tisdag 20 november 2012


Yes, well, having exhausted so many systems and themes ... A comment on Facebook stuck with me and led to this: ALL the systems. But a maximum of 42 books in each. Thus:

42 books in alpabetical-by-author. 42 books by number of words in the title. 42 books in random chaos order (they are spread out in horizontal piles all over the shelf, in character). 42 books by number of pages in book. 42 books spine-inwards. 42 books by colour.

Graphic novels staying out of the race... 42 books in chronological order: by the time (on Earth) in which they are set. 42 books alphabetical by the place in which they were printed, town or country. 42 books in numerical order by ISBN. 42 books thematically-by-title-words: place names, from rooms and buildings to worlds. 39 books (workin' on it) thematically by title-words: light/day/sun-to-shadows/night/moon/stars and similar.

40 books (workin' on it; could have filled it easily if not limiting books-per-author) on theme: wolves and werewolves. 28 books (workin' on it; recommendations welcome) featuring Marlowe, Shakespeare, Byron, Keats, Shelley. 42 books in trilogies (poetic interpretation of). Absolute Sandman staying out of the race. A handful of books in alphabetical-by-first-sentence, which is the category I'll now fill with recently-read till it reaches 42.

42 books alphabetical by author's first name. 42 books by weight. 42 books alphabetical by protagonist's name. 42 books with names for titles. 42 books alphabetical by title.

Hopefully the images should be clickable if you want to look closer on titles...

söndag 4 september 2011

Aesthetically combined with ordered chaos

This system turned up after a couple of other systems had failed and my books were basically in complete quiet disarray. I had an idea that I wanted to arrange them aesthetically, but if I would do that with all of them, that accursed symmetry would lurk just around the corner waiting to pounce. So here's what I did:

I ordered a few shelves aesthetically. One with wings on the spines of the books:
one with faces looking at you on the spines, and one with landscapes (more or less):
I also let the leatherbound books stand together on one shelf, and the graphic novels on another.

The rest of the books I put where there was room or let them stand where they happened to be at the moment – and then I organized each single shelf alphabetically by author. The only time I moved them from where chance had left them was to accommodate my one subrule: only one book per author per shelf. (I chose asymmetry over randomness.)
So now it's possible to find books, even if it might take a while (and if I remember what their spines look like), but it's still both asymmetrical and random. I'm a bit pleased. Until next time I need to reorganize.

måndag 29 augusti 2011

Alphabetically by first sentence

This is a system I have done myself, and I'm rather proud of it. From "Abner Marsh rapped the head of his hickory walking stick smartly on the hotel desk to get the clerk's attention." to "Äntligen stod prästen i predikstolen.", it was a system that was unequivocally alphabetical, but still entirely asymmetrical and rather impossible for guests to guess. And it had the exquisite bonus of getting to re-read the beginnings of all my books. Book beginnings are wonderful things. While sorting, I was heard mumbling things like "The music, The Morris, The Mole, The Minotaur, The mice", and I ran several guess-the-book-from-the-beginning-quizzes on my (Swedish-language) book blog. It was great fun, and I can recommend it. The whole story (in Swedish) can be found here.

By first mention of something-or-other in the book

Here's where we open the book and start reading, searching for different types of key words. We have several options, naturally.

Chronologically, for example: by the first mention of a measurement of time that appears in the book. And there are many of those. Day, night, morning, evening, and more specific hours. Months and seasons, years or simply ”it was a long time ago”. I'd be curious to see if there are patterns – if certain genres or authors tend to begin their books at night, for example.

Another option is to search for the first name mentioned, and order alphabetically by them. Complicated by books with no names in them, but they are quite few, after all. One could also search for the first geographical name or word, or perhaps by the first colour mentioned. I'm sure imagination sets the only boundaries.

By the number of books you own by the author

I've tried this one, and it didn't suit me – as I should have known from the start, it was much too symmetrical. Long, even lines of urban fantasy series, Discworld books and graphic novels. But if you like symmetry, go for it! It will quickly show your guests who your favourite authors are.


Organizing your books aesthetically: books that look beautiful together - spines with similar patterns or designs or illustrations or fonts, &c. - stand together.

Alternatively: use the spines' designs to build patterns. You can build stylized pictures or maybe write messages or draw elder signs. One version that was suggested to me was to arrange my books so the shelf would look like the old Swedish tv test image:
Instead, I tried to arrange them into a tapestry of a forest scene.
It didn't work.

Thematically by title words

Fairly related to Conceptual colour order, where you order the books by the colours stated or insinuated in the title. But here you also put in categories e.g. titles that are emotions, titles that are proper names, titles that have numbers in them, and so on. Maybe you can have a section for titles that are adjective+noun (as that is very common), and subdivide them into definite and indefinite, plural and singular. As usual, the system will have to be adapted to your particular collection of books.

I tried this one, and am a little ashamed to say I gave up when I stood there with an armful of books that didn't know where they wanted to go. And another armful that weren't entirely pleased with where I'd put them. And another handful that raised their eyebrows and pointed out that their titles were intentionally ambiguous. And many categories which consisted of only 2 or 3 books.

That's the problem with imperfect systems. They will be imperfect.