Show us your books! January 10, 2012 12:18 PM   Subscribe

Inspired by cristinacristinacristina's comment here and in the spirit of this Meta from 2008 where we shared photos of our desks, show us your books and tell us how you organize them!
posted by mlis to MetaFilter-Related at 12:18 PM (79 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

I organize by subject area. A shelf with Books about Books, and bookcases with Books on Collecting and Maritime Books are a few of from my collection.

Here are some photos.
posted by mlis at 12:18 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

My wife organizes our bookshelf by color.

It is infuriating when you're trying to find a book.

"But at least it looks nice!" would be her reply.
posted by Grither at 12:21 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by edgeways at 12:24 PM on January 10, 2012 [11 favorites]

Every once in a while I consider organizing my books and then I remember how many of them there are.

Of course it would be a good work out and I'm trying to exercise more.

Askme: how many calories does one burn per hour when organizing books?
posted by sciencegeek at 12:32 PM on January 10, 2012

I've downsized from four bookshelves in the house to three: one for me and one each for the kids. Most of my collection is now within a Nook app on the iPad.

The books I do have on the shelf are organised loosely into travel, comics/graphic novels, reference books (including my husband's monster programming books), paperback fiction, a collection of LM Montgomery books, various foreign language dictionaries and a few hardcover novels. Then they're organised by height, because height is important, of course.
posted by tracicle at 12:37 PM on January 10, 2012

There is absolutely no modality of order to my shelves. It drives me just short of crazy enough to do something about it. Photos would just make you say "Oh. Oh. Oh you poor man."
posted by .kobayashi. at 12:40 PM on January 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

What edgeways said.

I've got a few rare books buried in the pile. Somewhere. But now there's Kindle. Grump.
posted by Melismata at 12:40 PM on January 10, 2012

Science and programming texts on the bottom shelf (aka "where the Perl Cookbook is"), misc. oversized on the next ("where Yale Quotations is"), Stephenson/King/Gaiman/Rowling hardbacks on the next, graphic novels and smaller hardbacks next ("where all the Batman is"), misc. paperbacks above that, more oversized on the top shelf. Newer acquisitions littered in horizontal stacks at the front of those shelves.

And then some more on a small two-level shelf upstairs, organized by color.

Tape Op issues live in the bathroom cupboard.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:41 PM on January 10, 2012

*hops from foot to foot*

Ooh, ooh! I just re-did mine last month! Doubled my shelf space and re-arranged everything, including my desk! And filled it up with dead people's books in no time! But I'm at work and don't have pictures handy so, uh, tonight? See you then?
posted by carsonb at 12:42 PM on January 10, 2012

My books are organized by Dewey Decimal of course, because I'm old skool like that.
posted by Lynsey at 12:42 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I go by size first, since I have a lot of art and architecture monograph/coffee table books, then roughly by subject matter. Subject matter gets pre-filtered a bit by the size distinction, since obviously, the coffee table books are almost all art stuff and they would go together anyway, then paperback fiction is generally all the same size other than "pocket classics" and stuff.
posted by LionIndex at 12:44 PM on January 10, 2012

I had my own bookstore for about a decade and I remember observing a strange phenomena in myself especially near the end of that period. A customer would walk in and describe a book, and even if I couldn't remember the title or the name of the author (I'm terrible with names), my hand seemed to know where the book was. I would take myself to the part of the store that I thought the book was, and then my hand would reach for it, and maybe seven times out of ten, it worked. I remember once a customer came in describing what she thought was a novel, but the hand knew better. I walked around American literature, and English literature, but the hand eventually brought me over to history, and there it was.

Those books were in sections arranged by author, but apparently the retrieval system was more closely related to alien hand syndrome than it was to the alphabet.
posted by Toekneesan at 12:45 PM on January 10, 2012 [14 favorites]

I love my kindle, but I'm not above finding you dead tree people adorable.
posted by found missing at 12:45 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

[img]nomisxid's hard-drive[\img] =p
posted by nomisxid at 12:46 PM on January 10, 2012

My books.

My books are organized alphabetically by author - boring, I know, but I hit a point where the organic theme-and-subject flow wasn't sticking in my brain anymore because there were just. too. many.

