Tuesday, 29 January 2008

A carpet of books

The books are off the shelves and I can't see the living room floor anymore.

We had a lovely time last night making piles of As, Bs, Cs etc . So many 'H's (a shared student obsession with Robert Heinlein) and 'P's (Still love Terry Pratchett) and only one U (Barry Unsworth - Sacred Hunger which I read lying in a river in the Sumatran jungle while My Man was in bed being horribly ill for three days (I know this because while clearing the shelves I found my Indonesia holiday diary)).

Lots of the books sparked off memories of what we were doing when we read them and how obsessed we were with particular authors at certain times in our lives but would we ever read them again (see Heinlein).

The fiction was pretty easy to sort - alphabetical by author (although we got a bit tired towards the end and I've just found Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks filed under 'G'.)

There was some debate over the definition of a 'classic' - We have a bookshelf that only fits Penguin Classics and I made a separate pile of these to which My Man added several other books which he also deemed to be classics (yes I too loved Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Graham Swift's Waterland - but they don't physically fit on the shelf!)

Biggest cause of discussion was the non-fiction. I have an extensive collection of Reference books, for my work, on the shelves above my desk. They are arranged in 'most used ones nearest to hand' order. The rest of the non-fiction is scattered haphazardly around the house.

In an attempt at order I made 3 broadly grouped piles of 'Arts and Social Sciencey stuff', 'Science and Nature and Machines' and 'Everything Else'. I went to make a cup of tea and came back to find thirty-six separate piles, labelled 'Environmental Ecology', 'Political Science', 'History-Modern', 'History-Medieval', 'Meteorology', 'Popular Science', 'Travel-Britiain', Travel-Abroad, 'Maps' etc, etc.

I trained and worked as a librarian years ago but never really got into the whole fine tuning of cataloguing (tending instead towards the, admittedly frustrating, 'it's a big blue book with silver writing on the spine - you know the one', approach.) It was one of the reasons for my career change (that and an offer to work as a gardener in Tuscany). Anyway, I think My Man missed his true vocation. I'll be getting him some Dewey Decimal stickers for his birthday.

Didn't find that missing library book but have tagged seven books that I am prepared to part with via Bookmooch. If you haven't already discovered this site its worth a look. Its seems a great way of exchanging books (and cheaper in the long run than Amazon Marketplace).

Now, where has he put Worms Eat My Garbage? I'm sure it should be at 631.875 (Composting), but as he is very fond of our friends in the wormery I had better check under 636.08 (Pets), where I have a horrible feeling I might also find Hugh Fearlessly Eats it All

(only joking Hugh we love you really).



I work as a librarian, and can't help organising our bookshelves at home every now and then...very satisfying! I hope you've found your carpet again :)

HelenMH said...

Great photo! I could spend hours sitting among the piles of books and just browsing! I also used to work in a (academic) library. It was amazing the number of students who would come in and ask for 'that big green economics book - you know the one ...'