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More books unboxed and sorted! (The lovely ms_kilian is reponsible for the latest flurry of activity, and I suspect only one more volunteer session will be needed for the books to be done).

It's amazing how much seeing my books again lifts my spirits. I have some interesting stuff on my shelves, it's good to browse again.


Of course, I can tangle myself up no end when I try and sort out non-fiction categories. So I do. Endlessly.

Shall I start with my issues around "biography" as a category, compared to the anonymous case study or often anonymous biographies of people that are anonymous because they are members of an oppressed group and therefore not considered worthy of a name? Or how anthropology becomes a problematic category and stuff should be placed in history as an acknowledgement of the inherently oppressive discipline of anthropology in it's concept about the 'other', compared to the right of the 'other' to have the status of something that is not a static entity?

And hey, when is it politics and not history? As soon as I got old enough to see that stuff I thought of as current was also a part of the ongoing process of history, this became a problem.

And curse the history lecturer who once pointed out that everything in the entire world has a history, so yay! for the discipline of history. Even history has a history, but you'll be pleased to know I have no problem picking which books come under historiography. (Well let's face it: "What Is History" is a bit of giveaway title.) On the plus side, it means everything can go under history, which would make things a lot quicker.

And I wonder if the works of some authors should be kept together as one collection, regardless of whether a particular work is fiction or non-fiction. Gita Mehta is a good example of such a writer.

And I guess this endless pondering is why I am okay about owning too many bloody books. It's like jumbling up the artwork occasionally, or the music you listen to. You think about things anew when the context is different.



( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 22nd, 2013 07:36 am (UTC)
But are you going to use the Dewey Decimal System, or the National Library of Science one? This is an important question!

I think politics and history are basically the same thing. As is biography and autobiography. And letters are just primary sources, really...
Mar. 22nd, 2013 07:53 am (UTC)
Well, neither because they are both wrong.

Or at least, they might be.

Your further ponderings are not helping. Bad you!

My gardening section was expanded to include random stuff like the book on termite mounds of the Northern Territory. But should I expand it further to include a fascinating recent collection of essays on the history of gardens in Australia?

Other "how to" books are either art and craft books, which have a section, and then the miscellaneous "how to"'s, which currently includes bicycle maintenance and the art of sensual massage. (I like that these two are together, so that one's fixed.)

But this of course begs the question of where I put the social work "how to"s, and sex therapy. Maybe I should put them there as well.
Mar. 22nd, 2013 08:17 am (UTC)
I'm sure I was helping! I used to be a Library Assistant, so I am *definitely* capable of being extra helpful in these matters!

Personally, I think essays on the history of gardens go with gardening books. But you could always tear the book carefully in two, and put half in the garden section and the other half in the history section. Then you should take the covers and fold them into little origami waterlilies for decoration. I think this is the most sensible and equitable solution.

As for your how to books, I'm really interested in the one about bicycle maintenance and the art of sensual massage. I wouldn't have thought those two topics combined, but now you have pointed it out to me, the connection is obvious.

(please don't disillusion me by telling me that they are separate books. My heart is now set on that title.)

Can you tell I haven't had enough sleep this fortnight?
Mar. 22nd, 2013 09:08 am (UTC)
Obvious solution to ALL your book problems: Sort them by height.

Extra bonus: Comfier for cats to sit on the bookshelf.

Sneaky tip: Align spines of books with the FRONT of the bookshelf to minimise tricky bits needing to be dusted!

(I sort mine totally at random, honestly. There is a touch of sorting that I prefer but lately it's been totally FUBAR because random people have shelved my books, so even *I* don't know where things are!)
Mar. 22nd, 2013 09:31 am (UTC)
Funny you should suggest that! I was also wondering about doing them by colour.

Oooh - how about typeface?

After several years of illness, my nonfiction had been moved about so often by people-other-than-me that I despaired of finding anything ever again.

The only thing I could be certain of was that after a certain point, books could be traced by time of acquisition. But even then, only in relation to the last re-jumble, which would have been bought on by a shifting of furniture.

Of course, that's not a bad system either...

Incidentally, I own more books than you.

Mar. 22nd, 2013 10:47 am (UTC)
I know what you're like - I was trying to think of the simplest possible filing system that others could implement, hence height. Colour can be subjective!!

