More Readers Rave About Their Libraries – Part II

Readers Rave About Their Libraries – Part I

ATBF #276, Sept 2007

ATBF Archives Forum…see topics for ATBF 276

From Gerrie (
After reading the numerous comments about how all of us romance readers have catalogued our piles, I couldn’t help but want to give voice to my own methods.

I’ve been reading romance now for over 20 years and, needless to say, I’ve accumulated alot. I may be one of the world’s worst collectors with a library that pushes 4,000. Volume alone demands that I keep them in some sort of order or lose any ability to deal with the numbers. Over the years I’ve tried various ways, but have come back to a system that is not as modern as most, but works for me.

Initially I kept a running list in a spiral notebook of titles by author, leaving a moderate amount of space between each name to add new titles. Worked pretty well for a while, but, mentioning that volume thing again, this quickly began to show growing pains. Things began alphabetically, but adding new authors demanded new pages and well, I’m sure you get it.

After that system broke down I moved along to the card file system, a newer and definitely better way to keep them all straight and make updates easy and painless. One card per author listing all titles owned. After reading an offering I would highlight the title, give it a 1-5 number rating and indicate if I had traded it back in at the used bookstore or not. No indication of trade on a highlighted book meant that it was good enough to be labeled a keeper (not an unimportant status considering the need for space that I have). This system really worked for me the longest for its simplicity alone. Problems didn’t begin to rear their ugly head until reissues of backlists by major authors began to occur with a vengeance. I fell into the same old trap that all of us who are glommers do — purchasing repeats of titles already owned. That got me, in a big way! The only thing to prevent this was to have some sort of listing with me when I went into the bookstore. The problem with the cardfile was that it was cumbersome and definitely a pain if dropped! Children only added to the dropsy factor!

In an effort to solve all problems, I moved back to the notebook method, with a major change, I switched from a spiral notebook to a small (half-size) binder. I could insert new authors easily since, now, the pages were insertible. Worked like a dream. Easily portable, no dropsy problems and updates smoothly made.

With the addition of a computer to our household, I too wanted to enter the new age and keep my beloved books on file. Unfortunately the data base thing just wasn’t the answer in this household. My husband, being an engineer, needed major file space to run complex software and also, being the individual that he is, couldn’t keep himself from purchasing new and fun software (he’s as bad with the software as I am with the books). All of this resulted in his making occasional purges to free up room. Unfortunately one of the items purged tended to be my bookfile. You can rant and rave at the unfairness of it all, but in his view his needs and the children’s needs superceded mine. In the interest of marital bliss, I gave up trying to re-enter my listing (that size thingee made it quite a job).

I’ve stuck with the binder method for years now. I can haul it with me to the darndest places (let’s face it, we’re not always conveniently located to the computer screen), I don’t have to wait in line to get on the system, and n obody in the household dares to fiddle with it. That adds up to perfection for me! Now if I could just insure permanence in case of fire (vbg)!

From Natalie (
I read with interest your system for tracking your books. I guess great minds think alike as so many of your readers use systems also. I keep mine on my computer and have for about 13 years. . .when we purchased our first computer and I figured out how to use the data base program, before that I used index cards just like the “real libraries”. I keep my tbr stash in a plastic under the bed storage box. This way they are close at hand and the Christmas gift (a puppy) doesn’t get her little paws on any.

I have also discovered over my many years of romance reading that I hate to loan my books to friends to read – what if they don’t return them or even worse, give them to someone else?

From Joycelyn (
I too employ a systematic way of storing/filing my books. Here’s how I did it

  • On Excel, I created a database with the following info –
    • Title
    • Author
    • Time Era (I almost exclusively only read historical-medieval)
    • Date Bought
    • Date Read
    • Date(s) Re-Read
    • Customer Delight Rating (1-5 stars, 5 being the best)
    • Status: Keeper, Trade In, To be Glommed, Blacklist for X number of months
    • Overview:
      • Names of hero/heroine
      • Series (Y/N)
  • The actual book shelf is filed alphabetically by author in this color coded order –
    • Keepers
    • Trade Ins
    • To Be Glommed
    • TBR (hardly have this)
  • The books are as immaculate as the day they were first bought. I have “The Rules” on how to take care of these treasures. . . LOL
  • My database will print out a monthly or quarterly report for those in status of Blacklisted, Keepers, and/or To Be Glommed in case of “dry” months

Oh, I also keep a journal for costs – I buy my books mostly new, once in a while I’ll hunt down the UBS (Used Bookstore) and I’ll compare my costs per year. I average about $800 – $900/year. . . I think this is all for now that I could think of. . . I know there are other software packages out there best suited for book filing, but I like the spreadsheet format of Excel…

From Patti (

I color code my books. Brown are the books to be read in the bookshelf in the hallway. Blue are the keepers in my nightstand on my side of the bed. Tan are the books to be read in the nightstand on my husband’s side of the bed. Green are the books to be read in the boxes in the sewing room. Black are the books I have read that are returned to my friends who loan me their books. Green are the books I loan out. I sort by Author’s last name, first name, and Title. I rate from 1 to 5. Pink are the books I have traded in. But I like your idea of adding a column for type of romance and if the book is part of a series. Like you I do not dog leaf the pages I take good care of the book. But I do only buy paperbacks because I read in bed and fall asleep with the book in my hands. There has been several time my husband has to take the book out of my hands and put on the nightstand.

