My sister has several shelving units of books at my parents’ house. I love going into that room and just scanning over the things she’s collected. I’m jelly of such a wonderful library. I keep wanting a whole wall of bookshelves in a room in my house. I don’t even care what room. And if it has one of those slidey-ladders that you can ride across the room on a track, so much the better.
Right now, I have two bookcases in The Blue Room. I had, in past, arranged the books on one of the bookcases in order of colour. Stupid Pinterest. Don’t get me wrong – it looked great, my Pride bookcase, but it wasn’t super practical for finding things. I decided to move all the furniture in the Blue Room this weekend, which meant taking all the books off the Pride bookcase. I put them all back into different groupings. All my Gregory Maguire, Rowling, Christopher Moore, and Tomie Depaola are together. All Mike’s woodworking books are together. All the fairy tales and children’s books. I wanted to cull the books some, too, while I was doing this, so I could have space on the shelves for not-book things – like a copper piggybank, and a glass sphere full of the biggest pieces of beach glass that won’t fit into my Krakken rum bottles. There’s a dichotomy of desire for my sister’s library and a desire to have minimalist, lovely clean shelves.
When Child was in kindergarten or maybe grade 1, he had to sort things, and didn’t see the point of the effort. Why would one need to sort things? I said that you needed to be able to collect like things into groups. He understood that, for example, you could sort coins into denominations, and there could be a bigger sort, such as “things that one puts in their pocket” that might be sorted into coins (as a whole un-sorted criteria), buttons, rocks, and Pokemon Cards. But he didn’t get that the sort buckets needed to make sense. We discussed that in our house, logical groups were Kitchen Things and Bathroom Things. But a logical group might not be to sort everything in our house by colour, lest our Cheerios sit with running shoes, tea towels, and mustard.
To the issue at hand. I found that there are different piles (or shelves) onto which books are sorted. Sets of an author’s entire works (like Maguire and Rowling). Books that are a similar size. Books that have a common theme (like woodworking or children’s fiction). Books with spines that are purple. The two bloody volumes of Norton Anthology of English Literature that carried me through my Bachelor of Arts. I don’t even like the vellum-y paper it’s printed on. Why do they keep getting put back on the shelf? They’re huge, and they’re unlikely to ever be cracked again. But they do fit in the Resource Materials bucket, so…
Putting the books back on the shelf has been an exercise in frustration because they don’t fall cleanly into binary filters. Are the books purple? Y/N. Are the books written for a child? Y/N. Are the books written by Neil Gaiman? Y/N. But what if I have a book written by Neil Gaiman for children, with purple covers? What’s a girl to do? My flowchart just turned into a Gantt chart. Boo. Mike surveys the shelves so he knows where his things are, and then he doesn’t care. Here are books, there are shelves; Put the books on the shelves, like a crazyperson. How will our marriage survive this?
The good news is that I have a pile of books to give away. And I’m pretty sure that PrideShelf is the only way that I can get myself out of the flowchart loop. So if you need the Cheerios, check beside the Lamb.