My bookshelves are also probably 50% of the furniture in my 475 sq ft condo, so they are by necessity multi-purpose. Legos, laundry, shoes, knickknacks, housekeys all live in uneasy truce on the various shelves. Also dust. Lots of dust.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:47 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

My books are organized by where they quickly and easily fit back on the shelves after the last time that my grandkids pulled them out all over the floor. Whenever possible, we try to subcategorize by the sticky residue left on the covers.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:56 PM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

We do have books but in reality don't read the ones on the shelf very often. In general, the reference books live in two upstairs shelves, and the collections of light stuff, organized by genre and author, downstairs on a giant shelving unit. But really, the way the actual physical books that are being read are usually organized is, in a little stack, and after being read, out the door to be donated. And really, really, the overwhelming majority of books are not being read in their corporeal manifestation at all, but are being consumed on my Kindle, my Ipad, or in audio form on one of my Ipods.

So, can't figure out what I'd take pictures of that would really be responsive. Books on bookshelves? So 5-10 years ago!
posted by bearwife at 12:56 PM on January 10, 2012

I loosely organize vaguely by subject. Meaning, books on one topic are generally shelved together, but there is no rhyme or reason as to which topic is next to which other topic, except that all the sex books and weird stuff (sometimes one and the same, sometimes not) go in the bedroom bookshelf rather than the living room, so as not to horrify the infrequent visitor.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 12:59 PM on January 10, 2012

I'd be too embarrassed to post pictures right now as we are finishing my craft room (where my books will live) and they are in a temporary, not pretty spot right now. I hope to add an extra shelf to each bookcase once they are moved into the craft room, since there is plenty of vertical clearance. How they are currently organized:

Bookcase 1: Reference
Nostalgia - books from my childhood (original or copies tracked down) and yearbooks and scrapbooks
Nonfiction Reference-type - two shelves with craft books taking up most of one
Travel books - I had to stop myself from acquiring any that are more than 3 years old unless they have enough pictures so that I can/will use them in a papercrafting project.
Magazines - They here as there is room and only the reference/crafty ones are kept.

Bookshelf 2: The TBR shelf
Nonfiction Unread - one shelf
Fiction Unread (my biggest category by far at 225+) - on the Unread bookcase and divided into shelves by genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Modern Travel Fiction, Chic Lit and Other.

Bookshelf 3: Read
Nonfiction read through - in the swap box if I'm not going to keep it, otherwise it fills half a shelf
Fiction read - in the swap box if I'm not going to keep it, otherwise it goes to the Read bookcase which is roughly organized by genre

I have a shelf of books that I hope to read in the next few months in the bedroom, too.

My ebooks are in a few folders: "Already Read", "Read Soon", "Read Later", "Series" and "Meh".
posted by soelo at 1:03 PM on January 10, 2012

My books are organized thusly:

Living room: cookbooks on one side, sorted by heaviest closest to shoulder height, lightest higher up, knitting, sewing and other crafting books on the other side, not really sorted to speak of, though sometimes sorted vaguely by craft. Plus, collections of particular fiction that I happen to want on display in my living room, sorted by collection then date of publication. Magazines also live in these cupboards, sometimes sorted by title and date of issue, sometimes not.

Office: Reference that isn't cooking or crafting related, including textbooks, programming guides, etc. Not really organized as there aren't that many of them.

Bedroom: Bookcase on the right contains books I haven't read yet, sorted by author last name then date of publication. Bottom-most shelf reserved for books I have started reading but not finished reading but am not actively reading at this time.

Bookcase on the left contains books I have read and am keeping, sorted by author last name, then date of publication. Top-most shelf reserved for books about writing books on one half and books my friends have written on the other.

Books I have read and am not planning to keep are currently homeless and kind of scattered throughout my apartment, but are few and far between as I gave most of them to Goodwill a few months ago, and now that I have an eReader, I no longer purchase hard copies of books unless I intend to keep them long term.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:04 PM on January 10, 2012

A friend of mine in library school pointed out after an organization of information (cataloging) class that the best way to organize books at home was by size. I was all set to protest until I realized I actually did that too. Mass market paperbacks up top, then trade paper, then normal-size hardcover, and all the huge stuff on the bottom.

