Sunday, August 8, 2021

Booking around

It all started when Don idly began selecting a few history books off our shelves and rearranging them so they were grouped together.

Arranging our library by category is something we had in mind to do anyway. Already there's been a couple times we wanted to locate a specific book, but it was lost amidst a sea of volumes. Rearranging the library seemed like something we could do at a slow and leisurely pace.


The problem, you see, is **I** got involved. Next thing poor Don knew, I had torn the library apart and had stacks of books piled everywhere.

We didn't really know how many categories we had, so we – or actually, I (since by this point Don had wisely retired to his computer) – began grouping them in similar categories to see what we ended up with and how best they could be shelved.

I pulled down volume after volume, making piles as I went.

Categories quickly became apparent. American History. World History. Woodworking. Sociology. Science. Et cetera.

I also harvested books from the two stand-alone bookcases to group in with the rest.

It took two days of sorting, but at last I finished.

I slapped temporary masking-tape labels on the shelves until we learn where the categories are. We ended up with the following categories:

• American history

• World history

• Woodworking/mechanics/repair

• Geology

• General science

• Homesteading

• Rural living

• Preparedness

• Simplicity

• JRR Tolkien / Bill Bryson (one whole shelf)

• Sociology

• Child raising / education

• Writing / book collecting

• Finance / frugality

• Medical reference

• Religion

• Politics / government

• Random shelves containing uncategorized fiction and nonfiction


The standalone bookshelves contain many oversized books that won't fit on the narrow shelves, and include such categories as homesteading, decorating, art, humor, photography, history, etc.

Not the most scientific arrangement, perhaps, but it reflects our particular tastes and interests.

Some series don't need regrouping, such as my beloved Harvard classics or the Britannica Great Books collection I bought for $3 (for the whole series!) at a library sale, so while I placed them on different shelves, it's hard to miss their location.

The paperback books also have their own shelving unit in our bedroom.

Even though our old house was almost three times the size of our current home, we had no central location where we could house all our books. Instead, they were scattered all over the house. We all had a pretty good idea of where a particular volume or category could be found, but our books were never well organized.

Now they are – and it's a genuine joy to know we can locate something within moments.

I've said for years that the most treasured possession we (collectively) have is our library. That sentiment hasn't changed.


  1. I love that huge bookshelf, Patrice. I'm jealous, actually. I could spend all day in your living room reading and drinking coffee.

  2. Mine are more or less organized into categories as you have laid out here - but I have run out of room and need more shelf space to more correctly organize things at this point.

    It is a project that will quickly develop a mind of its own.

  3. I absolutely love it! I have ours arranged at home and it makes finding specific books a breeze. Great job!

  4. I think that is funny, your tearing the place apart!

  5. Looks good. So how much room on the shelves do you have to get interested in a whole new topic?

    1. I could probably free up one shelf. Fortunately (ahem) there's room in the house for more shelves if need be -- just lower ones (i.e. ones that fit under windows). We'll see if it comes to that.

      - Patrice

  6. Mine were more or less organized by category until I outgrew the space. I use an online book catalog called LibraryThing. You enter the book by ISBN number and can give it a tag (History, Homesteading, etc.). I also put the location. On my main bookshelves, each section is given a letter and then which shelf it's on. On the bookshelves scattered around the house, it's which room it is then the shelf it's on. Makes it much easier to locate my books. With 2450 volumes and counting, I would go crazy trying to remember where they all are.

  7. I love that you have a Tolkien/Bryson shelf, lol - great reads!

  8. I love the post...Love looking at all those books with wonderful pages that turn when reading....Love that you can hop into the stories...Sigh...
    Love from NC,