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books, books, and more books! > Goodreads Bookshelves: An Existential Journey

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message 1: by Angie (new)

Angie (angabel) When I signed up to goodreads, I swore I was only going to have year shelves, upon which I listed the books I read that year.

At some point I realized that my list would be misleading. It's obvious I have a strong interest in South Asia, Buddhism, and feminism, but apparently I am also Italian-American. (I'm sure my Irish relatives would be happy to hear this.)

Thus, in addition to year shelves, I created shelves like "university" for the books I read for a class or books I read about my university. (And one day, one of my books listed as part of my Goodreads Author profile will be a book on the Women of my university.)

My "university" shelf is full of Italian-American books, short story collections, and non-fiction books, with the odd Russian fairy tale anthology here and there.

Then I decided that it might be beneficial to add an "Indian authors" bookshelf so I could easily access it and push myself to read more.

Well goodness, while I was at it, I added a "Buddhism" and a "feminism" shelf. And then I added a "Tibet" shelf for non-Buddhist books on Tibet. And then I was stuck with what to do with books about Tibetan Buddhism: obviously they go on the Buddhism shelf, but do they belong on the Tibet shelf? What if the author is a Western ani-la? Should the Tibet shelf be non-Buddhism books, or Buddhism books with a heavy-handful of discussion about Tibet, in particular? And where am I going to put Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche's book? It's about Tibetan Buddhism, and he's recognized as an incarnate of a Tibetan lama, but he's actually Bhutanese. (!)

"Reference" was self-explanatory. Technically I use most of my books as self-help reference guides, but I decided just to put actual reference books on the "reference" shelf. "Short stories," "signed books," "young adult", and the ever-amazing "won't read again" shelf all make sense.

The "won't read again" shelf is something that my mother probably would wish she had back when she picked up a copy of Gilead from the floor of my bedroom when I was living in India. I could have told her it was a horrible, atrocious book, and saved her the trouble of reading it. Our tastes are similar enough that if I feel strong dislike for a book, she'll usually share it, although if she "just likes" something, I'll usually not care for it at all. (She's a non-bookstore book buyer, which means her options for "good" books are limited.)

So I finished another book today and thought, 'I should have a "non-fiction" shelf.' I'm thinking of getting my master's in creative non-fiction, so I created a "creative non-fiction" shelf before realizing that no one really knows what that means, and that could be anything. Memoirs... okay, definitely. But what about books that strive to be completely non-fiction, with no creative liberties taken? If I put them on the "creative non-fiction" shelf, are people going to think that I have my doubts about their non-fictionish? And what about books that I do have doubts about?

So I created a non-fiction shelf, and was faced with the same problem as the "Tibetan Buddhism" lack of shelf. Quite simply, if something is Buddhism, it's non-fiction, right? I mean, non-fiction is just the opposite of fiction. Crap, what would that make poetry, then? Technically, one could make a very good case that "Native Guard" is creative non-fiction: she's writing poetry about the death of her mother in between poems about the Louisana Native Guard. Shit, it's practically historical fiction as well!

Please tell me I am not the only one who has suffered such an existential crisis when it comes to your bookshelves.

message 2: by Mandee (new)

Mandee (amandalinajanel) | 378 comments LOL :D! I don't stress about my bookshelves at all, but reading your thoughts on it is a riot!! I label my bookshelves for myself. I hadn't really given a lot of thought about what others might think of my shelves. Now I kind of feel self conscious about it: what will they think of the goofy labels I made?? or that a lot of the reading I've added is not very serious? Oh well.. I guess I just don't care about mine enough :P ...but I LOVED reading about your "crisis" :)!!

message 3: by Kelsey (new)

Kelsey (xtoloveistolivex) | 534 comments Haha! I love it. I've definitely gone through that, and I still come across books that I think "Well...technically I suppose it's this genre, but not I have to create another bookshelf?" I also wish I was more creative with the titles of my yeah. I think about it much more than I really should. Haha.

message 4: by Jessie (new)

Jessie (Jessie08) | 128 comments I guess I'm a bit lazy, I haven't created any bookshelves. I just use the three that Goodreads provides, Read, Currently Reading and To Read. After reading about dilema (of which I found quite humorous) I think I'll keep my bookshelves as they are to avoid a crisis like yours.

Lady Pestilence (nozomiviridae) My shelves are as broad as you can get. "Favorite," "own," and "manga" are obvious, and then I use singular words like "werewolf," "wolf," "vampire," "dragon," and "zombie." I pretty much throw any dystopian, anti-utopian, apocalyptic, and post-apocalyptic literature in "dystopia" and "sixties" is for books about the 1960s, or written in the 1960s with strong influence on what was going on then. "Japan" is for books written by Japanese authors that aren't manga, and books that are about Japan.

message 6: by Lori (new)

Lori Walker I need to do some work on my shelves...

