book stacks Recently, I sorted some of my bookshelves. Truth to be told, I mostly did it in order to procrastinate doing some other work, but when I had finished, I was really pleased: The books looked so neat, with many from the same publishing house standing next to each other, and next time it won’t take me ages to find a specific book. An added bonus, I unearthed my copy of Meg Cabot’s The Boy Next Door, which I had been hunting for the last two years and which I accused both my sister and my father of having borrowed and forgotten to return.

I was so delighted with the result of my sorting fit that I mentioned it the next day at the gym to an acquaintance. The woman smiled and said how pleasing it was to have one’s books sorted, adding that she was sorting hers by color. This left me kind of speechless, partly because my reaction was not a snotty “How can she?!” but a bemused “That’s rather charming.” Mind you, it wouldn’t work for my own collection, because there are far too many books. But really it doesn’t matter how you sort them, as long as you are truly pleased with the result, but for aesthetic and logistic reasons.

I sort my books like this: First I divide them into fiction and non-fiction. The fiction is then divided into literary fiction, genre fiction and children’s books. Literary fiction is sorted by country of origin, and then author’s birthdate. Genre fiction is sorted by genre and subgenre, then alphabetically. My romances and mysteries are shelved in two rows, because I have just too many to fit into my study otherwise. Here, the unread books go in front and the ones I have read in the back row of the same shelf, so that I can find them quickly.

With all these books, my study’s walls look very colorful indeed, and sometimes I wish for a working space with plainer walls (we have that in the living room). But guests usually find the room charming, and I am deeply grateful that I finally have the space to store everything close at hand without having to resort to boxes.

How do you sort your books? Can you store all of them on shelves? What’s your opinion of double (or possibly even triple) rows on a shelf? Do you try to keep one or several rooms (completely or mostly) book-free?

-Rike Horstmann