Thursday, November 09, 2006

Shelfish Reasons

I recognise the symptoms of what BookLust calls Bibliomania, "the best disease bar none" only too well ...

She does rather make things worse though by suggesting a list of guides to book collecting which I know simply must have. Am now running out of shelf space again and a big reshuffle of my shelves is planned which will probably take weeks ... and I dread it, not so much because I hate cleaning (which I do) but because I keep finding old friends on the shelves and have to sit down and read them.

I've acquired a tiny handheld vacuum cleaner which will be just the thing for cleaning the books without realising clouds of dust into the air. It was a free gift from the nice folks at the car workshop after I spent many thousands on repairs to parts of the innards I didn't even know existed. (The money that could have been better spent on antique bookshelves and numerous rare first editions.)

I've noticed that there's nothing bibliomaniacs (that's you guys!) love to talk about more than how they organize their collection. (The idea of organising a book collection by colour prompted a lot of discussion and made me realise just how many different ways there are to organise books ... and how idiosyncratic we all are!)

The topic comes up again today on the Guardian blog where Sarah Crown makes a plea for advice, as she struggles to reshelf her books after a house move:
Believe me, I've tried nearly everything. I used to favour the popular "by genre" approach: different shelves for poetry, plays, fiction, non-fiction, travel, cookery ... The problem there, though, is that the travel shelf ends up only half-full, and then you're faced with the problem of what to complete it with. So you pick cookery, but cookery spills over onto the next shelf ... and so it goes. Even if you decide that, despite its flaws, the genre system is for you, there are further choices to be made. Do you organise each genre alphabetically? Do you attempt the infinitely tricky but profoundly impressive, if you can pull it off, genre-bleed - science into sci-fi, history books into historical fiction?
I enjoyed the reader comments, suggesting all kinds of solutions I would never have thought of, including:
  • organising books by the price you paid for them
  • putting heavier books at either end of a shelf so they don't warp (invented by an engineer)
If, like Kak Teh the other day, you simply have too many books and need to cull them, why not bookcross them? This is a tad risky in Malaysia where most people don't seem to understand the concept, but you could donate them to the local bookcrossing group or leave them on the bookcrossing shelf at Silverfish. (From which I seem to pick up more titles than I leave, which isn't the point, really.)

There are also a number of bookswapping sites now on the internet and the Librarything blog has done a good job of highlighting these recently, and here's a list of sites they recommend:
I don't mind getting rid of books - but it always seems to be that the books I get rid of seem a little further down the line to be the books I need desperately to refer to ... and I end up buying another copy!


Someone added the best suggestion yet on the blog ... arrange your books in dinner-party order i.e. according to which authors would most like to sit by each other. I love that!


Jordan said...

My small-but-more-impressive-than-I-thought book collection is arranged roughly along the lines of that genre-bleed thingy. But it's definitely frustrating when things don't quite fit where I think they're 'supposed to' go. Sigh.

bibliobibuli said...

i've just been dusting and rearranging abu's books. all the war stories and spy stories and cop stories and terrorist stories can bleed into each other all they like. i'm pissed off keeping them clean!

amir said...

Sharon, if you have to get rid of books, can you hold on to some for now?

I'm trying to work something out with a Press organisation for a project to give books away systematically.

Even if they say no, I'm going to go ahead anyway under other organisations.

Would only announce it after I get everything in place. In the meantime, hold on to those books!


bibliobibuli said...

the only books i have to give a way at the moment are age-spotty thrillers. could anyone want them??? i will chuck nothing yet, in case

well done, amir.

amir said...

Thrillers, old mags, whatever is suitable for kids - the focus of the project - would be most welcome.

When it happens, I would really appreciate it if you could contribute by publicising the thing at your wonderful blog.

I have been very busy lately and was not well so I couldn't participate much in your postings. Especially the ones that mentioned me. Me! Me! Me!

Anyway, it's good to read your postings the past few weeks. You're a one-stop resource centre. Makes the world a little easier.

Keep up the good work, Sharon.


bibliobibuli said...

*blush* thanks for kind words, amir

we are clearly members of each other's appreciation societies

and yes, i'd be delighted to post about it when the time comes

Kak Teh said...

amir/sharon, I wish I am nearer home. I am giving away many, many novels for children, text books, gcse books and novels thatI have read that I cant find space to keep.
If the weather is goodthis weekend, I might just sit outside with the books and give them away.
WE have been arranging them according to genres as well, academicbooks, malay lit books, books on cinema and last but not least, those that go into the one with the glass doors, are what we called 'posh books' haha - cos, they are so expensive and are limited editions and some autographed.

bibliobibuli said...

why don't you bookcross them kak teh - it is fun (in theory because it hasn't worked for me here) you can see how far your book travels across the world

i want a book case with glass doors for my posh books ... though i'm sure my books aren't that posh compared to yours

Kak Teh said...

haha sharon, they are only posh according to our definition. Will take pictures so you can judge whether they are posh or not.

Anonymous said...

Off the subject, how many awards are their for published works in both the U.K. and U.S.? I there some website we can visit to see the winners of each? Just thought it would be interesting to get an idea of what are the literary differences between the two regions. Thanks.

bibliobibuli said...

take pictures kak teh and i will broadcast them to the world! (and that goes for anyone else readidng this)

anonymous - there are so many awards i can't keep track. but the best website for tracking awards is the Book Award Annals which features both british and american awards

Argus Lou said...

Bib, I've just arranged the miserable few shelves of (yet unread and reference; feel like I'm in a book famine, yech!) books I have after relocating to Europe in the order of the colours of the rainbow - VIBGYOR: violet (violent content can go here, too), indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, red. It did not work out very well coz there are numerous books with whitish, orange, blue and black spines, and very few of the other colours.

When you get your next book published, remember to sport a violet, cerise, purple, butter yellow or shocking green spine, ya? (Hey, Lydia, are you also reading this, perchance? Honk, honk!)

bibliobibuli said...

okay argus lou - will do

lil ms d said...

you're so v lucky to have a library. my books are still in boxes until i find a proper home for me... eesh.

The Great Swifty said...

I've filled up my original book shelf when I was a kid, so I put the rest of my books in my closet, which lasted for a while, before the sheer weight of the books caused everything inside to collapse, and until now, I still haven't been able to rescue some of my books from my decimated closet.

Now I am stuck in Perth, and I'm having trouble figuring out how to bring my books back to Malaysia. Darn.

On the other hand, Justin had just written a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG review of Mishima Yukio's short stories. Behold.

The Great Swifty said...

Ooops, forgot the URL. Here you are.

pablo said...

i arranged mine according to height. then the flood came and washed them away..
then i arranged them acording to colour. again the flood came ad washed them away.
then i arranged them according to genre and size. my friend came and took 'em away.
now i arrange them in boxes..and put them away.:D

Anonymous said...

I have about 20 books. They're all in a pile in a sort of horizontal bookcase. Surely the fun part of a book is reading it, not arranging it ?

bibliobibuli said...

one would think. still when one has a few hiundred or a couple of thousand and they take over the house, you od find yourself musing on the subject. i need to be able to find a particular book so i need to have them organised.