Some people shelve their IMG_1455books by color. I wish I were that creative. Instead my books sit on the shelves in boring alphabetical order–by author’s last name. When I first organized them years ago, I tried not to squish them so I would have room to add more. Eventually, though, the shelves became full. Then I began to lay books horizontally across the place they should be. Every few years, I dust, add the horizontal books, and expand forward onto a new shelf.

Only books I’ve read go on the built-in shelves. The ones I haven’t yet read used to go on the floor, but now go on this very cool skinny bookshelf from Design Within Reach. It’s free-standing, and the books go on it horizontally. For a picture, look on my Reading List page. I tell myself I can’t buy any new books unless there’s a place to put them on this bookshelf, which currently holds 87 books and is full.

As I look around my study now, the horizontal spaces are almost full as well. It’s getting to be that time, but I’m running out of “new shelves.” So not only is it that time, it’s also time to weed/cull/purge.IMG_2093

Last November in The Well-Tended Bookshelf, Laura Miller wrote that there were “two general schools of thought on which books to keep”: you are what you’ve read or you are what you will read. Either way, the bookshelf serves as some sort of self-portrait. Anna Quindlen wrote, “The purse is the mirror of the soul.” Yes, so also is my bookshelf.

If only long ago, I had only kept books

  • that I wanted to reread
  • that were signed
  • that were special because of who gave them to me, and
  • for favorite authors only, all their books

Really? I ask myself. Maybe.

On Bibliobuffet, I found a link to a blog about bookshelves. Bibliobuffet also lists 17 organizations where you can send books you no longer need or want in your libraries. You can also exchange books on BookMooch.

How do you shelve? Do you keep all your books?

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