12 August 2008

Aimless Archeology

It is impossible to unpack 30 boxes of books without rifling through many of them. A college-vintage picture of W. fell out of one. Fading, decaying newspaper clippings stuck out of others. Odd bookmarks abound. Tucked into my Don Quixote was the printout of an email from a neighbor/scholar telling me what drear parts I could skip (in fact, I think I never finished it).

Deciding what should go with what is sometimes easy, sometimes impossible. The fiction is in alphabetical order, as is the poetry. All scores and books on music are together. Cookbooks and food writing are, fittingly, in the dining room. The reference books occupy their own space, with Follett's Modern American Usage snuggled up next to Fowler's Modern English Usage.

The bugaboo was the general non-fiction - it started as "Lit Crit", and gradually other things crept in. John McPhee? Wendell Berry? Is autobiography non-fiction or history? What about biography? Why do we have two copies of Means of Ascent (Volume 2 of Caro's biography of Lyndon Johnson)?*

At one point I idly suggested using the Library of Congress classification system to determine what should live where - I was shot down. Just as well, as it would have added days (or weeks) to the project.

I think I know where to find everything.






*Would you like one? Tell me in the comments and I'll send the spare to someone. And I'll be giving other books away in the next few weeks.

17 comments:

Mayberry said...

That sounds wonderfully fun. Moments of serendipity!

painted maypole said...

i still sometimes look for books and think to myself "now why did i put that THERE?"

Kyla said...

None of our books are organized, much like the rest of our house. Heh.

Furrow said...

While in library school I started placing call numbers on my books. I didn't get very far.

FreshHell said...

I'll take the extra copy! We used to have our books organized loosely by type: pop culture, history (with local history subset), southern lit (obviously we have lots of that), English lit, American lit, etc. Maybe you could just shelve it all alphabetically and call it a day!

noble pig said...

I love going through old books and reorganizing them...it's a perfect way to spend the day!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I just can't wait for the photos of them all arranged on their lovely shelves.

zellmer said...

I'm looking forward to that photo, too. My books are loosely organized, as well. Fiction/non-fiction/poetry/writing resource/books by Bukowski...

Can't wait for your book sale. I need a new book badly.

Kyddryn said...

IF the library was as organized as I'd like, and that's a big IF...I would have it alphabetized by author, then either by title or in order of publication (when there's a series), with maybe a reference section to one side.

Sigh.

This Winter, I hope to spend some hours down there tidying up all the books and ridding myself of the detritus of a household that won't throw anything away but has nowhere else to put it.

Shade and Sweetwater,
K

thailandchani said...

I must admit.. my books are not organized in any fashion. I read them.. they go on the shelf... end of story. :)

Perhaps one day I will want to organize them.

~*

Hip Mom's Guide said...

Thirty boxes of books?! Whew. That's an awful lot of sorting. I say you should just buy a ton of bookshelves & throw them in there - order, shmorder! Have fun perusing...

womaninawindow said...

My books are in my addict. It hurts.

Angeline said...

when I'm determined to get it out of my sight, I'll just shut my eyes and asked my hubby to do the job, in minutes, it would be too late to regret, 'cos all would be gone!

niobe said...

All our books have been arranged by L, who has something awfully close to a photographic memory. So if I want to find something, I just ask him. I guess that system wouldn't work for everyone, though.

needleinahaystack said...

my decorator came over and started organizing books by size and shape...the aesthetic was great but finding books was not.

We have history, biographies and business separated. Favorite college books separate. We also have books to be read on one shelf...because our eyes are always bigger than our reading stomachs...

Julie McCoy said...

woohooo!!!
thank you so much for my book!!!
oddly enough, yer sister in law was here when i opened it....
much love and thanks to you.
i'm still beaming from the time we spent together.
:):):)

katiez said...

I understand completely! I'm in the middle of packing mine (30 packed, 25 to go... But they're small)
My problem, both in the packing and unpacking, is not spending my time leafing through every one... Oh wait, sounds like you did a bit of that as well ;-))