This works well until you have several hundred (or thousand, depending on your tolerance level) before you need to do an organize-by-subject arrangement. I'm a professional cataloger and our collection is organized by Dewey, but only to four decimal places in most subjects.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:05 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also: books you are embarrased to own in the bedroom, all the stuff you want to brag about owning in the living room.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:06 PM on January 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

Mine are organized by favorites. Only the best get the top shelf. Sorry, bottom-shelfers.
posted by rachaelfaith at 1:09 PM on January 10, 2012

I'm much better at digital organization of my books than real life. I have plans for a full reading-library/nook with an integrated tablet, but so far I'm stuck in mid-organisation. I dream of rooms like this.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 1:10 PM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

All my top shelf books are bottles. I make a habit of reading from them every night.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:10 PM on January 10, 2012

My books are clumped in lumps. The constitution of those lumps is a function of T, L, R and r, where:

T = Time originally purchased or acquired
L = Degree to which book was liked
R = How often book was read
r = How recently book was read

The precise formulation of this function has yet to be determined, and modern mathematicians believe that it may well be a problem that makes Fermat's Theorem look about as hard as solving x+2 = 5 for x.
posted by Decani at 1:16 PM on January 10, 2012

ok fine tonight I will finish my shelf re-organization so I can post photos. Next week could you post a MeTa asking for photos of how we organise our finances so I will do that too?
posted by jacalata at 1:24 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

What do you mean, "You're not allowed to go to any more library sales"?
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:29 PM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Books are by subject, and in some cases, alphabetically within subject. Bolded categories are my husband's, italicized are mine, and plain is both of us.

Kitchen: 1 bookcase with cookbooks
Living Room/Dining Room: 8 bookcases with history, quotation books, gaming books, hardcover SF/fantasy, young adult, travel, name books, CDs, DVDs
Hall: 3 bookcases with mass market paperbacks (mostly SF/fantasy), sports, graphic novels, comic strip collections, science, business, books on books, organization, self help, reference
Main Bedroom: 5 bookcases with color, pattern, visual inspiration, design and layout, clip art, architecture, language, creativity, Escher, oversized art and design, writing, small "listy" books, fiction trade paperbacks, chess, Scrabble, food writing, crosswords, education, children's picture books, knitting, jewelry, media, fitness, more self help, literary non-fiction
Extra Bedroom: more sports, stamp collecting

One of the hall bookcases is one we bought from a used bookstore going out of business. It was built by the owner specifically to hold mass market paperbacks and holds 6-700 in a 4x8 ft space, but is only maybe 6" deep. We have another one holding all our CDs and a third that is mostly empty.

We both have Kindles and I take advantage of the library, so many of what we have are ostensibly reference. We did a big purge a couple years ago and got rid of 50 boxes of books. We may do another purge at some point this year.
posted by booksherpa at 1:33 PM on January 10, 2012

My books aren’t in any particular order at the moment—previously I have organised them by height: tallest to shortest.
posted by misteraitch at 1:34 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just purged heavily before I moved in August and am down to two bookshelves, not counting the small bookcase of paperbacks in the spare bedroom and the cookbooks in the kitchen.

I organize by color, except for GNs.

Now most things live within Calibre, waiting to get loaded onto the ereader. It's a lot less interesting visually, but much easier to move.
posted by rewil at 1:56 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

toekneesan, when I worked at a bookstore, I had pretty much the same thing going. If I'd stocked the book (and usually I did), I almost always knew where to find it, even on the barest glimmer of a question from a customer. Of course, working in a bookstore when Bridges of Madison County and Celestine Prophecy were huge wasn't exactly the greatest.

My bookshelves are a testament to the ridiculous price of books in Japan. Paperbacks run around $16-17, and personally, I've always preferred trade paperbacks, which bump the book up over $20-25. Hardcovers don't lend themselves to commuting, so I tend to avoid them. Dealing with my father's books after he died probably turned me off the massive collection I'd have otherwise. We had several thousand books to deal with, and he'd been a heavy smoker, so the library wouldn't take any of them. We found a used store that came in with a truck and took them for about $500, and at that point, we were just relieved to not have to pay someone to take them.

Anyway. Fiction and non fiction upstairs, cookbooks on shelves in the dining room. Constantly used cookbooks have taken ahold of the ledge between the kitchen and living room. Treasured books (leather bound Tolkien, the World of the Dark Crystal) on the top of the bookshelf upstairs.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:35 PM on January 10, 2012

I'm a professional cataloger and our collection is organized by Dewey, but only to four decimal places in most subjects.

