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by Bill Ward on October 12, 2011

in On Books

This post originally appeared at Grasping For the Wind Buy Petcam Over The Counter, in March 2010, and was written in response to one of John Ottinger's Inside the Blogoshere questions: How do you organize your library?

Around a month ago I went through a major overhaul and purge of my collection, something years overdue. Space was definitely becoming more and more of an issue for me as my shelves had come to be packed two or three deep in places (and just what was behind that outer layer?), and stout towers of hardbacks and trades had begun to grow on the floor in front of my bookcases. Petcam australia, What shred of organization was left from my last resorting -- which happened to be at a time when I bought and installed yet more shelves -- was being obscured and diluted by new purchases. What I needed was not only a rethink of where certain things should be shelved, but a culling of the herd.

Anyone with a serious book buying habit knows that, 50mg Petcam, realistically, they will never be able to read everything they buy. It's a sobering and unwelcome fact that only a fraction of all those great used book finds from the library or thrift store or local indie shop -- all those exciting impulse purchases -- cannot be gotten to in a normal human lifespan, buy Petcam Over The Counter. 1000mg Petcam, So, either you become a firm believer that the Singularity will come along and grant you some sort of extended lifespan (possibly turning you into a book-reading cyborg), or you get real and get rid of some of the stuff you've accumulated over the years.

For me that meant coming to terms with all the people I was never going to be, Petcam overseas. I'd never be that guy quoting Aristophanes and Euripides, or the one who rereads the highlighted sections of Seneca and Cicero as part of their bedtime ritual. Petcam usa, I'd never get to the massive stack of Ellery Queens gathering dust on my lowest shelf, never grapple with the modern drama or nineteenth century poetry I had squirreled away behind the SF paperbacks. Buy Petcam Over The Counter, I'd never be the polymath I liked to imagine myself turning into in my twenties when I bought all these books -- books bought almost as if to justify the energizing yet fantastical premise that somehow, someway, I'd triumph over time and human nature and read everything.

So, the cardboard boxes came out, Petcam india, divided into 'cold storage' and 'adios' categories. Cold storage books are borderline, Petcam craiglist, books that I think I may have some use for in the next five years or so but don't feel should be part of the main collection -- these boxes get stacked in closets, or wherever I can find space and don't have to look at them. The adios pile is further divided into books I think I can resell, and books I plan on giving to Goodwill (our local Goodwill has a pretty thriving book circulation business going on, 20mg Petcam, and is a large part of why I have too many books in the first place). The big goal was to reduce and organize my existing shelves so they didn't have multiple rows and piles of books on them -- in short, 10mg Petcam, to make my shelves look nice, for a change, and to render them more functional.

I tell myself, too, when getting rid of books that should I ever regret their loss, another copy can be easily obtained, buy Petcam Over The Counter. And when e-book reader technology settles down and becomes more mainstream (and less proprietary, 250mg Petcam, Amazon and Apple!) I envision another culling, this time to get rid of books that I don't particularity need to experience as physical objects, Petcam japan, or books I don't like the look of on my shelves. For the reason of freeing up space alone I can see e-books as being a great adjunct to a bibliophile's collection. [and now that I have a Kindle this is very true -- I no longer bother to keep most public domain titles that aren't of sentimental important or collectible condition]

Because space is the issue, in more ways than one, 30mg Petcam. An it isn't just about having space for the books you want to keep, but space to arrange them logically. Buy Petcam Over The Counter, Having bookshelves of different sizes and widths limits what can be displayed where -- if I want all my books on the US Civil War to go on the same shelf, it has to be on a taller one, to accommodate some of the larger format books I have. 500mg Petcam, But, unlike my books on ancient and medieval history, the Civil War doesn't fill a whole shelf -- so what goes next to them in the space left over. Not having the luxury to leave the shelf blank to 'grow into, Petcam uk,' I try out some different, related, Petcam mexico, eras. I have too many books on nineteenth century warfare and colonialism to fit on that shelf, but my stuff on WWI squeezes in OK. But wait, Petcam ebay, don't some of these books belong on the other side of the room, in the Military History and Strategy Section. And what of the paperbacks, buy Petcam Over The Counter. 150mg Petcam, It's more of a logistical nightmare than it seems, at first, and I soon arrived at a point in the proceedings where compromises had to be put in place. So, 40mg Petcam, some of my organization is completely idiosyncratic, and based on the size and format of the book more than other factors (I now have several 'miscellaneous' shelves consisting of very rough groupings of smallish trades, 100mg Petcam, bound together by size and the fact that they don't sensibly fit in elsewhere). What I don't bother with is alphabetizing, either by title or author. I clump books together by subject and author, Petcam us, but have few large collections of any one author (Gene Wolfe being the exception -- his books have recently graduated from having one shelf, to two). Buy Petcam Over The Counter, Fiction and non-fiction rarely go on the same shelf, with the lone exception of some historical fiction that is filed with its related subject. Petcam paypal, Similar authors tend to go together -- Harold Lamb and Robert E. Howard share a shelf, for example. I also have a shelf, Petcam coupon, the one nearest to my chair, that is filled with 'to be read' items, 200mg Petcam, the books I'd like to get to in the immediate future. Needless to say, it's pretty full...

