Chaos! Or, How I Organize My Books

If you came over my house to take a bookshelf tour, your first thought would probably be, “Wow, there’s a lot of books here.” Then it would probably be, “Wow, everything is pretty dusty…”

After you greeted our cats, I’d take you around to look at my nine shelves and you might begin to look for some semblance of order among our collection of roughly 1,800 tomes. You’d likely find none, and you’d be mostly correct.

Even after years of having our libraries merged, Sweetbeeps still can’t find books he’s looking for. But I, Queen Hoarder Supreme, do actually have some idea of where most books are despite some rather large reorganization sessions. I don’t always find it right away, but I generally know what shelf of what shelf a specific book is on, even if I haven’t read it (which is good because I haven’t read like, 700 of them. Oops.)

We do have one shelf downstairs that is solely for vintage books and I even did my best to organize it by color (because as much as I like to see those beautiful rainbow bookshelves, there’s no way in hell I’m separating authors and series for the sake of aesthetic!), but really that does us little good because we don’t actually READ these books. They’re just for show…and smell.

There are a few shelves that are themed, if you will. Some contain only historical fiction or middle-grade, but these aren’t all of our historical fiction or middle-grade – they’re still spread about the house. I also tried to keep all my comics/graphic novels together, but they don’t all fit on one shelf so even though they’re in the same room, they’re not all together. Anything I have multiple editions of (Jane Austen, Alice, The Hobbit) are all kept together and I always keep authors and series together. I even half of a shelf on a shelf that’s dedicated to short story collections.

But really, there are books of every genre everywhere and I have no hope of grouping them all together, nor any real desire to do so. What I’d really love is to alphabetize my collection – I think I’ve mentioned this before and it would require like, a literal library, because I would always need room for more books.

Instead what I have are books on top of books, in front of books, stacked horizontally and vertically and balanced precariously, crammed in with a bunch of decorations like pop figures, photos, boxes and artwork.

I’m not a library, and I will tell you that if you ever come over and ask to borrow a book, but I think I do a decent job of understanding the chaos that is my collection and I do think of myself as pretty good home librarian.

~

Tell me about your collection! How do you organize it? Do you like to group by genre, author, color, paperback/hardcover?

A Booktastic Anniversary

April 29th was my one year wedding anniversary and my husband booked us two nights in this fabulous B&B in Camden, Maine (which was actually a suggestion from my maid of honor, so without her, we never would have found the place!) called the Norumbega Inn.

We stayed in their library suite, which is so appropriate. The room is where the original library is located and has a balcony that spans the top half of the room with a ton of vintage books! We also had a little room with a gas fireplace (where Sweetbeeps would read in the mornings because he gets up earlier than me.) When we arrived we got a little history lesson about the place, but of course, I don’t remember much. But I know this mansion (castle?!) was built in 1886 by some guy who invented something (haha yep) and it was a private home until the mid-80s. I also know it’s the coolest B&B I’ve ever been to (she says, having only been to one other) and I had the best food there I’ve had in my life and we definitely plan to return.

Camden is a cute little town by the water with quite a few shops to check out….though some get pricey because of tourists and vacationers. There’s hiking in the area, but we didn’t end up doing that because it was still fairly cold. Anyway, on to the pictures….be prepared, there are a TON:

                                                       That fog so atmospheric!

                                           That cage needs a peacock, doesn’t it?

                                       A doggo!

                              Get ready for all your woodworking dreams to come true

                                                                  Soooo delicious!

                               I totally made Sweetbeeps touch that statue’s boob

                                       Even our doorknob was well designed!

                                     Our little side room…and a small view of the main room.

                                                               The view from bed!

                                                                I really love this shelf.

                                          Booooooks!

                                            This book maybe came home with me…….. 

                                                         Just casually browsing….

                                                          Me: Look like you’re browsing. Him…

                                                                       He thinks he’s funny.

                                                                   Found us in book form.

There were four bookstores downtown and naturally, we went to all of them!

                                                  Basically all vintage, but pretty pricey!

                             Super cute, but more of a cafe with small book selection.

                                  Too crowded to focus.

                          Half a toy store, but decent selection!

Managing Your Hoard – Er – Library

For those of you who have a rather expansive hoard library like myself with a (possibly unreadably) large TBR pile, it can sometimes be tough to not only store your books but keep track of which ones you own and what book to read next.  Just wanted to share my thoughts on what it’s like to have a big personal library.

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that I log all of my books on LibraryThing and that mostly keeps me from accidentally buying multiple copies of the same book (excepting, of course, when I purposely buy multiple copies). However, the site only works when I actually remember to check it. Sometimes I pick up a book and it sounds familiar, so I check my library. Other times, nothing about the book sounds at all familiar, so I buy it, then when I get home and log it on the site I get the notification that I already own a copy! This is rare and so far has only happened with books that I’ve yet to read, but still.

As for storing my books, well, I’ve mostly given up trying for any semblance of order. We have bookshelves all over the house and they’re all double stacked and vertically and horizontally stacked and generally cluttered. I’m actually pretty good at remembering where certain books are (or at least what shelf they’re on) but I know to the outside eye my collection is a hot mess – or maybe it has a quaint, homey, used bookstore kind of vibe.

I’d love to roughly categorize them and alphabetize them, but I would need a literal library for that, with room to grow. I do have a shelf that is strictly vintage books. And a couple cubbies on other shelves that are dedicated to comics, middle grade and historical fiction, but those types of books can also be found on other shelves.

Recently I culled about 80 books from the hoard, followed by another 20 about a month or two later. I rearranged several shelves and managed to spread out some books from overcrowded shelves. After sinking some time into this, I stood back proudly, hands on hips, feeling accomplished and said to Sweetbeeps: “See, doesn’t that look much better?”

To which his reply was a blank stare and a muttered: “Well, to you I’m sure it does. Honestly, I can’t tell.”

Womp!

I still feel good about my purge (which went a long way in telling myself it was okay to purchase sixteen books during Book Outlet’s recent sale) and lately, I have been trying to be more selective about which books I buy. I try to take a moment to consider the plot and if I’ll really make an effort to read it – though it could still sit on my shelf for a million years even if I’m making an effort – and I have managed slow down my buying by a teeeeeeny bit. Progress, right?

My TBR will forever be a mess and even my attempts at making a “priority TBR” (some of which is featured at the top of this post) and a log of books I received specifically for review don’t do much to keep me on track. I’ll always read what I want when I want and buy too many books. I’m ok with this.

So tell me, if you have a massive collection of books, read or unread, how do you manage to store them, organize them, and pick what you’re going to read next? Do you live with people that understand your hoarding, or at least put up with it? Pleeeeaaaase tell me I’m not alone!