Gah, catalogers. I have a loose genre>author organization combined with a paperbacks>hardcovers>heavy reference books in descending order by weight kind of organization. It gets the job done. Yes, I do reference, why do you ask?
posted by librarylis at 3:05 PM on January 10, 2012

I used to maintain a database in excel, with type of book broken down by publisher, genre, collection or novel, etc etc etc I gave up somewhere around 1995 or 6 after I was bequeathed a family friend's collection of paperbacks including first editions from the 60s and 70s. They came in sacks.
posted by infini at 3:28 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm really looking forward to jessamyn's answer here.
posted by desjardins at 3:28 PM on January 10, 2012

Wait, that shelf is just the old continent ;p There's cartons and taped plastic bags from the next two (and the doubles)

btw desjardins wanna bet her's is Dewey?
posted by infini at 3:33 PM on January 10, 2012

I have a few different guiding principles that I combine.

Books I am not embarrassed to own go in the lounge bookshelves. After a few years of getting used to the idea, this now includes my husband's 60s sci-fi collection. These are split into two sections: basically my books, which are roughly sorted by subject type; and his books, which are all sci-fi, and alphabetised by author.

The books I am too embarrassed to admit to live in the guest bedroom and the office bookshelves. These are not sorted at all, except that the religious ones my parents keep giving me get hidden at the back.

The dining room seems to have sprouted a bookshelf too recently, and the only governing principle there appears to be that it's where books that I recently acquired and haven't sorted (yet) live.

My work office at work has all my discipline-related books, and a few general reference books.

The lounge bookshelf also frequently houses the cat.
posted by lollusc at 4:22 PM on January 10, 2012

Non- fiction, loosely arranged into Native American stuff, and books on exploration (there's some overlap there, since explorers encountered natives, and wrote about them) general history, and a whole buch of coffee table photography volumes. 2 shelves of caving-related books, journals and newsletters, a shelf's worth of dancing about architecture, and a bunch of fiction, not arranged in any way, except authors together, and my piddling half a shelf of poetry. Then there's another shelf of reference books-- geology, birds, trees, bugs, etc, field guides, and the like. I actually took some pictures a year or so ago, but I can't find 'em right now. Oh, and software manuals.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:26 PM on January 10, 2012

Huh. It has never occurred to me to organize my books in any way except alphabetical by author. By color or size, huh? How do you guys find anything?

Although I guess all my non-fiction is organized by subject by virtue of keeping all the books from the same classes together. My library books sit in 2 piles on the floor, "read" and "haven't read." The "haven't read" pile is depressingly large.
posted by lilac girl at 4:33 PM on January 10, 2012

TBR = the ones shoved in sideways on top of all the others, and the foot-high pile on my nightstand. I've easily got 2 years worth of reading in the TBR piles, right now. Doesn't keep me out of Half Price, though. There's also the to-be-dealt-with-later pile, under the nightstand. it's at about 18 inches, as I type this.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:39 PM on January 10, 2012

I haven't organized my books at all since my early twenties. Since then, I've always had far too many. They are everywhere—not just in the five or six bookshelves, but stacked on every flat surface, on the floor, on the part of the bed I'm not sleeping on, in drawers and cabinets, and in boxes. It's stupid. In the last five or so years, I've been reading more and that's averaged to about 200-300 a year, all of which I've bought (it's my only entertainment expense, really). Most are just trashy paperbacks and there's no good reason to keep them. I keep thinking about selling them used, but then I'd have to actually catalog them somehow.

I'd love to just have a separate room dedicated as a library, with tall bookcases, not just along the walls, but in rows. That would be awesome.

When I get that, I'll also need a entire additional room to keep all my computer hardware. That's a different problem.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:53 PM on January 10, 2012

I organize my adult books by color. Name a book I own and I can tell you what color it is. Cookbooks and borrowed books each have their own section.

My kid books are separated into categories: hardback, paperback, board, Spanish, and Harry Potter. Most YA books are in with the grown up stuff.
posted by that's how you get ants at 5:11 PM on January 10, 2012

that's how you get ants: I organize my adult books by color.

I segregate my porn as well.
posted by gman at 5:13 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Until now I didn't consider myself to have an abnormal amount of books, and I got rid of almost half of them a couple years ago.

