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Booking Through Thursday: Order in the shelves

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How do you arrange your books on your shelves? Is it by author, by genre, or you just put it where it falls on?

Okay, I’m thinking answering this may indicate a degree of anal retentiveness or, perhaps, even OCD.

The first case of my main bookshelves contains autographed or collectible works, the winners of the Hugo Award for best novel (in chronological order, of course), and my growing collection of works in translation. The remaining bookcases contain, in order, other SF/fantasy works and fiction, all alphabetically by author’s last name. Now’s where it gets even a bit more embarrassing. The fiction is followed by nonfiction works ordered by where I would put them under the Dewey decimal classification system. I even have a photocopy of an outline of the classifications on one of the shelves to refresh my memory if a question arises.

There are a couple exceptions. First, I still put biographies and autobiographies in the class no longer used by Dewey (but, naturally, ordered alphabetically by last name of the person the book is about). The order is far more relaxed in the other nonfiction categories. Size of the books and available shelf space are about the only thing that determine the order of a book within a class. Finally, the “to be read” bookcase has little organizational structure and, at best, may be divided between fiction and nonfiction.

Some may well think this indicates I’m a bit obsessive. From my standpoint, though, I think the organization of my books and music (alphabetically by artist and then chronologically by date of release) says more about the value I place on them. Ask my wife or any of my college roommates or take a look at my desk at work or at home. All things considered, I am about as untidy as they come. But you gotta draw the line somewhere and when it involves material things, it may as well be with the things you treasure most.


You know, if you ever crave knowledge, there’s always a library. The Dewey decimal system really works.

Michelle Rodriguez, October 2000

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1 comment to Booking Through Thursday: Order in the shelves

  • That’s what I call organization! I will never be able to do that though. I just like them all lumped together like one big category, and then alphabetized. 🙂