Sunday, November 18, 2012

Weekly Wrap-up for November 18, 2012: Home Organizing and Bookshelf Questions.

Sometimes it's hard to be a grown-up. You have no one else to get cranky at but yourself when things need to be taken care of around the house. Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who helps out A LOT, but sometimes I get overwhelmed by the amount of cleaning, organizing, and other straightening up tasks I need to do.

I think I push aside household chores for two reasons. One, I hate cleaning. And two, there is always grading and prep work to do. A very big part of me feels like my work obligations come before scrubbing out the fridge...know what I mean? And that doesn't mean we keep a disgustingly dirty apartment, because we don't, but merely that we live in a very disorganized fashion.

Matt and I both hit our breaking points with the function of our apartment. We WERE looking to move elsewhere (I think I mentioned that on twitter). When we moved here two years ago, we were escaping a very shady apartment complex and thought this would be a better option. Well, we knew at the time it was a lot smaller than our previous apartment (by about 350 square feet or so), but we figured we could make it work. We have a lot of...crap and when we moved in, it was a matter of shoving it wherever it fit, including our storage area in the basement. And in the two years since, we've really just been dealing with the items we shoved away in the fast move into this place. So, we began looking for a new apartment, and a more expensive apartment, since we both have new jobs and hey, we could afford it. But after thinking about it long and hard, it didn't make sense for us to move. We decided to stay and save for a house, since that's what we really want.

The deal is that we would change some things about our current living situation. We need to clear out the clutter, remove unwanted items to the trash or to Salvation Army, and upgrade some of our current "old school" furniture in attempts of living like grown-ups.

New entertainment center (HEMNES from Ikea)
We've started the process in our living room by upgrading our entertainment center and getting rid of a massive amount of clutter (when I say clutter, I'm referring to three months worth of mail stacked on a bookshelf-things like ads, newspapers, etc. WHY did we keep all that crap?). A couple weekends ago, we went and picked up the pieces we needed to finish our new entertainment center from Ikea. Matt finally had some time off and assembled the whole thing on Wednesday. I re-organized and re-alphabetized our movies and TV shows and voila, the apartment already looks a lot better (yes, everything on these shelves are DVDs or TV series).

We also cleared out a lot of lingering items taking up residence under our coffee table and just tossed them-there were magazines, receipts, random pieces of paper, etc that just needed to go. Matt also reorganized all the wires associated with all our techy stuff and spent a lot of time wiping down dust, etc (I can't do that these days-aggravates my lungs too much). The result is that we are both insanely happy with the progress in our living room. The next goal is to get rid of our couch and upgrade. Our current couch belonged to my grandmother. It was probably made in the 60s or 70s...and it is the most hideous abomination of burnt orange plaid. Seriously.

We're also working on moving some bookshelves around. We originally had two open bookshelves on either side of our TV for our DVD collection that need a new home (they are against various open walls in the apartment). We're going to be focused on cleaning out out second bedroom "office" to make room for them. That involves the dismantling of a futon and moving Matt's guitars to other places on the walls. But I am excited to be able to put more books out on shelves instead of keeping them in boxes in the closet (where most of my 2,000 books live...).

That brings me, in a very long, rambling, and a roundabout way to my real questions...about organizing my books. My current set-up is two big bookshelves and one skinny, narrow shelf. The two big shelves that are currently in our living room (on the opposite wall than our new entertainment center) currently house my classics (mainly alphabetized by author). The skinny shelf held a lot of hardcover titles-mainly YA (that shelf used to be in that far corner in the picture above, but doesn't fit anymore-it's going to be moved into the second bedroom with the additional two big shelves). I'm not sure how I want to organize all these books. I am keeping my classics out in the main room, but I don't know where to put some of the books...I have "collections" of books that I don't know what to do with (Shakespeare titles, my Penguin and Puffin clothbounds, AND all the new Penguin English Library editions). Do I keep them separate? Do I intermingle them with my other classics? WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

I'm also debating what to do with the two new shelves I get to stock...I was thinking of making one devoted to YA and the other to sci-fi and fantasy? Or should I intermingle and alphabetize by author? Again, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

I'm aware that this whole dilemma makes me sound a bit silly, but book organizing is a serious business and if anyone can help me, it's you folks. You know what it's like, right? :)

I hope you're all having a splendid November (And seriously, how is the month HALF OVER already? How is it Thanksgiving already? WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE?)! Happy Reading!