They're loosely organized by category and where there's space to put a book. The sideways ones are pretty much all art books that are too tall for the shelf.
posted by cmoj at 5:14 PM on January 10, 2012

I segregate my porn as well.

Just long as you put the midget porn on the bottom shelf.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:25 PM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

i usually like to have things organized in a very particular way, but when i'm not inspired to begin (such as my books) i tend to neglect it and not look at it until it becomes a giant pile taking up a huge portion of my bedroom. hard to ignore when you can barely walk by anymore...

without further ado this is my mess:

mess 1 - no bookshelf here, just stacked against the wall by my bed. it's mostly architecture and sci-fi/fantasy, with some study guides on the far left. some random literature and graphic novels i've picked up along the way are sort of thrown on top.

mess 2 - under my desk, mostly literature and oversized books. i ran out of space so new stuff just got thrown on top.

mess 3 - under my desk as well. yes, the shelf on the left is not straight, it's missing the back to stabilize it. lots of readers from college and grad school, sketchbooks and other miscellaneous stuff that doesn't really belong elsewhere.

it's good to see how others go about finding order for their stacks, it gives me ideas...
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 5:41 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ours are a work in progress. Husband recently brought about 10 boxes of books from family storage space home (I still have a couple of boxes at my mom's house which I really should fetch). Not pictured are the five boxes of books we still need to get rid of. No REAL organization, though there are clusters--short bookcase is mostly kids' books and mass market SF. Brown bookcase is mostly review copies. It's hard, because we've lived in tiny apartments for the last four years--and we want to get a house at some point, and so in some ways it seems futile to do a large scale sorting. We HAVE recently realized that we probably have just about every Stephen King novel between us. Two copies of The Stand. Neither of us would part with "ours."

(I also have a nook library of around 200 books.)

Am now feeling very self conscious about tchatkes. Hmm. Must clean.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:46 PM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

My bookshelf is always changing, it used to be ten times this size, but times have changed and I've become more focused and less attached. Here's an annotated picture.

I am proud to say I have read these books cover to cover (except the optical computation section), and I have worked through the many of the textbooks.
posted by fake at 6:07 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Okay, here's a link to a bunch of shelves in my house. Except for literature, none of the sections are alphabetical by author. Instead I take a more taxonomic approach by lumping things together because they have similar characteristics. And I never have to "find" anything. I know where everything is.

This is almost everything in our house. It excludes a bunch of old and delicate children's books I put in storage once I had real kids, and I didn't show a few of the units that contain books we're selling online. I also skipped the kids rooms because, well, they're asleep. But it probably represents a majority of the books in our house. And as I mention in the details within the set, this is probably my favorite shelf and it's hidden in a corner of the front room among some innocent looking nick-nacks.
posted by Toekneesan at 6:32 PM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

I moved into an apartment with one build in bookshelf and at first I thought that might be enough. Now I've gotten to the point where I do tech support work and get paid in bookshelves... Aside from cookbooks which are in the kitchen, my little Jessamyn West (not me) altar, and some big reference sets [OED, EB IX] which are in my bedroom along with my to read pile (general) and to read pile (night time), this is about what my public bookshelves look like.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:33 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Here's a few of them -- still disorganized thanks to the move.
posted by safetyfork at 7:06 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

We've moved so much on 3 continents that most of our books are in storage after Mrs A. refused to pack them for yet another move. Kindles are a boon to the frequently mobile.
posted by arcticseal at 7:08 PM on January 10, 2012

Bedroom: hardback fiction, memoirs, art history, general history, music, curiosa, sci-fi, and paperback miscellany; office/library: travel, design, fashion, biographies, philosophy, lit crit, paperback lit, and comics/graphic novels; living room: poetry, Library of America, and collectible books; hallway: exhibit catalogs, old magazines, and miscellaneous; half-bath, "to-read" fiction and magazines.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:39 PM on January 10, 2012

Fiction and hardcover history in the living room (cookbooks and vastly oversized books as well). International Security Policy and religion in the hallway. Softcover history in the office. Economics, statistics and reference in the aobve the desk within easy reach. Not shown: three other bookshelves of miscellaneous plus the bed is sort of built on bookshelves filled with genre fiction, though most of mine got pushed out to make room for grad school books so I sleep on a collection of vampire books.
posted by shothotbot at 7:40 PM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