Michelle (In Libris Veritas) (shadowrose) I have pretty normal ones, and my slight organizational OCD factor won't allow me to do the goofy or cute ones with out getting really annoyed later on. I have the obvious "graphic novels", "manga", "historical-reference", "non-historical reference" and then I have the singular ones like "first-reads", "vampires" etc.

message 8: by R (new)

R (feste) This is precisely why I haven't created any personal shelves yet, other than a year shelf for 2009. I did try doing some shelf organization some time ago, but eventually I ended up with loads of cross-referenced titles and shelves containing only one book in them. Ultimately I got frustrated and gave up. :/

message 9: by April (new)

April (booksandwine) I have a lot of shelves, 32 to be exact. When I add a book TBR, I typically put it on all applicable shelves at the time. I also like to see all of my shelves in the cloud function.

message 10: by Emily (new)

Emily mine are kind of by genre/age. picture books,easy reader, childrens chpt books, ya, adult fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, a shelf for the ones i couldn't finish and then an "other" shelf for ones that dont fit any of the categories. Pretty simple? I was going to try to split things up with like fantasy, realistic fiction ect....but that is just too confusing bc there are a lot of books that combine genres.

message 11: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly (kimberlywithat) | 2140 comments At first I only used the shelves that GR has. But then I realized that I had a growing number of books that I owned but had not yet read so I added a shelf that is books I own and need to read (or something like that, I'm too lazy to check.) So that I can keep track of which books I need to read next. Then I added "required reading", so that I can keep track of books I've had to read for school.

message 12: by Kimberly (last edited Nov 09, 2009 12:57PM) (new)

Kimberly (kimberlywithat) | 2140 comments Nozomi, I may have to check out your Japan shelf. Japanese culture fascinates me, I'd like to find a good book about it so I can learn more. Or maybe you could recommend one?

message 13: by Emily (new)

Emily  O (readingwhilefemale) | 487 comments First, I do not put all of my books on bookshelves (other than the obvious "read" shelf).
Secondly, I have no qualms about having a book on multiple shelves. I have some that are on three or four shelves, just because they fit all the categories.
I do mine mostly by genre, but only for groups of books that stand out form the usual books that I read. Most of my books are not on shelves for that reason.
Here are the shelves I use, and why:

Short Story: Here I put short story anthologies, of which I've read quite a few. They are different from most other books (obviously) so I think they deserve their own shelf.

Non-fiction: I almost never read non-fiction, so they are pretty special when I do. That's a pretty small shelf, but good for organizational purposes.

Classics: This is pretty self-explanatory. I use this shelf partially to motivate me to read more classics.

Sci-fi: I'm trying to get into the really good literary sci-fi more and I like to be able to keep track of what kinds of sci-fi I like or dislike and how my progress is going.

Young-Adult: I try not to read too much YA compared to my total reading volume, so this is just to keep track of pleasure reads and books that I loved when I was younger.

Fall/Winter Challenge 2009: This is exactly what it sounds like. This is just a way for me to keep track of all the books I'm supposed to be reading for the Challenge. I'll be doing this for all of the challenges I participate in.

Thought Provoking: These books are the kind that make you think about the world/yourself/life. I made this category so I would be able to quickly find and list books that I found meaningful or interesting.

Terrible Books: Again, it's exactly what it sounds like. This is a shelf for books that I wish I hadn't read because they were so bad that they just weren't worth the time.

All Time Favorite Books: There are only two books in here, but if I only had to read two books forever, these would be them. They have to be the desert island type book to make it on this shelf.

I'm also thinking of adding a shelf for things I had to read for school, just because. And maybe another for all the books that are specifically on my Zero Day Project list. I think I might start making more shelves now that I've read this thread. It could be fun to have all my stuff organized.

message 14: by Emily (new)

Emily  O (readingwhilefemale) | 487 comments I just added Fantasy-Horror, Dystopia, and School.

message 15: by Darryl (new)

Darryl I think I'm going to add bookshelves at some point or another, but in my own words. I think I'll start with a blorgrava shelf. that's a word that's my own.


message 16: by Jen (new)

Jen (wishesandwanderlust) | 696 comments I added: library, memoir, nonfiction, own and school shelves. I also may add a young adult shelf. Decisions, decisions.

message 17: by Leanna (new)

Leanna (leannerd) | 46 comments Hmm. I haven't done any personal shelves, aside from a wish list (strictly for my family/friends who don't know what to get me for Christmas), but making a year shelf sounds like a good idea. I will probably do that for 2010.

message 18: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rmtb) | 62 comments Yeah I find creating bookshelves really tricky... some are easy, such as non-fiction (although I decided to stop putting cookbooks in there because there were just so many!). But then I have concept-based ones that are due to how I felt about a book, ones like 'sea songs', 'monks and nuns' and 'weird or annoying'. And then what actually goes on my 17th century shelf? Books written then, non-fiction about that century, historical fiction set then? I've just ended up including all three...

So basically, my shelves probably only make sense to me!

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