Let’s Shelve This, Home Edition

Leslie Hawkins -- March 5th, 2018

Last year I wrote about the unique challenges of deciding how to shelve children’s books, as opposed to books for adults, when you have to take into account reading level, developmental stages, maturity of content, and other considerations right alongside genre, subject, and author’s last name. Now I’m facing a whole ‘nother shelving challenge: how to shelve my books at home.

I’ve just moved to a new apartment for the first time in a decade, which means that I’m now faced with how to shelve my books in the new place. The ones lucky enough to earn spots on actual shelves, that is—some will inevitably be relegated to floor stacks and table stacks because I never have enough shelves.

At home, I have the luxury of not having to worry about anyone but myself being able to find a certain book, but I do prefer having some sort of system. Over the years I’ve tried chronological, strictly alphabetical, by genre/subject, or even by mood. After starting Spellbound, I soon got over separating my own book collection by target audience age—if I’m in the mood for a thumping good mystery, for instance, I don’t care if it’s written for 10-year-olds or 50-year-olds, as long as it’s written well and I can find it when when the mood strikes.

At the heart of this fun shelving quandry, of course, is the notion that moving provides the perfect opportunity to start fresh—to get and stay organized. I donated several boxes of books (along with clothes, housewares, and assorted gifted-but-never-used oddities). I cleared out the clutter in the hopes of turning around my jumbled, book-hoarding pack rat ways and creating order out of chaos. This time I’ll create a system and actually stick to it!

Okay, so, realistically, something like 98 percent of my organizational zeal gets used up at the bookstore and my home is usually a sea of books and papers with small islands of furniture dotting the horizon. But a girl can dream, can’t she?

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