What's this "organize"? Most of the books are simply left where they were when we moved in 6 years ago. That said, here's mine:

Bedroom/Office/Office 2/Office 3/Living Room

Not shown- 2 basement shelves of academic and social work materials.

great post, BTW. This is fun!
posted by 40 Watt at 7:58 PM on January 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

My non-fiction books are arranged by topic: history, travel, writing and editing, etc. Fiction is arranged in large categories: children's books, science fiction and fantasy, mysteries, Arthurian legend, all others. I keep books by a single author together, but otherwise it's pretty free-form within the large groupings.

Here are most of my bookshelves. The bookshelf headboard of my own bed isn't included - I don't have a current photo - but there are only about 12 books there. I also have an end table/bookshelf in the living room that has some oversized books.
posted by jeri at 8:57 PM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

After taking a photo of my two bookcases (Flickr, annotated) I'm kind of surprised how well organized my books are. Cookbooks in the kitchen, one bookcase for reference works/DVDs/games, etc. One side of the freestanding bookcase for English language books - mostly fantasy - the other for Swedish and Chinese. The fiction is sorted into sections by overarching genre, followed by author and series, and then by book size so that it will look OK.

I had to downsize from three gigantic bookcases when I got divorced, and only kept things I absolutely HAD to have for sentimental value. I think that's why there are a lot of series but not so many single books. I have bought a lot of Kindle books (and borrowed a lot of both electronic and physical books from the library) over the last few years, but I've only bought a few old scifi books and one or two new books really... I didn't include the tall stack of books on the nightstand here - that's mostly library books or new-Christmas-gift-books I will read before placing on a shelf (and will only keep if I really, really liked them, otherwise they go to a used book store or to friends).
posted by gemmy at 9:14 PM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh yeah- also missing is the kids' bookshelf in their room which houses enough picture books and childrens' fiction to stock a small library branch, but they're sleeping so I'm not about to waltz in and take a picture.
posted by 40 Watt at 10:01 PM on January 10, 2012

Generally by genre and/or purpose. The books that inform my brain and dissertation stay in one place (if I haven't squirreled them away in someone else's office and lost them accidentally). The books that inform my heart stay close to my bedside. The entertaining books (Extraordinary Chickens, Uncle Shelby's ABZs, my droplet-stained copy of Practical Analysis Of Urine) are someplace where visitors might run into them.

I've learned to put bookshelves in hallways and entryways to leave more space in actual rooms. It's working out quite well. Now to figure out how the hell to manage those heavily-annotated PDFs from grad school.
posted by gusandrews at 10:07 PM on January 10, 2012

The Books

Upstairs holds a case of nonfiction, haphazardly sorted by subject (along with my wifes books) and a case of fiction sorted by Author, first by country of origin, then alphabetically (with Scotland being granted independence). Most of these have been read , but not all, by a long shot. Older books in any case.

Downstairs holds a bookcase of poetry along with reference books, unread overflow and small to miniature books. The other set of shelves holds the newer (mostly) unread stock, divided between fiction and non-fiction along with graphic novels, illustration art books and over size. Poetry is organized along the lines of the (upstairs) fiction, unread stuff in not really sorted except that food lives together (next to sex).
posted by tallus at 10:52 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

OK, here's most of everything. I'm way to tired to do this right, or to show you right now every single one of the awesome things I have in that stolen magazine rack, but it's mostly fiction on one case and non- on the other and then someone else's books in the fancy white one and then our proudest in the built-in living room thingy. Fiction's by binding (Cloth & QP, then Mass Market, then Modern Library) and then by author and then also separated for poetry and anthologies. Non-fiction is arranged magically. katilla's books are strictly by author, and I can't remember how she ordered the front case, but it looks pretty!
posted by carsonb at 11:21 PM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Since preteen years I have always had this image of a library type room in some future house, with cushions and lamps and comfy reading chairs and a snackbar/fridge.
posted by infini at 3:05 AM on January 11, 2012

Thanks, this thread has made me tidy my room so I don't have to wade through the book swamp to get out of the door...
posted by pmcp at 4:45 AM on January 11, 2012

I have just recently moved.
I have 700 + books randomly in bookcases. Except for the surrealists and related who have their own bookcase. Travel is vaguely sorted. Still have a long way to go. History, Historical novels, General fiction, reference. I think I'll wait until I get back in the spring.
posted by adamvasco at 6:01 AM on January 11, 2012

This is inspirational because I moved a few months ago and I'm just starting to unpack the books. It's less impressive than it sounds because there's only one bookcase for 2 people right now and it's generally sorted by mine/his and subject area. There's also his to-read pile by the nightstand while I have several books flattening my scarf collection.