From Jeri (
Organizing Books – now here’s a topic I can relate to. My husband and I have over 6000 books, with more being added all the time. At one time we had bookcases all over the house, but it got to the point where we had so many that we really needed a library. Now we have two rooms of bookcases in the (finished) basement and only a few odd books that are kept on display upstairs. I have a shelf for my current selection of TBR books, but most books (including those I haven’t read yet) are in the “main” library.

They are stored by category and author, but not alphabetically. Yet. I’ve been thinking about it, as I can always find the authors I have several books by, but the odd ones can take a bit of a search.

We have a book catalogue on the PC, with author, title, price, hardcover or paperback, fiction or nonfiction, category, and date (only used for antique books). This year I have started a second list of books I’ve -read-, which includes ones borrowed, traded back at the used bookstore, and so on. Oh, we also catalog audiobooks (separate catalogue).

I only lend books to a very select group of people who know how I expect them to be treated. In fact, I used to show off the library to visitors but have stopped doing so to a certain extent because I didn’t want to be asked to lend books out.

From Blythe (
I had to laugh when I read about your elaborate book organizing system. I have one too, and your comments made me realize how much pleasure I get just from organizing my books. I have two separate cuboards: one for keepers, and one for books I haven’t read. The books in the keeper cupboard are organized by author. The TBR books are in piles based on setting (primarily they are westerns and regencies). I also have a computer database where I record books I want to buy and have bought. I keep track of author, title, setting, publisher, date of publication, date I purchased the book, date I read the book, and whether I kept the book. Obsessive? Maybe, but I really enjoy doing this. When I was a teenager, I did it all longhand in a notebook!

From Cathy (
I have my books on a data base on my pc, also. The categories I use are: Author last name, first name, title, date published, last read, genre, rating, notes (a few words about the book, for example “2nd in a series of 3”) I have over 400 books right now.

My bookshelfs in my bedroom are overflowing, and I do have some downstairs that I have yet to read that are not on my data base yet.

I also keep a list on of the books that I have read each year. This is a quick reminder of what I read each year, and also how many I read each year. I seem to average between 75 and 100 per year.

Although I love my books, I do bend the corners down to mark my place, as bookmarks always seem to come out and I hate losing my place.

Maybe someday I’ll trade some of them in at the used book store, but that would mean that I would have to go through them all again. . .and I just don’t have the energy right now!

From Mary Ann (
I am delighted to read about your system for keeping track of books. It is very similar to mine. My friends all chuckle and wonder why I’m so thorough regarding my romance novels when the rest of my life is so laid back. Besides the desire to get a handle on the good and bad stuff out there, so I don’t waste my time, I also enjoy the process of organizing and reviewing what I read. I keep my data on 4×6 cards. My top card is a list of books I’m looking for. Initially I used B. Dalton Bookstore’s (free) romance guide that comes out every two months. Now I’m including books from the 4 &5 heart reviews at The Romance Reader. I’m finding I agree with your evaluations quite closely (we’re so smart!) The second card is a list of authors not to read anymore. . .Considering the amount of money I’m spending on books, it only makes sense (to me) to be as organized as possible. Besides, I like the process. (Kinda like a quilter organizing all her fabrics!)

I’ve thought of putting all my info in my computer. But with reviews on books of over 200 authors (I just counted them, good grief, I didn’t realize it’s that many!) the job would be huge, and I like handling the cards.

When my son left I took over his bookcases and have turned his room into my archives. I too am very careful with them. Paperbacks are fragile over the long haul.

Sorry to go on for so long, but you made me feel so good as I read your January 10 News & Views.

Keep up the good work. You’ve got a great thing going!

From Kelly (
I can’t believe I finally sort of met someone that does almost the exact same logging system of Romance books as me. My family thinks I am a little strange. I also have my books logged in my computer. I am 24 years old and I have been reading romance novels since I was thirteen. My first book was Fifteen by Beverly Cleary and ever since then I have been on a roll. I had to start to log them in the computer because I would buy doubles and halfway through the book everything started to sound familiar and then I would realize that I read it before. Unfortunatly I am not like you, my recall of a story is not to good, once I put down a book I forget the story because I have read so many. You ever hear of a chain smoker, well I am truly a chain reader, the minute I finish a book within 20 minutes I am reading another book.

When I remember a book, that to me means that the story was excellent because I have read sooooo many books.

For Christmas I received this enormous box full of Romance novels. I would scan the internet and review the book reviews and add certain ones to my list and I got them for Christmas. The best gift I got.

Well it’s great to hear from someone who loves true romance like yourself and your site on the internet is awesome – keep up the excellent work.

Happy reading from your romance twin.

From R Jones (
I am an avid reader and although I read more than anyone I know (and teased unmercifully about it), I cannot believe so many people take so much time to catalogue their books! I read an average of 3-5 books each week. I buy all of them, but I don’t keep all of them. At any given time I have about 300 books, I limit myself to three book cases, and I do not have a TBR case, rather a small pile. I am obsessive about reading and I buy about 3-5 books at a time, and including any non-fiction history books, I read them and then shelve them. The books are shelved by genre, and within each genre, alpha by author, then by title. I have a photographic memory so that when I see a new book I picture the shelf that genre is on and each book on it to see if I have it or another by the author. This usually works unless the cover has been changed. For books that are not re-readable, I donate them to the library so that I can keep under my limit. I am very impressed by the organization of my fellow book lovers.


Readers Rave About Their Libraries – Part I

ATBF #276, Sept 2007

ATBF Archives Forum…see topics for ATBF 276