baby grand piano which my sister inherited.

Now we have a Yamaha upright called a Disklavier. It's a regular acoustic piano, but is also player piano. As a player piano, it uses floppy disks, which are now "old-fashioned" and have been replaced by CDs in the newer Disklavier models.

Alas, I don't play piano as much as I'd like. I keep my favorite sheet music books out and handy, just in case the mood strikes me. When my kids and grandkids come, they play and it makes me happy to know they're carrying on the tradition.
"Music will give you strength...
It will be your best friend in life."

From the book: _The Children of Willesden Lane_,
"A memoir of music, love and survival", by Mona Golabek *
* LINK: The Children of Willesden Lane Beyond the Kindertransport A Memoir of Music, Love, and Survival (by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen)
"Hold onto your music. It will be your best friend in life."
-Heard on VPR Radio, 5/9/03 - The quote was included in the promo for 'Performance Today.' Pianist /author, Mona Golabek, said it was advice given by her grandmother to her mother.

message 21: by Jackie (last edited Apr 20, 2009 09:50AM) (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 4050 comments I wish I had taken an interesting learning how to play an instrument when I was younger. My dad played the sax and my grandfather played the violin. I love both of those instruments. My sister has the violin and it needs new strings. She wants to learn how to play. My son taught himself how to play piano from videos, not sure where the vids were from, youtube maybe??? His GF bought him keyboards for Xmas last year. I'm thriled that Eric knows how to play an instrument.

message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh, man, I wish I'd learned too, I have my grandfather's mandolin and 5 string guitar, sitting there useless and unplayed. Ratz. I keep saying I'm going to at least hang them on the wall, but haven't so far.

message 23: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments I tried to play the guitar, but quickly found that I have a tin ear & no sense of rhythm. Such a shame since I really enjoyed it. I tortured people for a while, but after a saw went through my hand, even that pleasure ceased. I guess I could have learned to play left handed, but it didn't seem worth it. No one has complained, so I guess I was right.

message 24: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 75 comments My dad was a club date musician, a "side man", for years, playing clarinet and alto sax, and I studied piano for nine years as a kid - I kind of let it go when I went to college, and played only sporadically after that as and when, mainly show tunes and standards. I hadn't had a piano in my house since I was growing up, and then for my last birthday my family got together and gave me one - I think they were tired of hearing me say year after year that I was going to get one for myself and then not doing it! It's been hard work but incredibly satisfying to dig back into the classical repertoire I was working on when I stopped playing, and to feel that combination of brain activities come back on line. There was one day recently when I was working on a Mozart sonata that something actually seemed to turn over in my head, a physical sensation, and immediately it was 100% easier, as if some large bloc of synapses had suddenly reactivated itself. I'm finding that now I'm much more interested in playing the classics, they give back such a lot - but they ask for it too. Mozart and Bach, at least to me, ask for your intellect; Chopin and Schubert ask for your heart; and Beethoven -- the Big Man asks for your soul. Beethoven is bigger than I am, which makes him a real challenge, but oh so thrilling in those moments when just for eight bars or sixteen bars I'm suddenly in his head, or he's in mine, and I know what he meant! And then it's gone, and I'm scaling the mountain again, but I'm hoping that if I keep working those moments of transcendent connection will get longer and more frequent! Practice practice practice...

message 25: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 4050 comments This is so interesting, all these familial music abilities. I guess that's what people did before TV and internet. LOL

message 26: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Apr 21, 2009 07:45AM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Margaret wrote: "Mozart and Bach, at least to me, ask for your intellect; Chopin and Schubert ask for your heart; and Beethoven -- the Big Man asks for your soul."

Margaret, I love the way you put that! Chopin is my favorite. He wrote solely for the piano, my favorite instrument. His music can bring tears to my eyes. Yes, he asks for your heart. I have a bust of him which sat on our piano for years. He has now ended up in our bedroom... having been crowded off the piano by family pictures. :)

Pontalba, you've reminded me that somewhere in our house there should be two ukeleles, a small one and one a bit larger. How could I have let those get lost? We also had a 4 string guitar! Where is it? We haven't thought about those in years! Shame on us.

Jim wrote: "I have a tin ear & no sense of rhythm."
Jim, you have enough other talents. Don't be greedy. (lol)

Jackie, how nice that your sister has your grandfather's violin! As Pontalba suggested, if we don't play these intruments, we could at least hang them on the wall! I wish I had hung my uke on the wall. At least I would know where it is!

message 27: by Catamorandi (new)

Catamorandi (wwwgoodreadscomprofilerandi) I want to learn how to play the violin so badly. I still think that I just might do it, even though I am 56. People keep telling me that I'm never too old to learn how to play a musical instrument.

message 28: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments My son, who is now 26, is teaching himself the violin. He played the clarinet as a kid. He has an ear for music & seems to be doing quite well.

message 29: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Perpendicularandi wrote: "I want to learn how to play the violin so badly. I still think that I just might do it, even though I am 56. People keep telling me that I'm never too old to learn how to play a musical instrument."

Randi, that's correct. You're never too old to learn to play an instrument. It's the motivation that counts. If you have enough motivation, you can do it.

My mom had a friend who took piano lessons when she was in her forties. It was through her that we found a music teacher (her music teacher) who would come to our house and give me lessons for one dollar a lesson. I'm getting nostalgic thinking about those days. I think her name was Miss Brady, but can't be sure.

I'm disappointed that I can't remember the name of that white-haired old lady who travelled to our house on a trolley to give me piano lessons. We couldn't afford much more than a dollar for lessons in those days (the 1940s). Now my grandkids take lessons which cost $25 for a half hour. To think my mom paid one dollar for an hour's lesson. Those were the days.

message 30: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jim wrote: "My son, who is now 26, is teaching himself the violin. He played the clarinet as a kid. He has an ear for music & seems to be doing quite well. "

That's so great, Jim. The violin is a difficult instrument to learn to play, from what I've heard.

I tried to learn to play the guitar, but my finger-tips hurt and I didn't plug at it long enough to develop the necessary callouses on my fingertips.

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