But the dream is to finally be able to get the 4 bookshelves out of storage and turn part of the dining room into a pseudo-library. Hopefully by then I'll also have figured out in what way I should double-stack the paperbacks.
posted by zix at 7:33 AM on January 11, 2012

Here are most of mine: 1, 2 & 2a, 3.

They are in no order, except cookbooks, art books and various miscellaneous reference stuff (not included in these pics). We haven't really acquired new physical books for a few years though, since we got a Kindle... and there's no more room anyway. This is a very small percentage of all the books we've owned, since we've moved a few times, once overseas.
posted by taz (staff) at 8:05 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

At the moment, since my boyfriend moved in a year and a half ago, mine aren't organized in any fashion except that the big ones are on tall shelves and the short ones are on short shelves. But they used to be organized by color. I never understand the people who say "But how do you find anything?"—for me, it's the only way I can reliably find things. I can't remember authors or titles well, but book covers embed themselves in my consciousness so well that I can identify a book that has just a corner showing from half a car away on the subway.

The only thing that tripped me up sometimes were those sneaky Penguin paperbacks with their uniformly orange spines. But eventually I just knew which of my books were Penguins.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:02 AM on January 11, 2012

Okay, a couple more. Backside of fiction, girls' rooms, bathroom.
posted by Toekneesan at 9:49 AM on January 11, 2012

Living room (sort-of organised, by size and then subject);
Setup with fishtank (not really organised at all).

We also have five half-height bookcases filling up anywhere there's space in the rest of the house. And this is after the pre-move book cull!
posted by Catseye at 10:52 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

We are currently having technical difficulties, but I am thoroughly enjoying this and will swing by later to play. "You show me yours and I'll show you mine" has long been a favourite game...
posted by peagood at 12:04 PM on January 11, 2012

Since going Kindle I've not read too many paper based books, but I still have a few around and my SO hasn't yet had a chance to unpack and put hers away in a suitable place but here are the wine & collectibles books in my office. Here's everything else that isn't on the Kindle.

Beyond the separation of reference books staying in my office and everything else going in the living room there isn't much of an organizational system. Oh, but I do group all the travel books together.
posted by FlamingBore at 12:30 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Quick-and-dirty photo of my roomie's and my "library," with a few notes. There are bookshelves elsewhere too, but that's the main repository. I did a big cull last year (a few hundred books donated to the Friends of the Library's used book store), so it's down to a pretty reasonable number.

(Except that I seem to think I need to own all the film/tv sheet music ever produced. The song from Disney's Der Fuehrer's Face? Check. A songbook of music from The Flying Nun? Yup. A disco remix of the theme from the 1978 version of Lord of the Rings? Got it covered!)

Roomie's books are very logically ordered: fiction by author's last name, non-fiction loosely grouped by theme, fantasy/series all together. Mine are a little more haphazard; I've got the color coding going for some of them, just because I like the way it looks, and then little pockets of groupings by author, subject, and/or size. I have a pretty good sense of where most things are, but it wouldn't make much sense to the casual observer.
posted by alyxstarr at 4:35 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

My paper books are all in boxes right now - we moved six weeks ago and the room that is to be the library had a mold problem, which is fixed, but there's still a giant hole instead of a wall, so my books will be in boxes for awhile yet. Cookbooks are unpacked in the kitchen and one box of Lois McMaster Bujold and Kage Baker has been unpacked in the bedroom since evidently I can't live without them. I used to organize alphabetically by author, but my husband thinks that's too OCD, so until we moved I was organizing by author, but then grouped authors by genre and within each genre, no particular order. "Really tall books" is its own genre.

