I am about to let you into my inner book craziness. Prepare yourself for what you are about to see.
About 5 or 6 years ago, the books were overflowing in the linen closet outside of my room at my parent's house. Books were in piles all over in the closet, to the point that I had no idea what was three stacks IN on the shelves. I needed a way to organize and keep track of my books in a way that suited my needs. I asked my older brother for help and he created a spreadsheet for me in Excel that I have been using ever since.
When I first set it up, it was a time-consuming process that took me hours of sitting on the floor outside my closet entering information. Now, when new books make their way into my possession, it takes a matter of minutes to log the information in, color code it, and sort them into their homes in the spreadsheet. Here is a small portion of what what the spreadsheet looks like (I believe that you can click on the pictures to make them easier to see):
The top row are my categories and from left to right they include title, author (by last name), pages, genre, rating, the last month/year I read the book, and a column for who it is lent to. If a book is highlighted in blue, it means I haven't read it. And it shouldn't surprise you to see that a lot of things in my spreadsheet are blue. :) I am a book collecter. I can't help it.
I also highlight books in green if I am currently reading them. Books in purple are lent out (I have a book that has been in a friend's possession since 2007. I should probably give it up for lost).
The spreadsheet also helps me keep track of what I have by author. If you look at the picture above, you'll see that I own three editions of Wuthering Heights. One is a paperback copy that I have had for years. One is the Penguin clothbound edition I acquired last year. The third, labeled the "1959" edition, is one I found in my grandparents' basement when we were getting ready to sell their house. Obviously, I don't need three editions, so I will most likely cull the paperback version at some point.
One thing I truly LOVE about the spreadsheet is that by manipulating the "data" then "sort" options, I can reconfigure the database to sort by genre first. Below is my collection of Chicano Literature:
I can also sort for my individual Shakespeare titles. Scary how blue it is at the moment:
However, while there are a lot of things I love about my spreadsheet system, there are a lot of problems. First, I am debating getting rid of that whole "ratings" column because I hate assigning stars to how I feel about books. Nowadays, I just plug in whatever I feel like putting there to take up space.
I also have a hard time defining the genres of what I read. In some cases, a novel can be many things, so how specific should I get when I categorize it? I could go crazy in that area, and I don't want to go there.
But the biggest problem right now is that my spreadsheet is incorrect. You might recall that I had some computer issues last spring and I lost a lot of old files (including a whole slew of my personal writing). While I thought the database/spreadsheet was intact, since reorganizing my bookshelves and the few books that ARE on display, I have noticed a lot of gaps. There are many, many titles missing from my spreadsheet. So while my spreadsheet says I currently have about 1310 books in my possession, I know I have more. When I wrote my "About Me" page nearly a year and a half ago, I had 1200. Clearly I have acquired more than 100 books in that time span (you've seen my book loot. I have serious acquisition problems).
There are also a great deal of books that I have read at some point that are currently blue. A good example is all that Shakespeare up there. I have read MORE of those than what it shows, but because of the loss, all that data is lost! Sadness!
So now I am going to start the long process of re-entering my books and checking that they are all accounted for. I haven't done this since I created the spreadsheet so long ago. I am sure there are some books that have disappeared somewhere, and others that I am going to get rid of. I am starting with the books that are currently on shelves (mainly the classics I am reading for my project and an assortment of YA and favorites). After that, each box that is in storage will find its way out so I can "check in" each title.
And this is where I need your help. Do you see anywhere that I can improve my system? I'm not talking about transferring everything over to Goodreads, but adapting the spreadsheet in any way (I love GR, but I prefer it for the community aspect, not for organizing my library. Sounds crazy, but that's how I feel).
Additionally, do any of you have crazy book organization systems like mine? What works for you?
But most importantly...how do you keep track of what you already own? One of my problems is "forgetting" that I own a title. This often happens when I am at used book sales, but sometimes, with such a large collection, I can't keep everything straight. Any ideas? tips? Want to send me on that show Intervention? I totally understand. :D
Thanks you guys! I'm looking forward to what you have to say!