Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Between the Lines: Nicki & The Never Ending Library Reshuffle

Welcome to the first post in my new monthly series Between the Lines with Nicki J. Markus. In these posts I will chat about reading, writing and more, sharing my thoughts on a range of topics. I hope this will provide an opportunity to natter with my readers, rather than feeling like I am only talking at you, so do add your comments below and join in the conversation. To kick us off, today I am going to discuss my book rearranging obsession.


Firstly, let me say that I have a very accommodating husband. When we moved out of the unit he used to own into this, our first house bought together, I told him that what I wanted most in the world was a library/music room—and I got it, complete with custom-built bookshelves.

Back in England, I lived with my parents, and the only area for book storage was the top shelf in my three-door wardrobe. I had to stack books row upon row, so only the front piles were visible. Not easy to find anything that way, as I’m sure you can imagine, and far too easy to forget what I owned and end up buying double copies of texts. (This was also in the time before I starting keeping a record of all the books I owned in an Access database.) As such, my new setup, with proper bookshelves in a wide open space, should be heaven. Right?

Well, yes and no.

The shelves look utterly gorgeous, and I can see all my books at a glance (save sheet music, which is stored in a blanket box on the other side of the room). But now I have a new dilemma: the constant itch to rearrange.

I organise my books by genre, and then alphabetically from there; although, the latter depends on the genre, and how well the books conform size-wise in that category. However, as I acquire new titles, it can happen that the shelf for a particular genre fills. Then what’s a girl to do but strip out the whole kit and caboodle and start again?

My need to constantly rearrange can become obsessive, so I try to restrict myself to once a year, and January tends to work well for that. Not only is it the start of the year, which I find appealing in and of itself, it also falls just after my birthday and Xmas. Those two events always occasion an influx of new books, so in doing my sorting subsequent to those dates I can see how much space I need to allow to fit them in once read.

I don’t see myself ever arranging in any manner except by genre. I love seeing pictures of other peoples’ rainbow-organised shelves—they do look beautiful and colourful—but I think that set-up would annoy me after a time. How would I know where to go to find a particular text if I couldn’t recall what colour it was? At least with them sorted by genre, I can head straight to the correct shelf/shelves.

I always grumble at the seemingly constant need to reshuffle my library, yet I also take great pleasure in the task. It’s fun to gather the books around me, caressing each as I place it in its new position. And the act of restoring order to chaos is naturally satisfying for someone with my personality quirks.

So, let me leave you with some pictures now that this year’s festival of rearrangement is complete. Goodbye 2018, and hello 2019. Enjoy your current distribution while you can, my beloved bookcases. I’ll see you again in twelve months’ time.

Does my story strike a chord? Can you relate to this dilemma? How often do you reorganise your bookshelves, and how do you like to arrange them?

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