April 11, 2006
David Weinberger asks How do you sort your books?, apparently as part of the book he’s writing on classification in the physical world.
It was nice to see that I’m not alone. I’ve always been a bit embarrassed by my organization. My books are roughly organized by the year I last referenced them, and then suborganized by topic in rough order of descending importance. This scheme works because it means I can put my shelves wherever I have room, and not have to clutter any rooms with excess shelves.
I also keep my professional books separate from everything else, but I think that’s mostly a side effect of trying to have books I’m most likely to reference in my office. And since we’ve expanded into two offices (his and hers, you might say), my professional books are, more than ever, organized by the rough year of last reference.
And, of course, I never bother organizing my “to-read” pile. Or, piles, I should say: each pile being organized by the quarter in which I first ordered the books in that pile. That’s probably the most embarrassing part.
It was interesting to hear the idea of organizing your books by the color of the cover. That seems somehow intuitive to me. I often don’t remember the names of books, but I usually remember the color of the spine and the picture on the cover. I’ll have to contemplate that. It would make for a nice visual element.
Of course, knowing my obsessive-compulsive tendencies, I would still never be happy, since I’d never be able to decide whether to place (for example, a book I’m looking at right now) The C++ Standard Library with the gray books (for its cover), yellow books (for its typeface), or orange books (for its neat orange-plated C++ logo on the spine). That’s something that could keep me up nights.