And yes you probably have 100x as many books as me :/
Mar. 23rd, 2013 01:31 am (UTC)

You got me!
Mar. 22nd, 2013 11:44 am (UTC)
I am super grateful (yet again) to the fellow OCD sufferer who sorted our books for us when we unpacked.

As a teenager, I "experimented" with those wacky "alternative" sorting methods; it helped that I only had about 6 meters of books I was sorting. By color worked pretty well for me for paperbacks since I tend to remember the covers, but that failed after we moved to the UK and ended up with some UK and some US covers and I couldn't remember where and then there were reprints with new covers and it didn't work any more. I will also admit that I even invented a sort system which was something like sub-genre followed by how much I liked it. I don't quite remember the system sadly, but I still have a few paperbacks with mystery numbers in them.

I need to institute a proper "to read" shelf, because if I file things in the usual way I never find the new books or the book Kai keeps telling me I should read. But that's usually just a pile, and then it gets tidied and I never find the books again.
Mar. 23rd, 2013 07:27 am (UTC)
I sort fiction books by the mood which they put me in.
Mar. 22nd, 2013 09:31 am (UTC)
I organised my bookselves once. Then all of a sudden I had so many books they had to be stacked by size to fit more in.

I shall always dream of having L space.
Mar. 22nd, 2013 09:36 am (UTC)
Ahhh L space. When I first read about L space I realised that at least one person in the world truly understood me.
Mar. 23rd, 2013 01:34 am (UTC)
I long for it, and its librarian.
Mar. 22nd, 2013 11:39 am (UTC)
I make piles of books that seem to go together, by topic for nonfiction books and by genre-then-author for fiction. Nonfiction by topic also gets sorted based on where I think I will remember to look for it, or what I am thinking of when I go look for it. So I have piles. And then I look at how long the shelves are and what fits well where, and try to give the stuff I read more often the easier-reached shelves. And then I decide that psychology and anthro are going to damn well have to suck it up and share a shelf, because if anthro goes on the shelf with archeo there will be a big fight and anyway archeo is going with geology, and maybe history depending on how much room is left. But a lot of the folklore which you'd think went in anthro or history is actually filed by why I own it, namely "coyote books" or "fox books" or by country of origin, because that's where I will remember to look for it.

We used to have a section called "Know Your Enemy" which included everything from how to defend yourself against cult mind control and Dianetics exposes and even a stack of Chick Tracts to crappy OMG PAGANS ARE TEH DEBUL stuff which we literally only kept around to refute. Lately we threw out a bunch of that crap because a) people do judge us on our bookshelves, don't they and b) the Internet makes that much easier these days so we don't really have to keep the damn original in the house.

And then there are stacks which only make sense as stacks when you know *why* I read them, because that book on the history and invention of the modular cargo container is mostly economics but a bit about spaceship design, and so gets filed under economics even though it might really belong in engineering or something, but those are all computer books and it looked really out of place over there.
Mar. 22nd, 2013 11:58 am (UTC)
Although I don't read many ebooks and mostly keep a massive library of paperbacks, one of the advantages of ebooks is that you can file them under as many categories as you want all at the same time. You can do this with print books as well if you don't mind having multiple copies, of course, but that takes up even more room.

I've just finished reading "The Far Call" by Gordon R. Dickson, a 1978 SF novel about the first human expedition to Mars (originally published as a serial in 1973) which I picked up for 50c at the organic greengrocer. It's really alternative history now, because it was set in the near future - not specified, but presumably somewhere around now. Fascinating reading in a different way than it would have been if I had read it when it first came out, because it now gives interesting historical perspective on the view of the future from the past. Retrofuturism is also a kind of history!
Mar. 22nd, 2013 02:02 pm (UTC)
You can do this with print books as well if you don't mind having multiple copies, of course,

Totally of course! I think that's the best idea yet. I shall start immediately.

Retrofuturism is a great word. And a fascinating topic.
Mar. 22nd, 2013 10:11 pm (UTC)
This reminds me of the time my sister came to stay and organised my books by colour of the spines and then by height. Fortunately I have a very good visual memory so it worked somewhat better than you might think.

At the moment I'm just aiming, unsuccessfully so far, for books on shelves as opposed to in random piles on surfaces including the floor.

And you wouldn't believe the complication that also having a significant proportion of your books in your office at work makes.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )


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