I find that I have far more mass market paperbacks than I can adequately shelve, buy Petcam Over The Counter. I do have a shelf that is close to perfect for these, Petcam canada, a Betamax shelf bought from a local video store in the 80s, when they transitioned away from the old format. 750mg Petcam, Its my longest serving shelf, and holds mass markets nicely, but has nowhere near the space I need for all of them. I've taken to stacking extra paperbacks in a few spaces I've opened in my other shelves, in rows two deep. A compromise with my ideal, to be honest, but I think that a collection will never achieve any sort of perfect stasis. Book collecting is an ongoing process, and finding space and trying to impose order on a mass of books that posses as much emotional significance as they do intellectual, is a running gunfight with entropy, where the only pause exists in order that both sides may reload.

And maybe that's part of the fun of having so many books in the first place.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul McNamee October 12, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Last year before my son was born, I had to give up the reading/den room as his bedroom. I had to reduce and reorg and cram what I could back down into the house office in two large bookcases. I culled a lot – I have been culling over the past two years. Nothing major, but a few here & there.

I finally split my collection from everything together into trades & hardcovers, and mass market paperback. I realized that, say, having Moorcock’s ACE Elrics next to the Del Reys meant the Del Rey covers were starting to curl.

So, I do have alphabetical by author (mostly, until more books were acquired.) But you need to look at either section.

That’s just the fiction.

I have a fair number of histories, writing references, etc. Those I keep watching to see if I can replace with Kindle editions. I am not wholesale switching to digital, but I allow myself a lot more digital choices now, for physical space for the favorites if for no other reason.

Lee October 12, 2011 at 6:31 pm

It’s amazing how universal the problems, and quirks, of book lovers are. I can relate to your ‘Civil War shelf’ problems. I’ve had to make the same sort of compromises. I spent today turning stacks of books on the floor into boxes of books; knowing that when I unbox them I’m going to have a few hard decisions to make.

Fletcher Vredenburgh October 12, 2011 at 11:33 pm

When I had my house done a few years ago I had a floor to ceiling, front to back of the house (30′x8′ and 16″ shelves) book shelf built. About two thirds is fiction (simple alphabetical) and the other third non-fiction in a loose Dewey arrangement. To get all my Pratchett and Moorcock White Wolf editions on shelves after they spent too long in boxes was great.
Even with a lot of of lesser books doubled behind the front row it led to the Great Culling. I just had too many and I could only store so many in boxes in my aunt’s house. Things I knew I would never re-read (or read) went to Powell’s or yard sales.
Now with a Kindle I’ve replaced tons of paperbacks (those with no sentimental value) and I’ve culled even more. I have been a book lunatic for ages and used to drives hundreds of miles to buy books. I have tons of books (at least enough to fill the shelves) I’ll never part with but in the end I want the text more than In need a hard copy.

Bill Ward October 13, 2011 at 1:49 pm

I’ve had a few more culls since I wrote this — and now that I actually own a kindle it’s been great to get rid of some battered old used goodwill copies of public domain stuff and just replace them with free ebooks. Whether I read them or not, at least they aren’t taking up anymore space.

I tend to go through periods of ruthlessness with getting rid of books, and I will say the ‘digital revolution’ has made me even less sentimental. Like you guys I love printed books, but I never suspected how willing I’d be to further refine my criteria for hanging on to them in light of digital versions.

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