But I can post my organization system for Kindle. "URB" is my publishing company, and I don't actually have 4 books that could be categorized as vampire Lolita books, more's the pity. Those are source material for a novel I'm picking away at. Likewise the polar bear thing.
posted by joannemerriam at 4:41 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have so enjoyed snooping, everyone. Thank you! This is one of my favourite things, much like how when I walk the dog I like to look at people's gardens and maybe have a lingering glance from the sidewalk through their living room windows to see what colour their living room is and if they have any noticeable art or collections.

Toekneesan, I think I could very happily spend hours wandering around your house.

After my cat indicated he'd like me to leave so he could attend to his privates earlier, I walked around and dusted all the things I noticed needed dusting after looking at my pictures. So thank you for that too.

I also realized that our books are organized primarily as to where and how we use them. If I like a recipe, I hand-write it and put it in a plastic sleeve and put it in a drawer in the kitchen. If I like a craft, I print it out or sketch it and put it with the supplies needed to make it, so I don't have many books to organize there, though I read a lot about those things too. I also have waaaaay too many books mainly because I love children's illustrators so much, and looking at them makes me happy.

So, here they are, for the most part, with the best descriptions I could jot down before the sleepytime tea kicked in.
posted by peagood at 7:03 PM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

One more - sorry! But this is one of my favourite bookcases in the house - the discovery/comfort reads one!
posted by peagood at 7:35 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

This seems appropriate.
posted by bardophile at 6:05 AM on January 13, 2012

I'm late. But, books!

I have a reading nook :D (That pic was taken before I painted another wall; looks like this now, still some paint removal and then more painting to do). The books in those shelves are: French literature on the top shelves, more French, lots of Japanese, and some Chinese literature on the shelves beneath, then some academic stuff on the left and knick-knacks on the right, and the bottom visible shelf is all reference works. English on the left, then French, ancien français (Old French), Latin, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Finnish, followed by some mythology & symbolism references. My monster dictionaries are on the floor next to my PC (not shown :) ).

Then, behind my couch is the requisite Expedit bookcase. Top left: photo albums. Two of them are empty, I keep thinking I'll print more photos but never get around to it. That's all I have. (Parents hold my childhood photos hostage, yearbooks included, except for about twenty photos that were originally a gift to my ex-family-in-law, who kindly said I should keep them.) Second and third top nooks: knick-knacks, some handmade. Fourth top nook: Japanese textile arts references and how-to books. Second row down, first and second nooks: fairy tales & mythology. Third nook: Japanese patchwork magazines (OMG I love these). Fourth nook: hand sewing notions. Third row down, first nook: city and country guides and maps. Oregon ones strewn on top so I can whip them out and say "This is where I grew up!" when needed. Second nook: art books. Third nook: piano scores. (I studied piano for a long time and have a digital one now.) Fourth nook, hidden: English-language quilting magazines and French-language Burda sewing magazines. Bottom row, first nook: the heavy art books. Second nook: here's an original one, Sotheby's auction catalogues for subjects I love :) I worked at Sotheby's in Monaco off and on (filled in for a woman who was often absent) for a year and a half. They let me take home extra catalogues I wanted. Lots of things you don't see in commercial art books. The bottom two nooks are hidden, and hold various DIY and technical reference books. Also stuff like the handbook for my HP48G calculator, my Nikon D40 manual, phone manuals, etc.

Not shown are cookbooks in the kitchen, a built-in unit with 5 shelves that holds my manga (bonus: Maine Coon kitten – also, I made those bunnies from patterns in one of the Japanese patchwork mags), and a shelf in my bedroom where I had put clothes, but after finishing my Masters degree last September, I had to repurpose it to house more books: Native American works, past to present, and historical works dealing with Native American issues. I plan to reorganize things so those are in the main area, since I still come back to them often (they'd been on the floor in front of my couch before).

In general, how my books are organized: overall, by language/country/subject, and within those areas, in alphabetical order by author name, except for the magazines, which are ordered by publication date, and except for language reference books, which generally follow the Dictionary/Thesaurus/Grammar/Etymology/Other order.
posted by fraula at 3:21 AM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have books everywhere. In every room. Most of my bookcases are small, so things get spread throughout the house in patterns not entirely rational to anyone other than me. In general, I try to stick with loose alphabetical (though I toy with color from time to time)l, except for the books I use for work and the immediate too-read pile (neither of which are pictured here, because they are a complete disaster).
posted by thivaia at 9:58 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

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