  1. I'm personally an alphabetical organizer. For a few years there, Jason and I had our three bookshelves split into my books, his books, and the ones that we both wanted, but a few months ago, we got rid of about half our books, leaving us with maybe 300 or so total, and we integrated them all - fiction, nonfiction, poetry, his, mine, etc - into two smaller book cases, all organized by author. I like that. I'm afraid I'm not much one for keeping books longterm. I prefer to cull periodically. Never been good at collecting stuff.

  2. Oooo, pretty! I need a picture of the couch too. :) (I too am a veteran of the Ugly Plaid Couch phase of life.)

    My book system goes largely by subject. I DO keep sets together for the most part--I have a Yale Shakespeare and a Durant world history for example. Literature is shelved alphabetically, fantasy and SF has its own bookshelf and so does my children's/YA lit. There are special shelves for mythology, biography, poetry, essays and letters, reference works, science, housekeeping, religion, and a large history section shelved chronologically.

    Why yes, I am a librarian. How did you know? ;)

  3. keep the classics in their collections and then alphabetically. As for the YA and Sci-Fi, I would do the same, genre based and then alphabetised.

  4. I love your new entertainment centre!

    In terms of organizing books I had the same problem when I moved. I organized everything by genre. My history books all went together but instead of alphabetizing them I put them in chronological order. All my classics are together, all the poetry. I basically have a fiction and a non-fiction bookcase and then everything else within the bookcases is separated accordingly. You should do whatever works for you, whatever makes things easiest to find.

  5. I alphabetise everything but I do keep collections together, because they look so lovely all lined up together on the shelf! Fantasy & sci-fi I would separate.

    I know what you mean about cleaning and getting behind with jobs around the house. We have both spent all day marking books today and neither of us has felt like hoovering etc..

  6. I organize my books by genre and then alphabetically by author. (Exception being that any series is in numerical order). It makes me insanely happy.

  7. LOVE the entertainment center! We need something like that - our DVDs are eating our living room.

    It may not work, depending on how well you know what your books look like, but (with the exceptions of collections like my Penguin classics and B&N Classics, which got their own shelves) when I moved and reorganized, I did everything by color and it looked SO AWESOME, like both interior art and displaying my books. But it wasn't the most useful if it came to finding something quickly, if that's your thing!

  8. I love the Hermes range, it's so elegant. Your room looks wonderful. Personally I put collections in with other classics, organised by publisher because Penguin classics look nice together etc. My other fiction books are organised by author, so I'm biased in the idea of mixing. I find it difficult to sort by genre when so many crossover.

  9. I stick all my fiction together, classics going in with everything else--which I've been rethinking lately, but with some "modern" classics it's hard to decide where they would go if I were to pull classics out.

    I have a "nonfiction" section also alphabetized by author, and then reference, then Sci/Fi Fantasy pulled out separately. I also have a separate religion/religious fiction section. Personally, I prefer to keep my genres separate. As my nonfiction section grows, I'm planning on separating it into sub-sections (poetry/history/general nonfiction/etc). I like the idea of sorting history by chronology rather than author.

    Have fun organizing!

  10. Reading your post and the comments, I realize I'm in the minority here, since my books aren't organized at all. Until my redecorating though, I could have found any book I wanted quite easily, being able to picture their position on my shelves. No-one else can find anything, but I think that's part of the plan since I'm very protective of my books.

    I do admire all your organization, but I think in this house happy anarchy will continue to reign.

  11. I have mine organized by category (classics, YA, nonfiction, GN, fastasy/sci-fi, etc) and then each category is alphabetize by author. I have my pretty Penguin hardcovers on a separate shelf because I just love them. Let us know how you end up doing it!

  12. I have my old Penguins by number in their own area. Any sets go at the beginning of the collection and then all books alphabetised by title excluding words A, An and The. I have reorganised my books other ways but find this way the easiest to recall a specific book when I'm looking for it. Cheers and happy sorting, Pam

  13. I don't know if I'm book-organizing obsessed because I work in a library, or I just enjoy my job because of my bookish ocd. Here's what I do: I have two sets of shelves and a set of built-ins. I keep poetry, plays and short story anthologies across the tops of the shelves. Then non-fiction in loose LC order. Then fiction alpha by author. I have a few presses I collect (NYRB and Virago) and those I pull out and put on the built-ins. My rule is that more than 12 constitutes a collection that can be pulled out separately. If I ever get my oxford or penguin classics to over a dozen then I'll pull those out and put them on my "collections" shelf.

  14. Have you ever observed that no matter how many times you try to organize your things, they still end up everywhere? I live with my parents and I organize our home for them. Unfortunately, they like to leave things everywhere in the house so I have to clean up after them. It's tiring at times, but I like organizing the home anyway. Now, I'm off to buy a few more containers for mom's collection of ceramic dolls.