As a brief break between poetry posts, I wanted to say something about book organization. Right now, all 600 or so books that I own are in boxes and bins and waiting ever so patiently for the moving truck to arrive tomorrow (and the very nice grad students who have agreed to help us move in return for pizza and beer). I feel bereft looking at the empty shelves, and I found myself feeling a wee bit panicky at the thought that I would not be able to immediately access the books that I haven’t tried to read in 3 years (or more). If anyone had walked into the office over the weekend they would have seen this:
Panicky-book-lusting-me: “Ooooh, I forgot I had David Harvey’s The Condition of Postmodernity! I should read this.”
Rational me: “Right now? Seriously? How about putting it in that nice box over there instead?”
Panicky-book-lusting-me: “But what if I need it in the next, oh, five days?”
Rational me (rolling eyeballs): “When did you buy it?”
Panicky-book-lusting-me (with much indignation): “Only a year ago!”
Rational me: “Right, a year on your shelf and you haven’t read it. I think you can go without it for another week.”
Panicky-book-lusting-me: “But, but…. (drops book in hand for another dusty tome) what about this one?”
And so on, and so on….
I don’t know what I should be more concerned about: my apparent inability to read the books I buy, or the fact that I have full conversations with myself while packing.
I am excited about the new apartment, but is it wrong that I am primarily excited because I will be re-organizing my books? Moreover, Apparent Dip has to leave town for a few days and I’m relishing the fact that I get to reorganize in solitude (well, except for the menagerie of animals who are soooo not helpful when it comes to packing/unpacking). As a former bookstore employee, one of my favorite activities was shelving–there’s something so rewarding and soothing in a well-organized shelf (particularly for someone who’s perhaps a tad bit OCD). As far as fiction is concerned, I’m going to be organizing it chronologically (and then by author, title, etc). My reasons for doing so are: a) I have everything catalogued in Library Thing and Bookpedia so I can find it there, b) books that I use for school/work are also cataloged in Bookends with original publication date, and c) it really helps solidify the context in which these books were written. For instance, Jane Eyre will now be placed near Vanity Fair because they were written in the late 1840s (a piece of information that never really sank in before). It feels like I can see the different conversations that books/authors were having with each other right on my very own bookshelves.
There will be some tough choices to make though (note: tongue is firmly in cheek at this point). I have a very nice bookcase with glass doors: what gets pride of place? Where should biographies be shelved? I am generally undecided about my non-fiction books. Do I try and arrange by subject matter, then alphabetically? Do I just arrange alphabetically? You can bet that I will be thinking about this all afternoon instead of finishing the rest of my packing….