I wrote a post about arranging my books after my move a couple of weeks ago. I’m almost done arranging my books now, though the books on the shelves in my bedroom are still not quite there, and neither is the bookcase by the phone. I’ll work on those two tomorrow. I think the organization of my books makes perfect sense, but I realize it is full of quirks because of my particular collection of books and my current shelving situation. I’ve arranged the books by categories and sub-categories, then generally by author within the sub-categories. My categories and sub-categories make sense to me, but not everyone is going to have a section of books about the resurrection shelved in theology, just after the books on Christology. In the history section (my friend the Libertarian will be happy to see that I have a history section) some subsections are alphabetical by author, but others are arranged chronologically. One set of shelves that I have to work on tomorrow contains biographies. These will be arranged by subject, not by author. Of course in the case of autobiographies the subject and author are the same.
Other people have also been talking about arranging books on shelves recently. Do you have anything to add?
The move is complete in the sense that nothing of mine is at the old place, and everything of mine is at the new place and I only have keys to this new place, so it must be home. My bookcases are now all assembled. Many of them have many books on the shelves. I’m trying to arrange books as I go, but also feel need to get rid of boxes and just dump books on any old shelf.
Sometimes organizing books is a lot of fun, but other times it is a slow and painstaking process. Should all my C.S. Lewis books go together? Or should the theological essays go in theology and the children’s books with all the other children’s books. (Yes, I have two shelves of children’s lit. No, I have not got any children or nieces or nephews.) I have a section called (in my head) “The Women.” Should women’s biographies go there too, or should they be with all the other bios? So many questions, so little shelf-space.
How do you organize your books? Size? Colour? Genre? Author?
I’ve talked about audio books in this space before. I don’t think that listening to an audio book is the same thing as reading, but I will concede that listening allows one to access the content of books in a different way. As I’m cleaning and packing and culling and doing all the things associated with moving, I’ve been listening to an audio mystery, In the Bleak Mid-Winter by Julia Spencer-Fleming. This is the first book featuring Rev. Claire Fergusson, an Episcopal priest in a parish in a small town in up-state New York. The book involves parish politics as well as bodies and mysteries. I am quite enjoying it. I shall have to investigate the rest of the series once the move is over.
In conversations around decorating my new place my friends think I am overly concerned with bookshelves. I think they don’t quite get it. The living room is the library. In a library, the shelves are very important. The shelves need to be placed first, and other furniture around the shelves. Why? Because once a bookcase is anchored to the wall and filled, it isn’t going anywhere very quickly. Also, the most exciting thing about moving is having more shelves, and the chance to arrange and reorganize my books. This is Very Exciting.
As previously mentioned in this space, I am moving. While I think this is a good thing, it is an unsettling process to move. Moves involve culling books and possessions, encountering new people and situations, and adjusting one’s schedule and routines. While I’m not moving a huge distance (just over 3 km by any road route), there is a certain amount of chaos and instability in the process. In an attempt to keep some things in my world familiar, I’m my current read is a re-read. The book I chose to re-read for this move is Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson, partially because I’d been thinking about it all summer. I’m not sure exactly why I was thinking about this book all summer long. Little snatches of the book kept popping into my head. It wasn’t always the same scene either. Haiku opens the book, so someone trying to write a poem would remind me of Bobby Shaftoe (really, that’s a character in the book) and his cultural exchange with Goto Dengo that began in a sushi bar. The book centres on code-breaking and information processing, and for some reason that kept coming into my head over the summer. The settings, cross-country drives, banking crises, all these made me think of Cryptonomicon. So I’m re-reading it.
I love re-reading this book as it has so many things, including theological references, in it that I haven’t seen yet. There is a lot in this one. Here is a theological reference I saw last night for the first time. Bobby Shaftoe meets his detachments chaplain while in a large meat locker (“the size and temperature of Greenland”) separating a frozen pig corpse from a frozen human corpse (long story):
They are all working away silently when a new voice interrupts. “Dear Lord,” the voice begins, as they all look up to see a man standing nearby, hands clasped prayerfully. His words, sacramentally condensed into an outward and visible cloud of steam, veil his face. His uniform and rank are obscured by an Army blanket thrown over his shoulders. He’d look like a camel-riding Holy Land prophet if he were not clean-shaven and wearing Rape Prevention Glasses.
That whole sacramentally condensed words part is great!
The last time I moved I re-read Girl Meets God. The time before that, it was The Bourne Identity. The first book I read in the apartment I moved into before that was a new book to me, Contact by Carl Sagan. It was a connection with my aerospace engineering past as I moved into my seminary and theological education future.
What books do you chose during unstable times?
As noted earlier in this space, I am moving. I have done an initial cut of my books with more to come. My current task is purging paper files. I am an academic who likes to save things that might possibly be used for future research. This is a problem. I decided, before opening the first of nine (9) bankers boxes of assorted files that I moved from my last location, to be quite severe this time around. So far I have been. Two boxes have become half a box. Well begun, I think, and isn’t that half done?
I have been sorting more carefully through some files labeled “bibliography.” If I have to get rid of paper copies of journal articles, it might be nice to have a list of some that might be important. The lists I’ve looked at have mostly been books. In the dim and distant past I’d annotated one of the lists in a read it/got it/need it kind of way. I am going to update those notes as I think I’ve acquired some of the ones listed under Need. Also I’ve read a book or two so the Read part also needs some work. I like bibliographies a lot — so helpful for picking out what to read next. Also, these bibliographies may help me decide which books are worth keeping. After all, aren’t bibliographies lists? And aren’t lists of books a good thing?