I Could Never Be a Librarian…

“I cannot live without books.”
-Thomas Jefferson

We bought (another) bookshelf some time ago but just got it secured to a wall in our office a couple nights ago.  It was nine thirty in the evening and we were both exhausted, but I pulled almost all our books out to reorganize them to use all that glorious additional space we’d acquired.  Not as easy as you might think.

Should I sort alphabetically?  If so, by title or author?  What about by color of book cover?  Size?  Hardback vs. Paperback?  Topic?  Gah!  What was a bibliophile to do?

toomanybooksI eventually decided on chronology, starting with Homer, Virgil, and Beowulf (remember how I majored in European Studies with an emphasis on literary history?…) working my way through Geoffrey of Monmouth, Dante, and Petrarch, and got on rather well until I butted into the sixteenth century.  I stared down at my copy of The Other Boleyn Girl and then frowned at the space it should go for a while before setting it down in a new pile.  I could not, in good conscious, wedge it between Sir Thomas More and John Donne.  I didn’t even get a full century ahead of that before I ground to a halt again.  Rousseau, Voltaire, Manon Lescaut, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and…The Scarlet Pimpernel?  Hm, a better fit than the Boleyn Girl, but still didn’t seem quite right. 
“Are these supposed to go in order of subject matter or when they were written?” I demanded of J. as he obligingly carted books around the flat for me. 
“I have no idea what you’re doing,” he returned, disappearing into the office with my anthologies, essays, and critical works.
“Me neither!”

The same problem with C. S. Lewis, as well as the fact that I have works from him that fall both in fantasy and theology, neither genre had previously featured.  I tucked The Chronicles of Narnia with my science fiction, Lois McMaster Bujold and Douglas Adams…and then realized I had no idea where any of them should go chronologically!  “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” didn’t necessarily come after post-modernism in my mind.  And what about all my academic books, J.’s philosphy and textbooks? 

I finally got it all sorted, but with an additional bookshelf not all of the available space is used.  Which means of course a run to the campus bookstore (hurrah for employee discounts!) and Barnes and Noble is in order!

5 thoughts on “I Could Never Be a Librarian…”

  1. See, this is why I sort by color. No chronology/genre confusions. Of course, some publishers like multi-colored spines, and then I end up with the same problem.

  2. I’m fairly confident that there was a good portion of that post that was written in a language I don’t understand. 🙂
    But in about 2 months I’ll be able to school you at calculus.

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