the owl and the olive tree

books, food, writing, and more

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Yesterday we had fajitas! They were delicious. Thank you to everyone who voted in the poll.

Today's question:

Right now, I have bookshelves that are not organized in any way. This is somewhat unfortunate when I am trying to find books.

I know what organization scheme I want: fiction separated from nonfiction, fiction sorted by author and then by series and then by title, nonfiction separated by subject and then by author. Graphic novels, manga, and RPG sourcebooks in their own section, sorted by type and then by series and then in internal ordering. Anthologies in their own sections, sorted by genre and then editor. Cookbooks are already in their own section, but need to be sorted by genre and then by author. I am undecided on whether artbooks will go in their own section or in the art section of nonfiction.

What I'm trying to figure out is:

- Is there any way to achieve this system of organization without pulling every book I own off the shelves and onto the floor, and then sorting them? I fear for what will happen if I pull every book off the shelves and stack them up on the floor. (I suspect not, but hope springs eternal.)

- Assuming I must pull everything off the shelves to do the sorting: do you have any recommendation for how to do this in the way that is most efficient/least likely to leave me with stacks of books all over my floor for the next six months?

(I also hope to catalog them in Goodreads, but that is going to necessarily happen after, not before, the physical sorting and organization.)

Thank you. :D

Crossposted to Dreamwidth Comment here or there. comment count unavailable comments currently at DW.

Depending how many you have, use labeled boxes. A-f, g-l... Then have boxes by topic for the non-fiction. When they are all pulled, you can put them in what ever order you choose, depending on shelving, sliding boxes, rather than toppling piles as you go.

I did this before we moved, and I was so glad I did, because when our new shelves arrived I could place as needed.

Ooh, bins or boxes are a good idea. That also will make it easier to transfer the sorted books to their ultimate home.

Thank you!

I would do it in phases. So like, start small, with a category you don't have many books in (like, biography or something). Clear off one shelf and set those books in a pile on the floor. Fill up the shelf with all your biographies. Each biography you take off another shelf, replace it with one of the books on the floor. That way at the end you have no books on the floor, but you have one organized shelf.

But really it's best to just do it in one giant marathon sorting session (like, don't stop until you're done, to avoid the books on the floor for six months problem. I have ours organized pretty much how you're describing, with the nonfiction broken down by category and the fiction broken down basically into mystery, pulpy stuff, modern fantasy/scifi, and literature (including classic fantasy/scifi).

Also, once you're categorized, make sure you leave extra space after each section or on each shelf so when you get new books you have somewhere to put them.

This was what I was going to suggest. Pick a case and what will go in it, clear those what doesn't belong to floor-or-other-temporary-storage-location, then go through everything else to pull onto it what should now live there. Lather, rinse, repeat.


Yep, this is exactly what I would suggest. You can also start with fiction in another part of the book area, and basically take any fiction books and begin putting them in order at the top of your fiction section.

You can slowly expand that fiction section as you gradually add books. Because you're shifting (the technical term) in small increments of a book or two at a time, it won't hurt to just keep adding things in alphabetical order. As you need more room, just remove more books down the shelves and put them in their new home or, possibly, in temp boxes for the bigger non-fiction sections.

Ooooh. That's a good idea. I could clear a couple of shelves and just tackle all the fiction by authors with A last names, and then all the authors with B last names, and so on, without needing to pull every one of the hundreds of books in the house off the shelves.

Thank you!

Edited at 2012-08-21 09:59 pm (UTC)

Bubble sort!

*runs and hides*

I'm a believer in the "roughly designate what shelves are for what, and then start bringing books to them, one at a time." Start with one shelf, and distribute all the books on it onto the shelves where they will (probably) go. This will mean temporarily double-stacking books, but it's got the advantage of taking exactly as much time as you want-- five minutes? Five hours? One book? You can do one book a day if you want, or one book when you go into the room. The disadvantage is the messiness of double-stacking. The advantage is that you'll know which sections expand or contract past your expectations, so you don't have the unfortunate thing where you designate shelves and then have them overflow in ways which mean you have to move *everything*.

What is this "temporary" double-stacking of which you speak? (Does anybody ever have enough shelving to not double-stack most things?)



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