I have a friend who arranges his books generically, with each genre bleeding into the next – science into SF; history into historical fiction. It took him days, but he was a happy man by the end of it. In Jonathan Safran Foer's novel, Everything is Illuminated, a girl derides her lover for ordering his books by colour ("How stupid") – but the system retains a small but passionate following. One colleague orders her books according to which authors she feels would be friends in real life – regardless of the centuries that separate them. ... Myself, after a lifetime of experimentation, I find I prefer the fortuities and disjunctions that arise from eschewing arrangement altogether: my books end up on my shelves according to where I can jam them, which has the advantage of cutting down on random acts of borrowing, as only I know where anything is located.Sarah Crowne considers bookshelf etiquette on The Guardian blog. It's a topic I love and have visited before (e.g.) but never tire of. And John Crace suggests some alternative ways to organise your shelves to express your personality including :
• The literary snob
Old Penguins, heavily creased to denote re-reading, are lined up in rows of orange, black and grey. These can be bought by the yard at most secondhand bookshops, and are a very easy way of acquiring instant intellectual credibility.
• The 'I'm desperate for a shag', male version
Must include prominent copies of The Golden Notebook and The Second Sex and any dreary rubbish by Ian McEwan lying around to show you are in touch with your sensitive side. Best to hide any well-thumbed copies of Belle du Jour and La Vie Sexuelle by Catherine M under the bed.
• The kleptomaniac
Easy. You just arrange your books in accordance with the numbering system of the library from which you nicked them.